Ph.D., Post-doctoral ResearcherIan.Corfe -at- helsinki.fi Blog Publications
My research interests are varied but stem from an M.Sc. project examining isolated teeth of the non-mammalian synapsid Oligokyphus from a Mesozoic fissure fill fauna on St. Brides Island, Wales, UK. I became interested in a multitude of disciplines including; morphometric analyses of teeth to determine species level differences; phylogenetic studies of morphological data to identify relationships between species; tooth complexity measurements to determine diet in extinct taxa; the repeated independent evolution of similar tooth morphologies for high fibre herbivory since the origin of Amniota; the use of empirical knowledge and theoretical models of tooth development to inform hypotheses of relationship based on morphological phylogenetics in diverse groups etc.
My PhD thesis focused on phylogenetic methodology, including the development of methods to identify and quantify the degree and cause(s) of conflict between alternative phylogenetic hypotheses generated from morphological data for the same taxonomic group. This reintroduced me to the dinosaurs I'd read about as a young lad, allowing me to legitimately work with some of the biggest and smallest (giant sauropods like Diplodocus, and mini theropods, closely related to the origin of birds, like Microraptor – even the so-called missing link and earliest known bird Archaeopteryx). For my postdoctoral work however I'm back to looking mainly at teeth from taxa all over the tree of life. My favourite critters probably remain the tiny mouse like ones running around in the footsteps of the dinosaurs – the earliest mammals and their closest relatives such as the tritylodontid Oligokyphus, where it all started.