James Archie NZ

Research: Testing Allen’s rule in prehistoric vertebrates 

 I am interested in tracking evolutionary change through time by observing the fossil record and looking for external factors that may have driven adaptation. For this research, I will be pairing estimates of past climate with measurements of fossils, to find out if we can observe changes in body shape in response to changing climates in the deep past. In particular, I am interested in finding out whether dinosaur fossils reveal the general observation that appendages such as limbs and tails tend to be longer in warmer climates (an observation known as “Allen’s rule”). Understanding how climate change has influenced evolution in the past will help us better predict the impacts of human-caused climate change on modern animals. 


Describe yourself in three words or less 

Student, parent, caffeinated. 

What is your earliest memory? 

My grandfather building tin-can boats for my brother and I. He built satellites by day so it must have been a simple trick for him, but it was mind-blowing to us. 

What (or who) inspired your interest in biology? 

Holidays to wild places. And of course, Sir David. Friday night documentaries were essential viewing. 

What was your favourite book as a child? 

Big dinosaur books, like an illustrated encyclopedia of dinosaurs and prehistoric animals, or the Walking with Dinosaurs book that followed the series. I still have them of course. 

Name your three favourite films 

Jurassic Park, Gladiator, Style Wars 

Which do you prefer – Cheese or chocolate? 

Cheese, without question. There are no chocolate platters. 

Who would play you in a film about your life? 

Paul Giamatti 

Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party? 

Charles Darwin, Thomas Henry Huxley and Richard Owen. And I would bring popcorn. 

What is your fancy dress costume of choice? 

Giant squid 

What would your super power be? 

Time travel. Would sure make my research easier. 

What TV programme best describes your personality? 

Right now, Bluey. 

If you could bring something extinct back to life, what would it be? 

The thylacine. I bet you thought I was going to say a dinosaur.