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Research interests

My research focuses on the taphonomy and palaeoecology of the early Cambrian Sirius Passet Lagerstätte, North Greenland. I aim to answer questions such as 'why do we get exceptionally preserved fossils' and 'how were the first modern ecosystems structured in the aftermath of the Cambrian explosion'.

Sirius Passet is an important Lagerstätte, showing a high density of exceptionally preserved soft-bodied fossils preserved as reflective films. Many of the fossils still retain labile soft tissues such as nerves, guts, and muscles which yields important morphological information about early members of the modern animal groups. Besides the classic Burgess Shale-type organic preservation of the flat reflective films, the guts and muscles are three-dimensionally preserved with high relief. Most of the fossils are found in amalgamated millimetre-thick beds of a fissile metamorphosed mudrock. The continuously high density of fossils, variable fossil communities, complex taphonomy, and comparatively high degree of metamorphism make the Sirius Passet Lagerstätten an excellent natural laboratory to understand early Cambrian community structures through time and the effect of metamorphism on exceptional preservation.

My interest is the interplay between taphonomy, environment, and ecology in relation to the observed fossil communities. We seek to understand which processes are crucial for exceptional preservation by looking at the detailed mineralogy of the fossils (and the surrounding mudrock) to identify effects of metamorphism. This will help us understand the present taphonomic biases and whether the observed fossil communities reflect the actual ecological communities of Sirius Passet. By contextualising these communities with detailed palaeoenvironmental information, and how it varies through the section, we can then test to what degree these highly variable observed communities reflect taphonomic filtering, transport, and/or fluctuating ecological communities.

The research is partnered by CASE-partner British Geological Survey and Korea Polar Research Institute.


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