Tom Hearing

University of Leicester

Project

Constraining the marine environment of the Cambrian metazoan adaptive radiation

Supervisors

Dr Thomas Harvey, University of Leicester Prof Mark Williams, University of Leicester Dr Sarah Gabbott, University of Leicester Dr Phil Wilby, British Geological Survey Prof Melanie Leng, NERC Isotope Geoscience Laboratory

PhD Summary

Rocks of the Cambrian System (541 – 485 million years ago) contain the earliest known fossils of most modern animal phyla. This is known as the Cambrian metazoan adaptive radiation, or ‘Cambrian explosion’, and is at least partly the result of a real biological event. Whist there are many ideas about what triggered this radiation of animal life, the environment it happened in is remarkably unconstrained. I aim to put the first quantitative constraints on Cambrian sea temperatures to help us understand this environment.

What inspires you?

I have always loved being outdoors, exploring and looking around. I began by fossil hunting on holidays to my grandparents in Dorset and never lost the curiosity that I had about where these long-dead creatures came from and how they lived.

Previous Activity

Before my PhD I was an Earth Science undergraduate at the University of Oxford where I completed by master’s thesis on the depositional environment and preservation of a newly discovered Middle Ordovician site in, Pembrokeshire, South Wales.

Why did you choose Docotoral Research?

I’ve always been curious about the evolution of life, more specifically I’m fascinated by how ecosystems have developed through time. For me it made a lot of sense to continue satisfying my curiosity as a doctoral research student.

Why did you choose a CENTA Studentship?

I’ve always been curious about the evolution of life, more specifically I’m fascinated by how ecosystems have developed through time. For me it made a lot of sense to continue satisfying my curiosity as a doctoral research student.

What are your future plans

I have been fortunate enough to use a wide variety of geochemical techniques and gain a wide breadth of micropalaeontological experience. This is a strong stepping stone on the path to an academic career, but I am also making plans to go into secondary school teaching – something I have been able to develop by running a series of outreach activities from the University of Leicester.