My research interests relate to archosaur reptiles and their morphological evolution. I graduated in Biology at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) in Spain. My doctoral thesis was supervised by A. D. Buscalioni ((Unidad de Paleontología, UAM) and it focused on the evolution of the avian skull using both Theoretical Morphology and Geometric Morphometric tools, and dealt with macroevolutionary topics such as variation (disparity), and with integration and modularity. I joined Dr. Chiappe’s team at the Dinosaur Institute as a Fulbright (MCINN) postdoctoral fellow to study aspects of the dinosaur-bird transition focusing our data collection on Chinese fossils. I am part of the research team at Las Hoyas, and I’m also involved in a research project with the Theoretical Biology Lab (Instituto Cavanilles, Valencia) in which we try to model cranial evolution in tetrapods using diverse quantitative proxies.
My general research interests relate to the systematics and evolution of both extinct and living birds. After graduating with a PhD from The Universidad Nacional de Tucuman (in Argentina where I grew up), I accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the American Museum of Natural History in New York where I examined such diverse groups of birds as penguins, song birds, tinamous and their relatives, the ratites (which are flightless birds such as ostriches, kiwis, and cassowaries). My research has taken me to many countries across Europe, North America and South America where I have conducted filed studies and visited numerous museums. My current interests also concern the evolutionary relationships of the phorusracids or “terror birds.”
My research focuses primarily on Argentine dinosaurs, especially those from Patagonia, a region that ranks among the best dinosaur graveyards. During the last 20 years, my field and laboratory investigations have resulted in the description of a large dinosaur diversity of both carnivorous and herbivorous dinosaur species and an assessment of their genealogical relationships. Some of these dinosaurs include the colossal sauropod Argentinosaurus huinculensis and the megapredator Giganotosaurus carolinii; other ones are the carnivorous Aucasaurus garridoi, Ilokelesia aguadagrandensis, Quilmesaurus currie, and Mapusaurus roseae. The overall goal of my research is to understand how the dinosaur faunas of Patagonia evolved through time.
Growing up in Southern California, I served as a volunteer at Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. In 1987, I completed my dissertation at the University of California (Berkeley) and moved to New York to direct the Fossil Hall Renovation at the American Museum of Natural History. For over 25 years, I have had the opportunity to conduct geological and paleontological field research from the remote Patagonian badlands of Argentina to the harsh Gobi Desert badlands in Mongolia to the dinosaur-bearing formations of the Missouri Breaks in East-central Montana. As a geologist, my responsibilities are somewhat different than most members of paleontological field crews. The sequence of rock layers that contains the fossils also contains the key clues that help answer numerous important questions: How long ago did the fossil animals live? How did they die? What was their habitat like? By studying the layers of rock in the field and collecting samples of the rocks to analyze back in the lab, we can learn a lot more about what the world of the dinosaurs was really like. My interests also include public education. I have written several books for children and I am presently the President of InfoQuest, a private, non-profit foundation devoted to public education, field work, and research involving paleontology, geology and technological literacy.
As a researcher, my interests lie primarily in Mesozoic birds and the still poorly understood transition from non-avian dinosaur to true bird. I use morphology and a methodology known as cladistics in order to better understand early avian diversity, the biology and lifestyle of early birds and how different species and groups are related to each other. I conducted my doctoral research on Enantiornithes, a group of extinct birds that dominated the Cretaceous avifauna. In addition to describing several new species and updating the known morphology of the group, I created an extensive phylogenetic analysis in order to attempt to understand the inter-relationships of the numerous known species, and reviewed several important aspects of the group, such as integument and ontogeny. I am a graduate of the department of Geological Sciences at the University of Southern California and the Graduate-Student-in-Residence program at the Museum.