Dr Benjamin Kear is Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Researcher in Palaeontology at The Museum of Evolution, Uppsala University. He is a leading specialist on Mesozoic polar marine ecosystems, but maintains diverse research programmes on topics ranging from dinosaurs to marsupial evolution and fossil geoheritage. Dr Kear has coordinated field explorations around the world for over 20 years with current initiatives in the Scandinavian Arctic, Australasia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Keywords: palaeobiology evolutionsmuséet museums evolution phylogenetics palaeoecology paleobiology
My professional background includes an Australian Postgraduate Award PhD (1999-2003) and appointments as Researcher in Palaeontology at the South Australian Museum (2000-2003), Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Adelaide (2004-2007) and La Trobe University (2007-2010), and Assistant Professor/Researcher in Palaeobiology at the Department of Geology, Uppsala University (2010-2015). I commenced as the Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at The Museum of Evolution in 2016, and was jointly appointed as Researcher in Palaeontology in 2021.
My research focuses on Mesozoic polar biotas (especially marine and terrestrial vertebrates) from the Scandinavian Arctic, Australasia, and elsewhere. I also maintain an active research programme investigating climate change impacts on Cenozoic Australasian marsupial evolution, incorporating analyses of fossils and DNA.
My primary research focus is Mesozoic Polar Palaeontology, which aims to investigate high latitude biotas and bioevents from 252-66 million years ago. I am actively engaged in collections-based studies at The Museum of Evolution, and coordinate numerous externally funded international research programmes.
Google Scholar Citations: https://scholar.google.se/citations?user=TKCFpm4AAAAJ&hl=en&oi=sra
Research Gate: https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Benjamin_Kear
Current projects focusing on specimens from the Museum of Evolution Palaeontological Collections include Early Triassic tetrapods from the Norwegian Svalbard Archipelago, ancient biomolecule and soft tissue preservation, historical Chinese dinosaur specimens from the Sino-Swedish expeditions, Cretaceous vertebrates from Skåne, and Holocene megafauna from Madagascar.
Externally funded international research programmes
Scandinavia's Arctic Age of Dinosaurs
This Nordic museum partnership links The Museum of Evolution with The University of Oslo Natural History Museum in a major research and field exploration initiative focused on Svalbard and East Greenland. Collectively funded by the Swedish Research Council, Norwegian Research Council, Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, and Norwegian Petroleum Directorate, our objective is to reconstruct the earliest Mesozoic vertebrate ecosystems at high northern and southern palaeolatitudes and determine the impacts of mass extinction and global warming from 252-247 million years ago.
Integrated projects focus on Mesozoic marine reptile evolution, Triassic temnospondyl amphibians, Mesozoic Boreal biostratigraphy, and Arctic fossil geoheritage.
Mesozoic polar Australasia
Australia was a polar landmass throughout the Age of Dinosaurs. The Museum of Evolution is leading investigations into Triassic (250-208 million years ago) and Early Cretaceous (120-90 million years ago) vertebrate faunas from the Australasian region, and is also involved with interlinked projects studying Austral polar dinosaurs, and Mesozoic marine reptiles from Central and Northern Europe.
This work is supported by the Swedish Research Council, Australian Research Council and the Matariki Network of Universities, with recent discoveries including an Early Triassic polar predator ecosystems from Australia, Late Triassic marine reptiles from East Timor, and new Cretaceous marine reptiles, turtles and dinosaurs from Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.
First steps from & to the water
The Museum of Evolution is leading a major field exploration programme in East Greenland. This initiative involves collaborators from the Subdepartment of Organismal Biology (Uppsala University), and is funded by the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat. The East Greenland fossil record preserves crucial timeframes in aquatic vertebrate evolution spanning the Devonian-Carboniferous (358 million years ago) and Permian-Triassic boundaries (252 million years ago).
Other collaborative projects are examining biotic recovery after the end-Permian mass extinction and the radiation of Boreal tetrapod faunas, especially dinosaurs and aquatic reptiles.
Other funded research projects cover a diverse range of topics from ancient ecosystems and palaeopathology to the molecular systematics of modern Australasian marsupials.
Ancient marine ecosystems from the Middle East and North Africa
Field exploration and geoheritage development programme focusing on marine vertebrate evolution during the Triassic, Cretaceous and Palaeogene. Funded through Uppsala University with current initiatives focused on Lebanon and Tunisia.
Using ancient marine reptile fossils to assess population health in the deep past. Funded by the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft) in collaboration with the Museum Am Löwentor | Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart.
Climate change impacts on Australasian marsupial evolution
Combining fossils with DNA from living and recently extinct species to determine the pattern and timing of Australasian marsupial radiations. Funded by the Swedish Research Council with work principally in collaboration with La Trobe University (Australia).
A major goal of my research is to contribute to public education initiatives and the promotion of science in the media.
Selected recent media
Recent press releases
Recent public education
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