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Christopher A. McRoberts

Distinguished SUNY Professor
Research Associate (American Museum of Natural History)
Research Associate (Binghamton University)
Secretary of the Subcommission on Triassic Stratigraphy

PhD (1994) Syracuse University

Bowers Hall, Rm. 1010, Voice: (607) 753-2925


Curriculum Vitae


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Research Interests:

My research interests mainly reside in the following three areas:

One of my main areas of research focuses on the patterns and causes of the end-Triassic mass extinction, one of the five largest throughout the history of life. Funded by National Science Foundation grants which supports field work and research training for SUNY Cortland undergraduate students on the well preserved faunas in Austria and Italy. This interdisciplinary research combines systematic paleontology and paleoecology of bivalved molluscs, with geochemical and paleoecological analyses.

Another of my on-going projects, funded in part by the Petroleum Research Fund of the American Chemcial Society and by previous National Science Foundation grants, is to examine large-scale trends in bivalve biodiversity through the marine Triassic. This research has taken me to collect fossil bivalve molluscs from the marine Triassic of many western states, Canada and Mexico and across Europe. Understanding which extrinsic or intrinsic factors may have influenced the changes in bivalve diversity through the North American Triassic provides critical information on the adaptive radiation following the largest of all mass extinctions at the end of the Permian. This research actively involves undergraduate students in all aspects of the field and laboratory work.

A small part of a very diverse and exquisitely preserved silicified fauna from the Upper Triassic (Norian) of southeast Alaska. Bivalves (on left side) represent many new taxa and contribute significantly to total taxonomic richness known from the Norian stage. From McRoberts (2017). [click on image for a larger view]

A third aspect of my professional interest is in the establishment and refinement of the geological timescale for the Triassic Period. In this regard, I am currently the Secretary of the Subcommission on Triassic Stratigraphy (STS). Under the auspicies of the International Commission on Stratigraphy and the International Union of Geological Sciences, the STS is the international governing body that is working to define the various subdivisions (ages) of the Triassic Period.  The STS also publishes a journal, Albertiana, for which I am currently the Editor-in-Chief. Related to the establishement of a refined time-scale for the Triassicis my research involving the biochronology of Triassic thin-shelled bivalves belonging to the genera Daonella, Halobia, and Monotis.

Temporal ranges of biochronologically important thin-shelled pteriomorphian and pectinacean bivalve genera during the middle and upper Triassic. [click on image for a larger view]


and now for something completely different ....

Modified GSA press release: Although color (and colored patterning) is ubiquitous in the epidermis and exoskeletons of modern animals, preservation of color in the fossil record is exceptionally rare, with very few examples preserved within fossil skeletons. Collaborative research with faculty (McRoberts and Hegna), students (Burke and Stice) and amateurs (Mize and Martin) from SUNY Cortland and Western Illinois University document in the journal Geology some exceptionally preserved fossil trilobites belonging to Eldredgeops rana that exhibit original spotted markings embedded in their exoskeleton. These exquisitely preserved trilobites collected from the Middle Devonian of western and central New York exhibit distinctive biologic patterning and are preserved as low-Mg calcite spheres that likely served as windows through a pigmented exoskeleton to the underlying epidermis of the trilobites. Spot patterning, composition, and structure rule out previous hypotheses of muscle attachment sites or diagenetic artifacts. The leopard-like patterns would have served a light disrupting camouflage. See below for paper.

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Selected Publications:

 Click here for the complete list of publications

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Other Points of Interests:

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And a quote worth thinking about . . .

"if new paleontologists fail to develop and actively exploit an area of empirical expertise in systematics, we will eventually begin to fold in upon ourselves, use and reuse the same inadequate data and finally, like the legendary foo-bird, fly around in ever tightening circles, until we fly up our own collective asshole and disappear. "-Stephen J. Gould

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Questions or comments: mcroberts@cortland.edu

Page Created: September, 1997 Last modified: October 4, 2015

"The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the page author. The contents of this page have not been reviewed or approved by SUNY Cortland."