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Dr Tom Stubbs

Photograph of Dr Tom Stubbs

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Professional biography

Dr Tom Stubbs is an evolutionary biologist interested in biodiversity and morphology. Tom first graduated from the University of Sheffield (BSc Environmental Science), before moving to the University of Bristol for postgraduate studies in evolution and palaeobiology (MSc, PhD). Since 2015, Tom held two postdoctoral research positions in Bristol and was promoted to a ​senior postdoctoral researcher in 2020. Tom then joined The Open University as a Lecturer in Biology in 2023.

Research interests

Word cloud for research by Dr Tom Stubbs

Tom’s research uses the fossil record and living animals to explore the uneven distribution of biodiversity across the Tree of Life and through geological time. Tom has worked on crocodiles, marine reptiles, dinosaurs, birds, lizards and snakes, mammals, and fish, to understand how diverse groups rise and fall, and how new evolutionary innovations emerge.

The key theme underlying all Tom’s research is the study of morphological evolution. Tom researches the evolution of morphological variety (disparity) over large geological timescales. This includes dynamics during evolutionary radiations, the evolution of ecological innovations, and extinction events. Currently, Tom is exploring large-scale patterns of morphological change inclusively across all tetrapod animals (amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals), covering both living (~580 families) and extinct (>1000 families) forms in a universal framework.

Teaching interests

Current module teaching:

S295 The Biology of Survival

S317 Biological Science: From Genes to Species

SXB390 Science project module: biology


Morphological innovation after mass extinction events in Permian and Early Triassic conodonts based on Polygnathacea (2024-05)
Xue, Chunling; Yuan, Dong-xun; Chen, Yanlong; Stubbs, Thomas; Zhao, Yueli and Zhifei, Zhang
Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 642, Article 112149

Locomotion and the early Mesozoic success of Archosauromorpha (2024-02)
Shipley, Amy E.; Elsler, Armin; Singh, Suresh A.; Stubbs, Thomas L. and Benton, Michael J.
Royal Society Open Science, 11(2)

Predatory synapsid ecomorphology signals growing dynamism of late Palaeozoic terrestrial ecosystems (2024)
Singh, Suresh A.; Elsler, Armin; Stubbs, Thomas L.; Rayfield, Emily J. and Benton, Michael J.
Communications Biology, 7, Article 201

High phenotypic plasticity at the dawn of the eosauropterygian radiation (2023-09-01)
Laboury, Antoine; Scheyer, Torsten M.; Klein, Nicole; Stubbs, Thomas L. and Fischer, Valentin
PeerJ, 11, Article e15776

Rapid neck elongation in Sauropterygia (Reptilia: Diapsida) revealed by a new basal pachypleurosaur from the Lower Triassic of China (2023-08-31)
Liu, Qi-Ling; Cheng, Long; Stubbs, Thomas L.; Moon, Benjamin C.; Benton, Michael J.; Yan, Chun-Bo and Tian, Li
BMC Ecology and Evolution, 23, Article 44