Dr Mark Witton
Student Support Adviser
Two main aspects of my life have, for as long as I can remember, been art and palaeontology. I've been drawing since I could hold a pencil and have stubbornly refused to grow out of the dinosaur/palaeontology craze that afflicts most children. The latter proved so hard to shake that I studied for a degree in Palaeobiology and Evolution between 2002 – 2005 at the University of Portsmouth, UK and stayed there for my PhD studies between 2005 – 2008. I have since held a research position at Portsmouth. In 2010 I was honoured to be part of a joint University of Portmsouth/Royal Society exhibition which installed several models of giant flying reptiles in the centre of London (image of me and Bamofo, one of our giant azhdarchid models, right). In 2013 my book, Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy was published by Princeton University Press to critical acclaim. I now make a living as a technical consultant on palaeontological documentaries, palaeoartist, graphic designer and author.
My research has revolved around pterosaurs, the extinct flying reptiles that once flew above the (non-birdy) dinosaurs between 225 - 65 million years ago. I’m primarily interested in the habits of these animals: how they moved, how they fed, how they were adapted to their environments and so forth, but have also made contributions to debates on their systematics and nomenclature. My research career has assessed direct fossil evidence of pterosaur feeding habits, attempted to model their body masses for use in flight models, used comparative anatomy to assess their feeding habits and flight kinematics.
For more on my research, please see my publication list.