Brian Davis, PhD

Brian Davis, Ph.D.

Brian Davis, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomical Sciences & Neurobiology

Phone: (502) 852-8057


Research Focus

I am interested in the evolution, systematics, and paleoecology of Mesozoic mammals, as well as the role early mammals played in the evolution of terrestrial ecosystems through the Jurassic and Early Cretaceous. I am also interested in the use of micro-CT data to explore characters such as tooth replacement and the evolution of sensory systems in early mammals. Advanced imaging techniques are of increasing value to studies of evolutionary development and comparative morphology, allowing collecting of qualitative (presence/absence of features) and quantitative (volume, angles, etc.) data for features that are otherwise difficult to observe. Fossils anchor biological events to a specific point in the past, affording an evolutionary perspective to the exploration of form and function. Here, paleontology provides a crucial avenue for investigating the evolution of key characters, such as the mammalian brain, ear, and feeding apparatus.

Current Projects

My current research centers on the evolution of jaw and dental morphology and the interrelationships of Jurassic and Early Cretaceous lineages, leading to the rise of modern mammals.  I have active field projects in the Jurassic and Cretaceous of the western United States; collecting efforts are focused on time intervals with the poorest record but greatest potential impact on our understanding of early mammal evolution and dispersal (e.g., the Middle Jurassic and earliest Cretaceous).  Other field projects are aimed at improving our sampling of the middle portion of the Cretaceous record of North America.

Key Publications

Bi, S., Zheng, X., Meng, J., Wang, X., Robinson, N., and Davis, B. 2016. A new symmetrodont mammal (Trechnotheria: Zhangheotheriidae) from the Early Cretaceous of China and trechnotherian character evolution. Scientific Reports 6: 26668. doi:10.1038/srep26668 (PDF)

Cifelli, R. L. and Davis, B. M. 2015. Tribosphenic mammals from the Lower Cretaceous Cloverly Formation of Montana and Wyoming. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 35: e920848. DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2014.920848 (PDF)

Cifelli, R. L., Davis, B. M., and Sames, B. 2014. Earliest Cretaceous mammals from the western United States. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 59: 31–52.

Davis, B. M. and Cifelli, R. L. 2011. Reappraisal of the tribosphenidan mammals from the Trinity Group (Aptian-Albian) of Texas and Oklahoma. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 56: 441-462.

Davis, B. M. 2011. A novel interpretation of the tribosphenidan mammal Slaughteria eruptens from the Early Cretaceous Trinity Group, and implications for dental formula in early mammals. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 31: 676-683.

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