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Alavya Dhungana


PhD in the Department of Earth Sciences



The Ecdysozoa (which include arthropods and nematode worms) are the most diverse group of animals. The relationships of the Ecdysozoan phyla remain contentious. Cambrian fossils, by virtue of their age and unfamiliar morphological charecteristics may hold the key to establishing the earliest trajectory of the Ecdysozoan clade. For my Leverhulme-funded PhD I'm generating a new, annotated morphological dataset of Cambrian Ecdysozoa in addition to describing and re-evaluating exceptionally preserved fossils.

For my Research Masters at Durham (Stephen Mills scholarship), I created a morphospace of tentacular suspension feeding organisms both extant and fossil (Cambrian), evaluating the inflence of feeding, motility and phylogeny on the morphology of these organisms. I was introduced to research during my undergraduate at Cambridge where I worked on Ediacaran spatial ecology and taphonomy, which has led to further collaborations both in Ediacaran palaeobiology and applying spatial analyses in the Phanerozoic fossil record. 

Research interests

  • Palaeobiology, Ecology & Evolution