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Department of Paleobiology

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  • Matthew T. Carrano
  • Curator of Dinosauria
  • Phone:   202-633-1314
  • Fax:   202-786-2832
  • E-mail Address:   carranom
  • Mailing Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    PO Box 37012, MRC 121
    Washington, DC 20013-7012
  • Shipping Address:
    Smithsonian Institution
    National Museum of Natural History
    10th & Constitution NW
    Washington, DC 20560-0121
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Education

Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1998
M.S. University of Chicago, 1995
B.S. Brown University, 1991

Research Interests

I. Dinosaur Evolution and the Fossil Record
Since 2000, I have been helping to assemble the fossil vertebrate component of the Paleobiology Database (PBDB). The PBDB will ultimately provide full internet access to all published vertebrate fossil localities for any researcher worldwide. Because the database also includes records of marine invertebrates, taphonomy, and fossil plants, it holds great potential for the exploration of innumerable macroevolutionary patterns. To date, more than 7000 dinosaur-bearing localities have been entered into the PBDB, which can be analyzed and downloaded by any visitor or researcher. This dataset has allowed me to study and quantify many aspects of the dinosaur fossil record in detail, including the group’s diversity and geographic history, as well as the effects of sampling biases.
Collaborators: Roger Benson (Cambridge University), Philip Mannion (Imperial College London), Richard Butler (University of Birmingham)

II. Vertebrate Paleoecology from Microfossil Bonebeds
Vertebrate microfossil bonebeds (VMBs) represent an important but potentially underappreciated mode of fossil preservation. These concentrated deposits of primarily small vertebrate fossils are most often exploited for the remains of Mesozoic mammals and other difficult-to-find taxa. But the richness of these localities, and their mode of formation, suggests a far-reaching application to paleobiology. I am currently working to re-interpret the formational processes responsible for these sites, and to develop a method for sampling and interpreting them that enhances their comparability across time and geography.

With the rich record they provide, VMBs can offer a new window into spatial and temporal variations across the terrestrial vertebrate record. I am especially interested in the diversities and abundances of dinosaurs relative to other vertebrates, variations within formations and across landscapes, and long-term changes in dominance between major taxonomic groups (for example, from rhynchocephalians to lizards).

Collaborators: Ray Rogers and Kristi Curry Rogers (Macalester College), Matthew Oreska (University of Virginia)

III. Dinosaur Evolution
I am particularly interested in large-scale evolutionary patterns within the Dinosauria. This diverse, long-lived vertebrate group (even excluding avian members) dominated terrestrial habitats worldwide from the Late Triassic through to the end of the Cretaceous. Thus they provide an interesting and instructive parallel for the Cenozoic radiation of mammals, permitting exploration of such evolutionary patterns as Cope's Rule (increasing body size), the cursorial-graviportal locomotor gradient, and biogeographic scenarios associated with continental fragmentation. My work focuses on using dinosaur phylogeny to track these evolutionary changes, both throughout the group and within specific clades (e.g., sauropods). Numerous similarities between mammalian and dinosaurian patterns are evident, particularly with regard to size and locomotion, but exceptions highlight potentially important biological differences between these two major clades. I also integrate information from the dinosaur ichnological record into these studies.

Collaborators: Roger Benson (Cambridge University), Philip Mannion (Imperial College London), Paul Barrett (Natural History Museum, London), Richard Butler (University of Birmingham)

Current and Former Research Assistants, Post-doctoral Fellows and Students

Research Assistants:

  • Jennifer Young, 2003-2005
  • Matthew Oreska, 2010-2011
  • Abree Murch, 2014-2015

Post-doctoral:

  • Meghan Balk, “Changes in community composition of megafauna-dominated ecosystems” (2016-2018)
  • Meng Chen, “Ecomorphology of Mesozoic mammals” (2015-2016)
  • Daniel Thomas, “Diet and feather color of fossil birds using Raman spectroscopy” (2012-2013)

Pre-Doctoral::

  • Robert V. Hill, Ph.D. (2004), Stony Brook University, external committee member
  • Keith Metzger, Ph.D. (2005), Stony Brook University, external committee member
  • Margaret I. Hall, Ph.D. (2005), Stony Brook University, external committee member
  • Karen Moreno, Ph.D. (2005), University of Bristol, co-advisor
  • Roger Benson, Ph.D. (2008), University of Cambridge, external examiner
  • Mark A. Loewen, Ph.D. (2009), University of Utah, external committee member
  • Jonah Choiniere, Ph.D. (2010), The George Washington University, external committee member
  • Michael Habib, Ph.D. (2011), The Johns Hopkins University, external examiner
  • Juan Leardi, Ph.D. (2013), Universidad de Buenos Aires, external reader
  • Nicolás Campione, Ph.D. (2013), University of Toronto, external committee member
  • Karen Poole, Ph.D. (2015), The George Washington University, external committee member
  • Dominic White, Ph.D. (2016, expected), The George Washington University, external committee member
  • Joseph Stiegler, Ph.D. (2017, expected), The George Washington University, external committee member

Undergraduate Interns::

  • Jorge Velez-Juarbe, University of Puerto Rico (2004)
  • Kaitlin Maguire, The George Washington University (2005-2006)
  • Matthew Oreska, The College of William & Mary (2006)
  • Bryan Moles, University of Chicago (2007)
  • Jonathan Mitchell, Appalachian State University (2008)
  • Sean Moran, The College of William & Mary (2009)
  • Carlos Peredo, Seton Hill University (2010)
  • Benn Breeden, University of Maryland (2010-2011)
  • Kaisa Wayrynen, Wellesley College (2012)
  • José Fuentes, University of Puerto Rico (2012)
  • Katherine Earl, Oberlin College (2014)
  • Abree Murch, Delaware Valley State College (2013)
  • Advait Jukar, George Mason University (2013-present)
  • Maricel Beltrán-Burgos, University of Puerto Rico (2014)
  • Harris Boekenheide, The George Washington University (2015-2016)
  • Jordan Claytor, Elon University (2016)

Affiliations:

  • 2012-present: Executive Board, Paleobiology Database
  • 2005-2012: Advisory Board, Paleobiology Database
  • 2005-2009: Scientific Board of Directors, The Jurassic Foundation
  • 2003-2010: Evolution of Terrestrial Ecosystems Group, Smithsonian Institution
  • 2000-2008: Vertebrate Paleontology Working Group, Paleobiology Database
  • 1999-2002: Research Associate, Department of Geology, Field Museum, Chicago

Positions Held :

Recent Grants

  • 2016-2020: National Science Foundation, Sedimentary Geology & Paleontology: “Collaborative Research: Triassic-Jurassic Fossils and the Origins of the Crocodylian Skull” (co-PI with J. Clark, X. Xing, S. McFarlin, C. Holliday)
  • 2012: Smithsonian Small Grant: “Meso-Cenozoic vertebrate paleontology of the Caucasus Region, Asia”
  • 2011-2016: National Science Foundation, Sedimentary Geology & Paleontology: “Collaborative RUI Research: Microfossil Bonebeds Are an Untapped Resource for Understanding Vertebrate Taphonomy, Paleoecology, and Diversity” (co-PI with R. Rogers, K. Curry Rogers)
  • 2011: Smithsonian Small Grant: “Dating the Late Jurassic - Early Cretaceous Faunal Transitions in the Terrestrial Communities of North America’s Western Interior: Methodological Refinements and Improvements”
  • 2008: Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund: "Inventory of the Pleistocene Mammal Geographic Collection” (co-PI with J. Thompson)
  • 2007: Smithsonian Small Grant: “Faunal Transitions in the Early Cretaceous Terrestrial Communities of the Western Interior of North America”
  • 2006: Smithsonian Collections Care and Preservation Fund: "Conservation of the Fossil Reptile and Amphibian Collections" (co-PI with J. Thompson)
  • 2004-2005: Smithsonian Walcott Grant: “Evolutionary Patterns in Late Jurassic Dinosaurs of North America: Faunal Change in the Days after the Sundance Sea”
  • 2002-2004: National Geographic Society: "Medial Cretaceous Vertebrate Faunas of Madagascar"
  • 2001-2003: Jurassic Foundation: "From Sauropoden to Sauropods: Translating the Works of Werner Janensch" (co-PI with J. Wilson)
  • 1999-2003: National Science Foundation, Systematic Biology: "Osteology and Phylogeny of Basal Theropod Dinosaurs" (co-PI with S. Sampson)
  • 1999-2003: Jurassic Foundation: "The Role of Subdivided Muscles in the Archosaur Hind Limb"

Editorial Service

Field Work

  • 2012-2016: Judith River Formation, central Montana
  • 2010: Forest Sandstone and Dande Formation, Zimbabwe
  • 2006: Chucál, Livilcar, and Huaylas formations, Region I, Chile
  • 2003-2010: Upper Jurassic to Lower Cretaceous formations, Western Interior, North America [view the 2003 and 2004 field seasons]
  • 1999-2004: Cretaceous deposits, Mahajanga Basin, northwestern Madagascar [view the 2004 field season]
  • 1989, 1995, 1997: Hell Creek and Lance formations, Montana and Wyoming
  • 1994, 1996: Judith River Formation, central Montana

Publications

Benson, Roger B. J., Butler, Richard J., Alroy, John, Mannion, Philip D., Carrano, Matthew T. and Lloyd, Graeme T. 2016. Near-Stasis in the Long-Term Diversification of Mesozoic Tetrapods, PLoS Biology, 14(1):1-27

Rauhut, Oliver W. M. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2016. The theropod dinosaur Elaphrosaurus bambergi Janensch, 1920, from the Late Jurassic of Tendaguru, Tanzania, Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society,

Carrano, Matthew T. and Choiniere, Jonah. 2016. New Information on the Forearm and Manus of Ceratosaurus Nasicornis Marsh, 1884 (Dinosauria, Theropoda), with Implications for Theropod Forelimb Evolution, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 36(2)

Carrano, Matthew T., Oreska, Matthew P. J. and Lockwood, Rowan. 2016. Vertebrate Paleontology of the Cloverly Formation (Lower Cretaceous), Ii: Paleoecology, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 36(2)

Carrano, Matthew T. and D'Emic, Michael D. 2015. Osteoderms of the titanosaur sauropod dinosaur Alamosaurus sanjuanensis Gilmore, 1922, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 35(1)

Mannion, Philip D., Benson, Roger B. J., Carrano, Matthew T., Tennant, Jonathan P., Judd, Jack and Butler, Richard J. 2015. Climate constrains the evolutionary history and biodiversity of crocodylians, Nature Communications, 6

Evans, David C., Barrett, Paul M., Brink, Kirstin S. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2015. Osteology and bone microstructure of new, small theropod dinosaur material from the early Late Cretaceous of Morocco, Gondwana Research, 27(3):1034-1041

Ksepka, Daniel T., Parham, James F., Allman, James F., Benton, Michael J., Carrano, Matthew T., Cranston, Karen A., Donoghue, Philip C. J., Head, Jason J., Hermsen, Elizabeth J., Irmis, Randall B., Joyce, Walter G., Kohli, Manpreet, Lamm, Kristin S., Leehr, Dan, Patané, José S. L., Polly, P. David, Phillips, Matthew J., Smith, N. Adam, Smith, Nathan D., van Tuinen, Marcel, Ware, Jessica L. and Warnock, Rachel C. M. 2015. The Fossil Calibration Database, A New Resource for Divergence Dating, Systematic Biology, 64(5):853-859

Aiello, B. R., Iriarte-Diaz, J., Blob, R. W., Butcher, M. T., Carrano, Matthew T., Espinoza, N. R., Main, R. P. and Ross, C. F. 2015. Bone strain magnitude is correlated with bone strain rate in tetrapods: implications for models of mechanotransduction, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 282(1810)

Campione, Nicolas E., Evans, David C., Brown, Caleb M. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2014. Body mass estimation in non-avian bipeds using a theoretical conversion to quadruped stylopodial proportions, Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 5(9):913-923

Thomas, Daniel B., McGraw, Kevin J., Butler, Michael W., Carrano, Matthew T., Madden, Odile and James, Helen F. 2014. Ancient origins and multiple appearances of carotenoid-pigmented feathers in birds, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281(1788)

Brusatte, Stephen L., Butler, Richard J., Barrett, Paul M., Carrano, Matthew T., Evans, David C., Lloyd, Graeme T., Mannion, Philip D., Norell, Mark A., Peppe, Daniel J., Upchurch, Paul and Williamson, Thomas E. 2014. The extinction of the dinosaurs, Biological Reviews, 90(2):628-642

Benson, Roger B. J., Campione, Nicolás E., Carrano, Matthew T., Mannion, Philip D., Sullivan, Corwin, Upchurch, Paul and Evans, David C. 2014. Rates of Dinosaur Body Mass Evolution Indicate 170 Million Years of Sustained Ecological Innovation on the Avian Stem Lineage, PLoS Biology, 12(5):1-11

Conrad, Jack L., Head, Jason J. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2014. Unusual Soft-Tissue Preservation of a Crocodile Lizard (Squamata, Shinisauria) From the Green River Formation (Eocene) and Shinisaur Relationships, The Anatomical Record, 297(3):545-559

Uhen, Mark D., Barnosky, Anthony D., Bills, Brian, Blois, Jessica, Carrano, Matthew T., Carrasco, Marc A., Erickson, Gregory M., Eronen, Jussi T., Fortelius, Mikael, Graham, Russell W., Grimm, Eric C., O'Leary, Maureen A., Mast, Austin, Piel, William H., Polly, P. David and Saila, Laura K. 2013. From Card Catalogs to Computers: Databases in Vertebrate Paleontology, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 33(1):13-28

Oreska, Matthew P. J., Carrano, Matthew T. and Dzikiewicz, Katherine M. 2013. Vertebrate Paleontology of the Cloverly Formation (Lower Cretaceous), I: Faunal Composition, Biogeographic Relationships, and Sampling, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 33(2):264-292

Benson, Roger B. J., Butler, Richard J., Carrano, Matthew T. and O'Connor, Patrick M. 2012. Air-filled postcranial bones in theropod dinosaurs: physiological implications and the 'reptile'–bird transition, Biological Reviews, 87(1):168-193

Fitzgerald, Erich M. G., Carrano, Matthew T., Holland, Timothy, Wagstaff, Barbara E., Pickering, David, Rich, Thomas H. and Vickers-Rich, Patricia. 2012. First ceratosaurian dinosaur from Australia, Naturwissenschaften, 99(5):397-405

Carrano, Matthew T., Benson, Roger B. J. and Sampson, Scott D. 2012. The phylogeny of Tetanurae (Dinosauria: Theropoda), Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 10(2):211-300

Burch, Sara H. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2012. An Articulated Pectoral Girdle and Forelimb of the Abelisaurid Theropod Majungasaurus Crenatissimus from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 32(1):1-16

Thomas, Daniel B., James, Helen F., Carrano, Matthew T. and Madden, Odile. 2012. Searching for Evidence of Fossil Feather Color with Spectroscopy, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 32:183-184

Mannion, Philip D., Upchurch, Paul, Carrano, Matthew T. and Barrett, Paul M. 2011. Testing the effect of the rock record on diversity: a multidisciplinary approach to elucidating the generic richness of sauropodomorph dinosaurs through time, Biological Reviews, 86(1):157-181

Hall, Margaret I., Kirk, E. C., Kamilar, Jason M. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2011. Comment on "Nocturnality in Dinosaurs Inferred from Scleral Ring and Orbit Morphology", Science, 334(6063):1641-1641

Ksepka, Daniel T., Benton, Michael J., Carrano, Matthew T., Gandolfo, Maria A., Head, Jason J., Hermsen, Elizabeth J., Joyce, Walter G., Lamm, Kristin S., Patané, José S. L., Phillips, Matthew J., Polly, P. David, Van Tuinen, Marcel, Ware, Jessica L., Warnock, Rachel C. M. and Parham, James F. 2011. Synthesizing and databasing fossil calibrations: divergence dating and beyond, Biology Letters, 7(6):801-803

Butler, Richard J., Benson, Roger B. J., Carrano, Matthew T., Mannion, Philip D. and Upchurch, Paul. 2011. Sea level, dinosaur diversity and sampling biases: investigating the ‘common cause’ hypothesis in the terrestrial realm, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 278(1709):1165-1170

Upchurch, P., Mannion, P. D., Benson, R. B. J., Butler, R. J. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2011. Geological and anthropogenic controls on the sampling of the terrestrial fossil record: a case study from the Dinosauria, Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 358(1):209-240

Wilson, Jeffrey A., Barrett, Paul M. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2011. An associated partial skeleton of Jainosaurus cf. septentrionalis (Dinosauria: Sauropoda) from the Late Cretaceous of Chhota Simla, Central India, Palaeontology, 54(5):981-998

Carrano, Matthew T., Loewen, Mark A. and Sertich, Joseph J. W. 2011. New materials of Masiakasaurus knopfleri Sampson, Carrano, and Forster, 2001, and implications for the morphology of the Noasauridae (Theropoda:Ceratosauria), Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology, (95):1-53

Mannion, Philip D., Benson, Roger B. J., Upchurch, Paul, Butler, Richard J., Carrano, Matthew T. and Barrett, Paul M. 2011. A temperate palaeodiversity peak in Mesozoic dinosaurs and evidence for Late Cretaceous geographical partitioning, Global Ecology and Biogeography, 21(9):898-908

Carrano, Matthew T., Wilson, Jeffrey A. and Barrett, Paul M. 2010. "The history of dinosaur collecting in central India, 1828-1947". Pp. 161-173 in Dinosaurs and other Extinct Saurians: a Historical Perspective (Moody, R. T. J., Buffetaut, E., Naish, D. and Martill, D. M.). Geological Society

Benson, Roger B. J., Carrano, Matthew T. and Brusatte, Stephen L. 2010. A new clade of archaic large-bodied predatory dinosaurs (Theropoda: Allosauroidea) that survived to the latest Mesozoic, Naturwissenschaften, 97(1):71-78

Hunt, Gene and Carrano, Matthew T. 2010. "Models and methods for analyzing phenotypic evolution in lineages and clades". Pp. 245-269 in Quantitative Methods in Paleobiology (Alroy, John and Hunt, Gene). The Paleontological Society

Carrano, Matthew T., Krause, D. W., O'Connor, P. M. and Sampson, S. D. 2009. Case 3487: Megalosaurus crenatissimus Depéret, 1896 (currently Majungasaurus crenatissimus; Dinosauria, Theropoda): proposed replacement of the holotype by a neotype, Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature, 66(3):261-264

Carrano, Matthew T. and Sampson, S. D. 2008. The phylogeny of Ceratosauria (Dinosauria : Theropoda), Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 6(2):183-236

Moreno, K., Carrano, Matthew T. and Snyder, R. 2007. Morphological changes in pedal phalanges through ornithopod dinosaur evolution: a biomechanical approach, Journal of Morphology, 268(1):50-63

Carrano, Matthew T. 2007. "Walking and running dinosaurs". Pp. 308 in Dinosaurs (Holtz, Jr, Thomas Richard). Random House Children's Books

Carrano, Matthew T. 2007. The appendicular skeleton of Majungasaurus crenatissimus (Theropoda: Abelisauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Memoir 8.Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27(2):163-179

Krause, D. W., Sampson, S. D., Carrano, Matthew T. and O'Conner, Patrick M. 2007. Overview of the history of discovery, taxonomy, phylogeny, and biogeography of Majungasaurus crenatissimus (Theropoda: Abelisauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Memoir 8.Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 27(2):1-20

Crompton, A. W., Jenkins, F. A., Hopson, S., Gaudin, T. J. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2006. "James Allen Hopson: a biography". Pp. 507-515 in Amniote Paleobiology: Perspectives on the Evolution of Mammals, Birds, and Reptiles (Carrano, Matthew T., Blob, R. W., Gaudin, T. and Wible, J.). University of Chicago Press

Carrano, Matthew T., Gaudin, T. J., Blob, R. W. and Wible, J. R.2006. Amniote Paleobiology: Perspectives on the Evolution of Mammals, Birds, and Reptiles. University of Chicago Press

Gaudin, T. J., Carrano, Matthew T., Blob, R. W. and Wible, J. R. 2006. "Introduction". Pp. 1-17 in Amniote Paleobiology: Perspectives on the Evolution of Mammals, Birds, and Reptiles (Carrano, Matthew T., Blob, R. W., Gaudin, T. and Wible, J.). University of Chicago Press

Carrano, Matthew T. 2006. "Body-size evolution in the Dinosauria". Pp. 225-268 in Amniote Paleobiology: Perspectives on the Evolution of Mammals, Birds, and Reptiles (Carrano, Matthew T., Gaudin, T. J., Blob, R. W. and Wible, J. R.). University of Chicago Press

Carrano, Matthew T. and Velez-Juarbe, Jorge. 2006. Paleoecology of the Quarry 9 vertebrate assemblage from Como Bluff Wyoming (Morrison Formation, Late Jurassic), Palaeogeography, palaeoclimatology, palaeoecology, 237(2-4):147-159

Gaudin, T. J. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2006. "James Allen Hopson: a bibliography (1964-2003)". Pp. 507-515 in Amniote Paleobiology: Perspectives on the Evolution of Mammals, Birds, and Reptiles (Carrano, Matthew T., Blob, R. W., Gaudin, T. and Wible, J.). University of Chicago Press

Krause, D. W., O'Connor, P. M., Rasoamiaramanana, A. H., Buckley, G. A., Burney, D., Carrano, Matthew T., Chatrath, P. S., Flynn, J. J., Forster, C. A., Godfrey, L. R., Jungers, W. L., Rogers, R. R., Samonds, K. E., Simons, E. L. and Wyss, A. R. 2006. Preserving Madagascar's natural heritage: the importance of keeping the island's vertebrate fossils in the public domain, Madagascar Conservation and Development, 1(1):43-47

Carrano, Matthew T. 2005. "The evolution of sauropod locomotion: morphological diversity of a secondarily quadrupedal radiation". Pp. 229-251 in The Sauropods: Evolution and Paleobiology (Curry Rogers, K. A. and Wilson, J. A.). University of California Press

Carrano, Matthew T., Hutchinson, J. R. and Sampson, S. D. 2005. New information on Segisaurus halli, a small theropod dinosaur from the Early Jurassic of Arizona, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25(4):835-849

O'Keefe, F. R. and Carrano, Matthew T. 2005. Correlated trends in the evolution of the plesiosaur locomotor system, Paleobiology, 31(4):656-675

Carrano, Matthew T. and O'Conner, Patrick M. 2005. Bird's Eye view, Natural History, 114(4):42-47

Carrano, Matthew T. 2004. Why are there no living animals as large as the dinosaurs?, Discover, 25(1):12

Carrano, Matthew T. and Sampson, S. D. 2004. A review of coelophysoids (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Lower Jurassic of Europe, with comments on the late history of the Coelophysoidea, Neues Jahrbuch fAr Geologie und PalAontologie Monatshefte, 2004(9):537-558

Carrano, Matthew T., Sampson, S. D. and Forster, C. A. 2002. The osteology of Masiakasaurus knopfleri, a small abelisauroid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 22(3):510-534