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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Department of Paleobiology

  • Adam Pritchard
  • Peter Buck Fellow
  • Phone:   202-633-1355
  • Fax:   202-786-2832
  • E-mail Address:
  • 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


Ph.D. Anatomical Sciences, Stony Brook University 2015
B.A. Biology, McDaniel College 2009

Research Interests

As a vertebrate biologist, I connect information from modern organisms and the fossil record to inform questions about the evolution of anatomy and biodiversity in deep time. I use advanced imaging and modeling techniques, phylogenetic methods, paleontological fieldwork, and museum collections studies of fossil and modern vertebrates to develop an understanding of major events in the history of life.

My research project at the Smithsonian Institution focuses on ancient relatives of modern reptiles as a system to address questions of diversification. The early ancestors of turtles, lizards, crocodylians, and dinosaurs all underwent their initial evolution before, during, and after the end-Permian mass extinction: the largest known biotic crisis, in which 90% of species disappear from the fossil record ~252 million years ago. The early history of these extant reptile groups offers not only a window into the initial evolution of some of the most successful vertebrate groups in Earth’s history, but also the response of a vertebrate group to abiotic crises.

I have focused on the early evolutionary radiations of reptiles from a number of different perspectives, including: i) expanding taxonomic and morphological diversity through field and museum-based research, ii) reconstructing morphology in fossil and modern specimens using advanced CT scanning and three-dimensional imaging and modeling; and iii) constructing and using morphological data matrices with parsimony and Bayesian algorithms to reconstruct phylogeny. I engage in fieldwork in the Triassic rocks of the western United States, focused on a site in north-central New Mexico at Ghost Ranch. I also produce a natural history audio webseries for general audiences entitled Past Time.

Personal CV

Here is a link to download a PDF of my current CV.