Dr James Neenan, Museum Research Fellow
Phone: +44 (0)1865 272995
My research focuses on the inner ear of plesiosaurs, an extinct group of successful marine reptile predators that lived during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods. The inner ear is the vertebrate organ for balance and orientation, and is therefore subject to a great deal of morphological variation depending on the environment in which an animal lives and certain aspects of its lifestyle. I use cutting edge micro-CT scanning, 3D reconstruction and statistical analyses to study how the inner ear changed shape in these marine reptiles over the course of their evolution. This work will help us to understand how the inner ear changes in animals with terrestrial ancestors that evolve to live in aquatic environments, and also how the shape and proportions of this organ relate to aspects of anatomy such as neck length.
- BSc (Hons) Palaeobiology (University College London, 2005)
- MSc Palaeobiology (University of Bristol, 2009)
- Dr. sc. nat., “Evolutionary origins, palaeoecology and systematics of placodont marine reptiles from the Triassic of Europe and China” (University of Zurich, 2014)
- Postdoctoral researcher at the University of New England, Australia and the University of Zurich (2014–2015)
Neenan, J. M., C. Li, O. Rieppel and T. M. Scheyer. 2015. The cranial anatomy of Chinese placodonts and the phylogeny of Placodontia (Diapsida: Sauropterygia). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. doi: 10.1111/zoj.12277.
Klein, N., J. M. Neenan, T. M. Scheyer and E.-M. Griebeler. 2015. Growth patterns and life-history strategies in Placodontia (Diapsida: Sauropterygia). Royal Society Open Science, 2:140440. doi: 10.1098/rsos.140440.
Klein, N., A. Houssaye, J. M. Neenan and T. M. Scheyer. 2015. Long bone histology and microanatomy of Placodontia (Diapsida: Sauropterygia). Contributions to Zoology 84(1):59–84.
Neenan, J. M., M. Ruta, J. A. Clack and E. J. Rayfield. 2014. Feeding biomechanics in Acanthostega and across the fish-tetrapod transition. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Biological Sciences 281:1781. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.2689.
Neenan, J. M., C. Li, O. Rieppel, F. Bernardini, C. Tuniz, G. Muscio and T. M. Scheyer. 2014. Unique method of tooth replacement in durophagous placodont marine reptiles, with new data on the dentition of Chinese taxa. Journal of Anatomy 224(5):603-613. doi: 10.1111/joa.12162.
Neenan, J. M. and T. M. Scheyer. 2014. New specimen of Psephoderma alpinum (Sauropterygia, Placodontia) from the Late Triassic of Schesaplana Mountain, Graubünden, Switzerland. Swiss Journal of Geosciences 107:349–357. doi: 10.1007/s00015-014-0173-9.
Neenan, J. M., N. Klein and T. M. Scheyer. 2013. European origin of placodont marine reptiles and the evolution of crushing dentition in Placodontia. Nature Communications 4:1621, doi:10.1038/ncomms2633.
Neenan, J. M. and T. M. Scheyer. 2012. The braincase and inner ear of Placodus gigas (Sauropterygia, Placodontia) - a new reconstruction based on micro-computed tomographic data. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32(6):1350-1357, doi:10.1080/02724634.2012.695241.
Scheyer, T. M., J. M. Neenan, S. Renesto, F. Saller, H. Hagdorn et al. 2012. Revised paleoecology of placodonts – with a comment on ‘The shallow marine placodont Cyamodus of the central European Germanic Basin: its evolution, paleobiogeography and paleoecology’ by C.G. Diedrich (Historical Biology, iFirst article, 2011, 1–19, doi: 10.1080/08912963.2011.575938). Historical Biology 24:257-267, doi:10.1080/08912963.2011.621083.