Our ScientistsCaleb Brown, Ph.D.
Caleb Brown studies dinosaur palaeobiology, particularly in the Late Cretaceous (83 to 64 million years ago) of Western North America. Growing up in Red Deer, Caleb was exposed to Alberta’s fossil history at a young age and never turned back. He got his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Calgary and acquired his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. One aspect of Caleb’s research investigates taphonomy (the study of what happens to an animal after it dies), specifically the role of depositional environments in shaping our understanding of ancient ecosystems. He is also very interested in documenting morphological variation in the horns and ornamentation structures of horned dinosaurs to test ideas regarding evolutionary mode in this group.
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Caleb has two main research projects investigating dinosaur palaeobiology in Alberta, both largely focusing on the Dinosaur Park Formation and region of Dinosaur Provincial Park.
The first research project investigates how preservational mechanisms of ancient depositional environments can skew our understanding of past patterns of biodiversity and palaeoecology via size-related taphonomic biases. He has quantitatively explored the strong biases that exist against the preservation, discovery, and completeness of small-bodied dinosaur species in a model alluvial-paralic system (Dinosaur Park Formation) in the Late Cretaceous of North America (Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 372:108-122). These preservational biases may lead to an underestimation of the diversity and abundance of small dinosaurs, as well as their potential ecological roles. Caleb is now expanding this research beyond dinosaurs to include all vertebrate species within this formation (e.g., fish, amphibians, lizards, turtles and mammals), allowing comparison between taxonomic groups, and between aquatic and terrestrial components. He is also planning to expand the regional and geological scale of this type of research to investigate similar questions through examination of other important fossil formations in Alberta.
Caleb’s second area of research focuses on a group of horned dinosaurs, the Centrosaurinae, known for their elaborately ornamented shield-like frill and nasal and orbital horns. Unique aspects of centrosaurine biology and fossil record, most notably the occurrence of multiple monodominant (represented largely by one species) bonebeds, and highly diagnostic frills, make them an ideal model system for quantifying patterns of morphological variation within dinosaur populations and species to investigate and test for modes of dinosaur evolution. Although these centrosaurine bonebeds are known to occur over a large stratigraphic interval, only a few have been systematically excavated. As a result, although some stratigraphic intervals are well sampled, many others are poorly sampled. Caleb will be conducting fieldwork in Dinosaur Provincial Park to excavate several bonebeds to document the range of morphological variation in these time-successive populations. It is a rare occurrence in the fossil record that variation within successive dinosaur populations may be quantified, and the amazing fossil locations of Dinosaur Provincial Park allow this possibility.
Arbour, J. A. and C. M. Brown. In Press. Incomplete specimens in morphometric analyses. Methods in Ecology and Evolution.
Brown, C. M., D. C. Evans, M. J. Ryan, and A. P. Russell. 2013 New data on the diversity and abundance of small-bodied ornithopods (Dinosauria: Ornithischia) from the Belly River Group (Campanian) of Alberta. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33. p. 495-520.
Evans, D. C., R. K. Schott, D. Larson, C. M. Brown, and M. J. Ryan. 2013. The oldest North American pachycephalosaurid and the hidden diversity of small-bodied ornithischian dinosaurs. Nature Communications 4, 1828. doi:10.1038/ncomms2749
Brown, C. M., N. E. Campione, H. C. Giacomini, L. J. O’Brien, M. J. Vavrek, and D. C. Evans. 2012. Ecological modelling, size distributions, and taphonomic size bias in dinosaur faunas: a comment on Codron et al., 2012. Biology Letters. 20120582.
Brown, C. M., D. C. Evans, N. E. Campione, L. J. O’Brien, and D. A. Eberth. 2013. Evidence for Taphonomic Size Bias in a Model Mesozoic Terrestrial Alluvial-Paralic System. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 372: p. 108-122.
Brown, C. M., J. A. Arbour, and D. Jackson. 2012. Testing of the effect of missing data estimation and distribution in morphometric multivariate data analyses. Systematic Biology. 61(6): p 941-954.
Ryan, M. J., D. C. Evans, P. J. Currie, C. M. Brown, and D. Brinkman. 2012. New Leptoceratopsids from the Late Cretaceous of Alberta, Canada. Cretaceous Research. 35. p. 69-80.
Brown, C. M. and A. P. Russell. 2012. Homology and Architecture of the Caudal Basket of Pachycephalosauria (Dinosauria: Ornithischia): The first occurrence of myorhabdoi in Tetrapoda. PLoS ONE. 7(1): e30212. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0030212.
Brown, C. M., C. A. Boyd, and A. P. Russell. 2011. A new basal ornithopod dinosaur (Frenchman Formation, Saskatchewan, Canada) and its implications for late Maastrichtian ornithischian diversity in North America. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 163: p. 1157-1198.
Brown, C. M. and P. Druckenmiller. 2011 Basal Ornithopod (Ornithischia: Ornithopoda) Teeth from the Late Cretaceous Prince Creek Formation of Alaska. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 48 p. 1342-1354.
Schott R. K., D. C. Evans, M. B. Goodwin, J. R. Horner, C. M. Brown, and N. R. Longrich. 2011. Cranial Ontogeny in Stegoceras validum (Dinosauria: Pachycephalosauria): A Quantitative Model of Pachycephalosaur Dome Growth and Variation. PLoS ONE 6(6): e21092. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0021092.
Evans, D. C., C. M. Brown, M. J. Ryan, and K. Tsogtbattar. 2011. Cranial ornamentation and ontogenetic status of Homalocephalae calathocercos (Ornithischia: Pachycephalosauria) from the Nemegt Formation, Mongolia. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 31:1 p. 84-92.
Boyd C. A., C. M. Brown, R. Scheetz and J. Clarke. 2009. Taxonomic revision of the basal neornithischian taxa Thescelosaurus and Bugenasaura. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 29:3 p. 758-770.
Brown C. M., A. P. Russell, and M. J. Ryan. 2009. Pattern and transition of surficial bone texture of the centrosaurine frill and their ontogenetic and taxonomic implications. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 29:1 p. 132-141.
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