Our ScientistsMichael Newbrey Ph.D.

Betsy Nicholls Postdoctoral Fellow

Michael Newbrey

Michael Newbrey specializes in the field of palaeoichthyology, the study of fossil fish. His general research interests include freshwater teleost systematics, biogeography, and ecology for both extant and extinct fishes. He is particularly interested in the effects of climate change on fish populations and evolution. The geologic record contains many instances of major climate change and, as such, the fishes deposited before, during, and after climate change offer insight into the effects of climate change on fishes.


Contact Information

Toll free in Alberta:
310-0000 then (403) 823-7707

Toll free in North America
(outside Alberta):

Outside North American:

Email: mike.newbrey@gov.ab.ca

Current Research

Michael studies fish diversity and relationships among climate change, individual fish growth, and distribution of both bony fish and sharks in the fossil record. His research is very interesting and timely since very little is known about how fish will respond to current climate change. In one recent study, he reported on the first North American occurrence of a fossil characiform, a group including the tetras and piranhas, in the Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Formation of Alberta at a palaeolatitude of 55°N. This is the most northerly occurrence of a characiform reported to date, and their range extension northward into the high palaeolatitude locality was probably due to a warmer climate in the Cretaceous (Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276:3829-3833).

In a second study, Michael and others examined Eocene seasonal temperatures using fish and other organisms from the Arctic. This study was important as it provided a model for a globally-warm climate when warm water fishes, tortoises, alligators, and primates inhabited the Arctic during the warmest time on record since the dinosaurs became extinct (Earth and Planetary Science Letters 296:481-486, listen to an interview on the CBC's Quirks and Quarks website).

Two of Michael’s other studies have shown that some sharks shift their geographic distribution with climate change in the fossil record. These included a lamniform shark (i.e., Mackerel sharks, Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30:643-649) and a shark found in freshwater deposits of the Cretaceous of North America (Cook et al.).

To better pursue his interests in fish ecology, Michael also functions as an ichthyologist and describes new fossil fish taxa. He just described a new ellimichthyiform fish (doubled-armoured herring) (Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 47:1183-1196). He is also in the process of describing two spiny-rayed fishes from the Cretaceous of North America; one represents a new species and the other represents a new genus. One of these fish is a member of a new freshwater fish assemblage that was recently discovered in Alberta. The new assemblage, which is from a riverbed, contains at least 15 fish taxa; a description of one taxon is already in review (Cook et al., in review). The other fishes also represent new taxa and Michael will continue working with the Alberta fish assemblage to describe the other fish species for years to come.

Recent Publications

Cook, T.D., M.G. Newbrey, A.M. Murray, M.V.H. Wilson, K. Shimada, G.T. Takeuchi, and J.D. Stewart. In press. A partial skeleton of the Late Cretaceous lamniform shark, Archaeolamna kopingensis, from the Pierre Shale of western Kansas. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Brinkman, D.B., M.G. Newbrey, A.G. Neuman and J. Eaton. In press. Freshwater Osteichthyes from the Cenomanian to middle Campanian of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. Submitted for a special publication on fossils from the Gran Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Utah. Indiana Press, 1 January 2010, 116 pp.

Newbrey, M.G., A.M. Murray, D.B. Brinkman, M.V.H. Wilson and A.G. Neuman. 2010. A new articulated freshwater fish (Clupeomorpha, Ellimmichthyiformes) from the Horseshoe Canyon Formation, Maastrichtian, of Alberta, Canada. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 47(9):1183-1196.

Eberle, J.J., H.C. Fricke, J.D. Humphrey, L. Hackett, M.G. Newbrey, and J.H. Hutchison. 2010. Seasonal variability in Arctic temperatures during early Eocene time. Earth and Planetary Science Letters 296(3-4):481-486.

Cook, T.D., M.V.H. Wilson and M.G. Newbrey. 2010. The first record of the large Cretaceous lamniform shark, Cardabiodon ricki, from North America and a new empirical test for its presumed antitropical distribution. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 30(3):643-649.

Newbrey, M.G., A.M. Murray, M.V.H. Wilson, D.B. Brinkman and A.G. Neuman. 2009. Seventy-five-million-year-old tropical tetra-like fish from Canada tracks Cretaceous global warming. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276 (1672):3829-3833, 3 pages in Supplementary Data.

Newbrey, M.G., M.V.H. Wilson and A.C. Ashworth. 2008. Climate Change and Evolution of growth in Late Cretaceous to Recent North American Esociformes, pp. 311-350. In Mesozoic Fishes 4 - Homology, and Phylogeny; edited by G. Arratia, H.P. Schultze, and M.V.H. Wilson. Verlag Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, Munich, Germany.

Newbrey, M.G., M.V.H. Wilson and A.C. Ashworth. 2007. Centrum growth patterns provide evidence for two small taxa of Hiodontidae in the Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Formation. Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences 44(7):721-732.

Baltezore, J.M. and M.G. Newbrey. 2007. The infection dynamics of a hypothetical virus in a high school: Use of an ultraviolet detectable powder. The American Biology Teacher 69(2):99-103.

Newbrey, M.G. and J.M. Baltezore. 2006. Poster presentations: Conceptualizing, constructing and critiquing. The American Biology Teacher 68(9):550-554.

Newbrey, M.G. and M.V.H. Wilson. 2005. Recognition of annular growth on centra of Teleostei with application to Hiodontidae of the Cretaceous Dinosaur Park Formation. In Dinosaur Park Symposium; edited by D.R. Braman, F. Therrien, E.B. Koppelhus, and W. Taylor. Special Publication of the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Drumheller, Alberta. pp. 61-68.

Newbrey, M.G., M.A. Bozek, M.J. Jennings and J.E. Cook. 2005. Branching complexity and morphological characteristics of coarse woody structure as lacustrine fish habitat. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 62(9):2110-2123.

Newbrey, M.G. and A.C. Ashworth. 2004. A fossil record of colonization and response of lacustrine fish populations to climate change. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 61(10):1807-1816.

Newbrey, M.G. and M.A. Bozek. 2003. Age, growth, and mortality of Joffrichthys triangulpterus (Teleostei: Osteoglossidae) from the Paleocene Sentinel Butte Formation, North Dakota, USA. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 23(3):494-500.

Newbrey, M.G. and M.A. Bozek. 2000. A new species of Joffrichthys (Teleostei: Osteoglossidae) of the Sentinel Butte Formation (Paleocene), of North Dakota, USA. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 20(1):6-14.

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