Kenneth McNamara

Emeritus Fellow, Downing College, University of Cambridge

Dr Ken McNamara is a University Senior Lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences and Director of the Sedgwick Museum. He is also a Fellow and Dean at Downing College.The underlying thread that runs through much of his research is the relationship between evolution and development, with particular reference to the fossil record. He has been at the University of Cambridge for five years. Prior to that he was a Senior Curator at the Western Australian Museum for nearly 30 years.

Current projects include: the role of developmental change in macroevolution, with particular emphasis on heterochrony in dinosaur evolution and the evolution of patterns of segmentation in trilobites, and trying to relate this to changes in the activity of particular developmental gene sequences; analysis of patterns of evolution and extinction in trilobites before and after the Late Devonian mass extinction event, 370 million years ago; diversity, palaeoecology and patterns of gastropod predation on Eocene and Miocene sea urchins; biotic responses to mass extinctions in Late Cretaceous serpulid worms, with particular emphasis on phenotypic variation as an indicator of environmental stress; the archaeology and folklore of fossil sea urchins.

He has written, co-written or edited a number of books, including 'The Star-Crossed Stone' (2010); 'Prehistoric Mammals of Western Australia' (2010); 'Australia's Meteorite Craters' (2009); Pinnacles' (2009); 'Stromatolites' (2009); 'The Evolution Revolution' (2007); 'Human Evolution and Developmental Change' (2002); 'Ancient Floras of Western Australia' (2001); 'Shapes of Time: the Evolution of Growth and Development' (1997); 'Evolutionary Change and Heterochrony' (1995); 'Heterochrony: the Evolution of Ontogeny' (1991).


  • 1979–2007
    Senior Curator, Western Australian Museum


    University of Cambridge, PhD