School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Dr David Martill

  • Qualifications: PhD
  • Role Title: Reader
  • Address: School of Earth & Environmental Sciences University of Portsmouth Burnaby Building Burnaby Road Portsmouth PO1 3QL
  • Telephone: 023 92 842256
  • Email:
  • Department: Earth and Environmental Sciences
  • Faculty: Science


I am a reader in palaeobiology. I work mainly on the palaeobiology of pterosaurs and exceptional preservation of fossil vertebrates. I am particularly interested in cretaceous with projects on the dinosaurs of the Isle of Wight and the palaeoecology of the Crato Formation, Brazil.

Teaching Responsibilities

  • Level 1: Life and Time
  • Level 1: Field Mapping in Spain
  • Level 1: Introduction to field techniques. Isle of Wight and Dorset
  • Level 2: Vertebrate Palaeontology 1
  • Level 2: Palaeotechniques and Micropalaeontology
  • Level 3: Vertebrate Palaeontology and traces to humans
  • Level 3: Phylogeny and Evolution
  • Level 3: Fossil Lagestätten field trip to Germany

Research Interests

The preservation of fossil soft tissues: mechanisms and palaeobiology

Work concentrating mainly on phosphatised soft tissues with high fidelity morphological resolution. Investigating chemistry and rates of process. Comparisons with recent material and actualistic experiments. Also work on preservation of organically preserved soft structures of Mesozoic marine reptiles and birds (especially feathers).

Palaeoecology of the Crato lagoon, Araripe Basin, N. E. Brazil

The Crato Formation conservation Lagerstätte is one of the most productive sites for Gonwanan insects and pterosaurs. Currently investigating the extent of fossil bearing horizons, facies relationships of its members and distribution of taxa geographically and temporally. 

Trophic structure of marine mudrock sequences

Investigating complexity of ancient food webs in palaeoenvironmnetal settings where fossil record is considered good to exceptional. Using exceptional fossils (e.g. with stomach contents preserved), comparative anatomy and paradigm approaches. Geochemistry, including trace element and stable isotope methods. Concentrating on Jurassic Oxford Clay and Kimmeridge Clay formations. 

The palaeobiology of pterosaurs

Investigating modes of bone growth and palaeophysiology of pterosaurs using exceptionally preserved examples from the Cretaceous Crato and Santana formations of the Araripe Basin, Brazil. Additional work using pterosaurs from northern Chile and Isle of Wight, UK. 

The diversity of dinosaurs

Studies concentrate on diversity and morphology of local Early Cretaceous dinosaur faunas of the English Weladen Group. Also work on South American dinosaur faunas and biogeography of Early Cretaceous dinosaur. 

Diversity of Pterosaurs

A joint project with palaeontology artist Luis Rey detailing the diversity of the Pterosauria.


View all publications on Parade…


Dr Paulo Brito, Rio de Janeiro

Dr Andre Nel, Paris

Dr Jason Dunlop, Berlin

Dr Gunter Bechly, Stuutgart

Professor John Hudson, Leicester

Dr Phil Wilby, BGS

Dr David Unwin, Berlin

Dr Eberhard Frey Karlsruhe and Prof Guillermo Chong Diaz, Antofagasta


  • Palaeontological Association, Council Member 1996-1999
  • Editor: Historical Biology, 1995-2000
  • Editor: Senckenberiana Lethaea, 2006-
  • Royal Society, Summer Science Exhibition Committee, 2006-
  • Science Faculty Research Degree Committee, 2006-
  • External examiner for PhD thesis at Leicester, Bristol and Manchester
  • Supervisor for 8 internal PhD students
  • Steering group member, ESF Network Fossil Insects. 1998-2000
  • Palaeontological Association 1977- Present
  • Society of Vertebrate Paleontology 1984 – Present
  • European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontology 1997- Present
  • Palaeontographical Society 1988-1992
  • East Midlands Geologist ’s Association. 1994-1999
  • Geologist ’ Association 1995- 2000
  • Isle of Wight Geological Society 1995- present
  • Leicester Literary and Philosophical Society 1979-82
  • Fellow of the Linnean Society, 2000-present