School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Steven Vidovic

  • Role Title: PhD Researcher
  • Address: Burnaby Building Burnaby Road Portsmouth PO1 3QL
  • Telephone: 023 9284 2418
  • Email:
  • Department: SEES
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


During my childhood there was a resurgence of dinosaurs within popular science, the media, films and magazines. This sparked an interest that eventually led to my undergraduate studies at UoP in Palaeobiology and Evolution. I graduated in ’09 and started a postgraduate research degree studying pterosaur morphometrics and its use in functional morphology, and cladistic relationships of the group. My research has become more analytical and I am looking at ways of expressing morphology numerically for computational analyses. I have expertise in cladistics, geometric morphometrics, 2D finite element analysis and statistical analyses of fossil material. Currently, I demonstrate in evolution and phylogeny and lecturer in vertebrate palaeontology and phylogeny.

Professional record:

  • BSc Hons Palaeobiology and Evolution
  • PgCert
  • Demonstrating in sedimentology, palaeobiology, evolution and phylogeny 
  • Lecturing in the field of vertebrate palaeontology (Part-Time)


A review of pterosaur phylogenies (evolutionary trees)
A reappraisal of cladistic methodologies and testing their effect on pterosaur evolutionary trees. Currently there are at least three competing hypotheses of pterosaur evolution. I am investigating the methods of data inclusion used by different researchers, the weighting effect, and the tree disagreement produced as a result. As part of the project I have produced a new cladistic analysis for Pterosauria, with the largest data set to date. Because continuous characters can confound an analysis I have developed a new data transformation that allows morphometric data to be utilized without mathematically generating biases or errors. To compare tree shapes and measure their agreement I have developed a new congruence metric for the statistical analysis of evolutionary trees.

New British dinosaur (Martill et al. 2016)
The new dinosaur was found near Cardiff, Wales. I was involved in the project to place the dinosaur in the tree of life. My early involvement in the project meant that I was also involved in the dinosaur’s anatomical description. I worked closely with palaeoartist Bob Nicholls to produce the press release image. The press release was awarded a Gold Award by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations Pride Cymru.

Aerodactylus scolopaciceps (Vidovic and Martill 2014)
As lead author of the paper I devised and executed the experiments, visited the institutions holding the material and wrote the paper. The paper employed numerous methods including a cladistic analysis of Pterodactyloidea, comparison of linear measurements and inferential statistics.

Koumpiodontosuchus aprosdokiti (Sweetman et al. 2014)
I performed the cladistic analysis of the bernissartiid crocodile Koumpiodontosuchus aprosdokiti from the Isle of Wight, UK. The phylogenetic position needed to be resolved by a cladistic analysis, however I identified that many crocodile cladistic analyses contained numerous compound characters, confounding the analyses. As a result I culled characters from the literature, re-wrote and re-coded many and produced a far more robust analysis.

Pterosaur dental microstructures (Vidovic 2010; in prep)
To review pterosaur dental microstructures I sectioned and studied ornithocheirid and rhamphorhynchid pterosaur teeth. They were analysed using scanning electron microscopy and transmitted light microscopy. In doing so I revealed that the reduced enamel cap of pterosaurs was part of a more complex tooth system, interacting with a protective cementum layer never described before.

Undergraduate research project
The fossil fauna and deposition of in the Pakhna Formation, Cyprus. Shallow marine fossil fishes occur in a deep marine basin, possibly as a result of cyclic “monsoonal” sapropels which preceded the Mediterranean tectonic evolution.

Computer programs: Cladistics – TNT, Mesquite, PAUP*, Maclade, Dendroscope, R packages, GenGIS; Geometric morphometrics – TPSdig 2, TPSrelw, R packages, MorphoJ; Finite element analysis – ImageJ, Lisa Statistical analysis – R, SPSS, Excel;

Graphics – Corel Draw, Corel Photo-Paint. Expertise: Vertebrate comparative anatomy, specializing in pterosaurs; cladistics – critical review, character theory, coding theory, weighting theory, and morphometric data input; taxonomy.

Laboratory: Scanning electron microscopy; preparation of histological samples; acid digestion; microvertebrate sieving and picking; mechanical fossil preparation.

Martill, D.M., Vidovic, S.U., Howells, C., Nudds, J.R. in press. The oldest Jurassic dinosaur: a basal neotheropod from the Hettangian of Great Britain. PLoS ONE.

Sweetman, S., Pedreira-Segade, U., Vidovic, S. 2014. A new bernissartiid crocodyliform from the Lower Cretaceous Wessex Formation (Wealden Group, Barremian) of the Isle of Wight, southern England. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. doi:10.4202/app.00038.2013

Vidovic, S.U. 2010. A preliminary analysis of dental microstructure in pterosaurs. Acta Geoscientica Sinica. 31, 70–72.

Vidovic, S.U., Martill, D.M. 2014. Pterodactylus scolopaciceps Meyer, 1860 (Pterosauria, Pterodactyloidea) from the Upper Jurassic of Bavaria, Germany: The Problem of Cryptic Pterosaur Taxa in Early Ontogeny. PLoS ONE. 9, e110646. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110646