Thin Ice

University of Oxford, United Kingdom

Martin is Professor of Paleobiology at Oxford. He asks “Just how good are patterns in the fossil record for studying the origins of major biological groups? And just how good is our own mental equipment for interpreting those patterns when we discover them?” His first tentative answers to these questions emerged after a year as Ship's Scientist aboard HMS Fawn in the Caribbean in 1970. From this he could see that analysis of interconnections between and within systems might help decode the early history of life. Since then he has sought to expand our understanding of big transitions in the fossil record, pushing his group’s researches ever deeper in geological time. Martin is the author of two outreach books on these topics: Darwin's Lost World and Secret Chambers. He has also served as Chairman of the Subcommission on Cambrian Stratigraphy, as well as a NASA panel on life on Mars.