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School of Environment and Life Sciences

Dr Robin Beck

Lecturer in Biology


I graduated with a BA (Hons) in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge in 2002, followed by an MSc in Advanced Methods in Taxonomy and Biodiversity at the Natural History Museum and Imperial College, London, in 2003. My PhD (2005-2008, University of New South Wales) was entitled 'Form, function, phylogeny and biogeography of enigmatic Australian metatherians'. From 2009 to 2011, I was a postdoc at the American Museum of Natural History, studying the evolution marsupials. 

From 2012 to 2014, I was a postdoc at the University of New South Wales, studying 55 million year old fossil mammals from Australia. Since 2014, I have been Lecturer in Biology at the University of Salford. I have undertaken palaeontological fieldwork in Australia, New Zealand and Antarctica.


I am module leader for Level 4 Biodiversity and contribute teaching to Biological Skills, Contemporary Topics in Wildlife Conservation, Evolution Development and Adaptation, Frontiers in Zoo Biology, Human Genetics and Scientific Methods. I also act as tutor at Levels 3-6, and supervise final year undergraduate and MSc research projects.  

Research Interests

My major research interests are the morphology, systematics and biogeography of mammals. I have ongoing collaborations with researchers in the UK, Argentina, Australia, France, Germany, New Zealand and the USA, focusing on the origin and evolution of major groups of Southern Hemisphere mammals (including monotremes, marsupials and bats), and on the timing of the origin of placental mammals. I have more general interests within evolutionary biology, including combining morphological and molecular data to resolve phylogenetic relationships and divergence times, analysing rates of diversification and trait evolution, and quantitative methods of biogeographical analysis. 

Qualifications and Memberships

Editorial board member for Scientific Reports and Journal of Mammalian Evolution.

Assessor for the Australian Research Council.

Research associate at the American Museum of Natural History and the University of New South Wales.

Adjunct lecturer at the University of Cambridge.


The following selected publications give an indication of my research interests:

Archer M., Hand S.J., Black K.H., Beck R.M.D., Arena D.A., Wilson L.A., Kealy S., Hung T.T. 2016. A new family of bizarre durophagous carnivorous marsupials from Miocene deposits in the Riversleigh World Heritage Area, northwestern Queensland. Scientific Reports 6: 26911.

Beck R.M.D. 2016. The skull of Epidolops ameghinoi from the early Eocene Itaboraí fauna, southeastern Brazil, and the affinities of the extinct marsupialiform order Polydolopimorphia. Journal of Mammalian Evolution doi: 10.1007/s10914-016-9357-6

Beck R.M.D, Warburton N.M., Archer M., Hand S.J., Aplin KP. 2016. Going underground: postcranial morphology of the early Miocene marsupial mole Naraboryctes philcreaseri and the evolution of fossoriality in notoryctemorphians. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 74: 151-171.

Beck, R.M.D. 2015. A peculiar faunivorous metatherian from the early Eocene of Australia. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 60: 123-129.

Beck, R.M.D., Lee, M.S.Y. 2014. Ancient dates or accelerated rates? Morphological clocks and the antiquity of placental mammals. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 281: 20141278.

Beck, R.M.D. 2012. An 'ameridelphian' marsupial from the early Eocene of Australia supports a complex model of Southern Hemisphere marsupial biogeography. Naturwissenschaften 99: 715-729.

Rougier, G.W., Wible, J.R., Apesteguía, S., Beck, R.M.D. 2012. The Miocene mammal Necrolestes demonstrates the survival of a Mesozoic non-therian lineage into the late Cenozoic of South America. PNAS 109: 20053-20058.

Ladevèze, S., Muizon, C. de, Beck, R.M.D., Germain, D., Cespedes Paz, R. 2011.  Earliest evidence of mammalian social behaviour in the basal Tertiary of Bolivia. Nature 474:83-86.

Hand, S.J., Weisbecker, V., Beck, R.M.D., Archer, M., Godthelp, H., Tennyson, A.J.D., Worthy, T.H. 2009. Bats that walk: a new evolutionary hypothesis for the terrestrial behaviour of New Zealand's endemic mystacinids. BMC Evolutionary Biology 9: 169.

Beck R.M.D. 2009. Was the Oligo-Miocene Australian metatherian Yalkaparidon a 'mammalian woodpecker'? Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 97:1-17.

Beck, R.M.D., Godthelp, H., Weisbecker, V., Archer, M., Hand, S.J. 2008. Australia’s oldest marsupial fossils and their biogeographical implications. PLoS ONE 3: e1858.

Beck, R. M. D. 2008. A dated phylogeny of marsupials using a molecular supermatrix and multiple fossil constraints. Journal of Mammalogy 89: 175-189.

Bininda-Emonds, O.R.P., Cardillo, M., Jones, K.E., MacPhee, R.D.E., Beck, R.M.D., Grenyer, R., Price, S.A., Vos, R.A., Gittleman, J.L., Purvis, A. 2007. The delayed rise of present-day mammals. Nature 446: 507-512.

Worthy, T.H., Tennyson, A.J.D., Archer, M., Musser, A.M., Hand, S.J., Jones, C., Douglas, B.J., Mcnamara, J.A., Beck, R.M.D. 2006. Miocene mammal reveals a Mesozoic ghost lineage on insular New Zealand, southwest Pacific. PNAS 103, 19419-19423.