Ricardo Pérez-de la Fuente
I'm interested in the paleobiology of terrestrial arthropods, namely insects and spiders. Although necessarily grounded in taxonomy, my studies do not only describe paleodiversity but primarily aim at extracting paleoecological, paleoethological, paleobiogeographical, and taphonomical data. My research focuses on the Early Cretaceous, one of the most important epochs for the diversification of terrestrial arthropods, linked with the angiosperm radiation. I have, however, studied both adpression fossils (i.e., impressions and compressions) and amber inclusions from deposits spanning ~160 million years, from the Middle Jurassic to the Late Miocene.
My current position at Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology is devoted to digitize its fossil insect collection, which is the legacy of Prof. Frank M. Carpenter and comprises about 30,000 specimens. This enterprise takes part of the Thematic Collections Network (TCN) “Fossil Insect Collaborative: A Deep-Time Approach to Studying Diversification and Response to Environmental Change”. The TCN is funded through the NSF’s “Advance Digitization of Biodiversity Collections Program”, and pursues to make available all the major collections of fossil insect specimens in the United States by creating electronic specimen records consisting of digital images and associated collection data. All this enormous amount of easily accessible data will have a significant impact on both education and research, and once integrated it will ultimately allow to extract broad-scale evolutionary, paleobiogeographical, and paleoecological patterns.
Drawing of Amarantoraphidia ventolina (Raphidioptera: †Mesoraphidiidae) from Early Cretaceous Spanish amber.
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Cambridge, MA 02138