Michael Stein
PhD candidate
Field of Research: 
Paleontology, Paleoecology
Contact details:
+61 2 9385 5125

Room 555, D26 Building
UNSW, Kensington 2052

Thesis title (working):

Topics in the post-crania of Australian Mekosuchinae regarding paleoecological and locomotory diversification in crocodiles.


Crocodiles are often held up as the archetypal living fossils ‘unchanged since the time of the dinosaurs’. However, the forces driving evolution and adaptation are never truly at rest. The perception of crocodiles as ‘unchanging’ is arguably due more to the prevalence of semi-aquatic ambush hunting of modern crocodilians. In contrast, the crocodilian fossil record is dynamic and preserves numerous radiations both towards and deviating from this state. Australian fossil Mekosuchinae crocodiles appear to represent a recent example of deviation, one occurring well into the Tertiary and possibly into the modern Quaternary. A number of species display features of the cranium that suggest terrestrially focused hunting strategies.  Were this the case, it should be reflected in the locomotion of the post-crania. My research has focused on surveying available post-cranial materials, and appears to have found evidence for such a transformation in locomotory strategy. Quantifying this has provided important insight into not only how species begin to exploit novel ecological niches but the conditions that lead to their success or failure.



Associate Professor Sue Hand


Professor Mike Archer



Stein, M., Salisbury, S.W., Hand, S.J., Archer, M. & Godthelp, H., 2012. Humeral morphology of the early Eocene mekosuchine crocodylian Kambara from the Tingamarra Local Fauna southeastern Queensland, Australia. Alcheringa.