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The University of Tennessee

Earth and Planetary Sciences

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Colin D. Sumrall



My research is centered on understanding the paleobiology of extinct echinoderms (starfish and their allies). My research tends to be phylogenetically oriented and echinoderms lend themselves to a phylogenetic approach because their intricate morphology, coupled with a high degree of morphological disparity, allow for the coding of robust datasets for phylogenetic analysis. At present I am focusing on three fundamental questions:

  1. What is the nature of the Cambrian-Ordovician explosive radiation of echinoderm body plans?
  2. How can phylogeny and development be used to answer paleontological questions?
  3. How is the collection of fossils and consequently our understanding of the fossil record biased by geography, time, and facies?


Colin Sumrall

Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences
1412 Circle Drive
Knoxville, TN 37996-1410
Phone: (865) 974-0400

Research and Teaching Activities