Christopher Brochu

Chris Brochu
Professor
Phone: 
(319) 353-1808
Office: 
221 TH
Curriculum Vitae: 
Research Interests: 
Vertebrate Paleontology

I’m a vertebrate paleontologist and systematist who applies phylogenetic methods to understand biodiversity. I’m interested in the reciprocal light morphological, genomic, and fossil data can shed on the phylogeny, distribution, and diversity of groups throughout their evolutionary histories.

Most of my lab’s work explores the phylogeny and historical biogeography of crocodyliforms – alligators, crocodiles, gharials, and their close relatives. Their low present diversity (23 recognized species) and rich fossil record gives us a rare opportunity to integrate the earth and life sciences.  We can synthesize molecular data from all living species with the deep-time perspective directly obtainable only from fossils.  Crocodyliform fossils are known from every continent and are ubiquitous in continental and nearshore deposits from the time they first appear in the Jurassic to the present.  We can look at biotic responses to climate and tectonic change over a variety of time scales.

Recent projects have focused on derived neosuchians and the origin of Crocodylia in the Late Cretaceous; the diversity and phylogeny of Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic crocodylians in North America and the Neotropics; conflicts over the relationships of crocodyliforms with long, narrow snouts; and the history of crocodylians in Africa and the western Indian Ocean over the past 30 million years.

Recent papers:

Puértolas Pascual, E., A. Blanco, C.A. Brochu, and J.I. Canudo. In press. Review of the Late Cretaceous – Early Paleogene crocodylomorphs of Europe: extinction patterns across the K/Pg Boundary.  Cretaceous Research.

Narváez, I., C.A. Brochu, F. Escaso, A. Pérez-Garcia, and F. Ortega. 2015. New crocodyliform from southwestern Europe and definition of a diverse clade of European uppermost Cretaceous basal eusuchians.  PLoS One 10:e0140679.

Green, R.E., E.L. Braun, J. Armstrong, D. Earl, N. Nguyen, G. Hickey, M.W. Vandewege, J.A. St John, S. Capella-Gutiérrez, T.A. Castoe, C. Kern, M.K. Fujita, J.C. Opazo, J. Jurka, K.K. Kojima, J. Caballero, R.M. Hubley, A. Smit, R.N. Platt, C.A. Lavoie, M.P. Ramakodi, J.W. Finger Jr,, A. Suh, S.R. Isberg, L. Miles, A.Y. Chong, W. Jaratlerdsiri, J. Gongora, C. Moran, A. Iriarte, B.C. Faircloth, J. McCormack, S.C. Burgess, S.V. Edwards, E. Lyons, C. Williams, M. Breen, J.T. Howard, C.R. Gresham, D.G. Peterson, J. Schmitz, D.D. Pollock, D. Haussler, E.W. Triplett, G. Zhang, N. Irie, E.D. Jarvis, C.A. Brochu, C.J. Schmidt, F.M. McCarthy, F.G. Hoffmann, T.C. Glenn, T. Gabaldón, B. Paten, and D.A. Ray. 2014.  The genomes of three crocodilians provide insight into archosaur evolution. Science 346:1254449.

Brochu, C.A. 2013. Phylogenetic relationships of Palaeogene ziphodont eusuchians and the status of Pristichampsus Gervais 1853.  Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 103:521-550.

Brochu, C.A, and G.W Storrs, 2012.  A giant crocodile from the Plio-Pleistocene of Kenya, the phylogenetic relationships of Neogene African crocodylines, and the antiquity of Crocodylus in Africa.  Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32:587-602.

Research Areas: