School of Earth and Environmental Sciences


Nathan Barling

  • Role Title: PhD Researcher
  • Address: Burnaby Building Burnaby Road Portsmouth PO1 3QL
  • Telephone: 023 9284 2257
  • Email:
  • Department: SEES
  • Faculty: Faculty of Science


I am a PhD Researcher in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.


The Crato Formation of northeast Brazil is famous for its exceptional preservation of fossils. It yields exquisitely preserved plant, insect, fish and reptile fossils that represent an entire ecosystem. The ecology and diversity of this formation has been under study for many years, but a full understanding of the processes that gave rise to the exceptional preservation is lacking. This research project examines the preservation of the insects from this formation, as they are the best preserved (even individual muscle fibres are preserved) and are relatively common.

The main aims are to identify the taphonomic and diagenetic processes leading to the exceptional preservation, including the elucidation of death to burial pathways and the identification of replacement mineral phases. This involves understanding the sediments in which the insects were first deposited, how those sediments changed over time (diagenesis), and how the minerals respond to weathering.

A full understanding of the preservation of these insects will not only expand our knowledge on how some of the highest quality fossils in the world are formed, but may also reveal any biases that are present in the fossil record.

Director of Studies: Dr. David Martill