Office: K-12

Phone: (717) 358-4135

Email: roger dot thomas at fandm dot edu

About Roger Thomas

Roger D. K. Thomas
John Williamson Nevin Memorial Professor of Geosciences, Emeritus
Office: Hackman Physical Sciences, K-12
Telephone:  (717) 358-4135     Fax: (717) 358-4186    Cell: (717) 847-3698

Originally trained in geology and invertebrate palaeontology, I have broad interests in paleobiology, evolutionary biology, and the history of geology.  Over 41 years, I taught 10 different courses at Franklin & Marshall College, which I served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, 1987-91.  Current projects include research on:

(1) the fauna and depositional environment of the Kinzers Formation (Lower Cambrian) of south-central Pennsylvania, including a recently published paper on the discovery of chaetae (typically an annelid-brachiopod character) in one of the earliest gastropods; work on a new species elucidating the range of feeding adaptations of radiodontid relatives of the arthropod predator, Anomalocaris; also work on early arthropod Odaraia.

(2) polymorphism of shells of the Pliocene bivalved mollusc Glycymeris americana, inferred to reflect the influence of transposable gene elements on shell formation.

(3) revision of a long-ago-written essay on the writings of Charles Darwin, Herman Melville and Kurt Vonnegut based on their observations in the Galápagos.

(4) writing of a fuller scholarly account of my assessment of our understanding of the influence of Leibniz, not Newton, reflected in James Hutton’s view of time.


Best Paper Prize 2020, awarded by the Editorial Board of Palaeontology

John and Mary Lou Pojeta Award, the Paleontological Society, 2019 (professional service)

Elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 2017

Elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America, 2011

Distinguished Service Award, the Paleontological Society, 2011

Centennial Fellow of the Paleontological Society, 2007

Named "Most Influential Professor in the Natural Sciences” by the F&M Class of 2003

Recipient of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundations Award for Distinguished Teaching, Franklin & Marshall, 1982


Ph.D. Geological Sciences, Harvard University, 1971
M.A. Geological Sciences, Harvard University, 1965
B.Sc., A.R.C.S. Geology, Imperial College, University of London, 1963

Selected publications:

2023 (RDKT and Elizabeth Driscoll)  Chickies Rock, a striking promontory on the Susquehanna River: the early Cambrian type locality of the trace fossil Skolithos and a model site for structural analysis  .Geological Society, London, Special Publications, v. 543,  (book in press)

2022  James Hutton’s concept of time: that of Leibniz, not Newton.  Geology Today 38(3): 108-111.

2021  Documentation by Citizen Scientists / Naturalists of the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ in Pennsylvania.  Geology Today 37(2): 56-61.

2020   RDKT,  B. Runnegar and K. Matt)  Pelagiella exigua, an early Cambrian stem gastropod with chaetae: lophotrochozoan heritage and conchiferan novelty.  Palaeontology 63: 601-627.

2018  (Dirk Knaust, RDKT and H. Allen Curran)  Skolithos linearis Haldeman, 1840 at its early Cambrian type locality, Chickies Rock, Pennsylvania: Analysis and designation of a neotype.  Earth-Science Reviews 185: 15-31.

2013   (RDKT, R. R. Schoch and D. B. Weishampel, eds.)  Analysis and Synthesis: Studies in Paleobiology, Evolution and the History of Science in Honour of Wolf-Ernst Reif, 1945-2009. Historical Biology 25 (2, Special Issue): 125-311.

2012  Arch and beam: deployment of microstructural fabrics in relation to loads exerted on the shells of bivalved molluscs in different functional regimes. Historical Biology, on-line: Historical Biology 25: 193-199.  (2013)

2012  (A. Seilacher and RDKT)  Self-organization and emergent individuality of favositid corals adapted to live on soft substrates.  Lethaia 45: 2-13.

2009   Gould’s Odyssey: Form may follow function, or former function, and all species are equal (especially bacteria), but history is trumps. In: W. D. Allmon, P. H. Kelley and R. M. Ross, Stephen Jay Gould: Reflections on His View of Life, p. 271-289.  Oxford University Press.

2005   Hierarchical integration of modular structures in the evolution of animal skeletons.  In: W. Callebaut and D. Rasskin-Gutman (eds.) Modularity: Understanding the Development and Evolution of Natural Complex Systems, 239-258. Cambridge, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.

2002   (A. Madzvamuse, RDKT, P. K. Maini and A. J. Wathen)  A numerical approach to the study of spatial pattern formation in the ligaments of arcoid bivalves.  Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 64: 501–530.

2000  (RDKT, A. Madzvamuse, P. K. Maini and A. J. Wathen)  Growth patterns of noetiid ligaments: Implications of developmental models for the origin of an evolutionary novelty among arcoid bivalves. In: E. M. Harper, J. D. Taylor and J. A. Crame (eds.), The Evolutionary Biology of the Bivalvia.  Geological Society of London, Special Publications 177: 279-289.

2000   (RDKT, R. M. Shearman and G. W. Stewart)  Evolutionary exploitation of design options by the first animals with hard skeletons.  Science 288: 1239–1242.

1993 (RDKT and W.-E. Reif)  The skeleton space: a finite set of organic designs.  Evolution 47: 341–360.

1988   Evolutionary convergence of bivalved shells: a comparative analysis of constructional constraints on their morphology. American Zoologist 28:  267–276.

1986   Taphonomy: ecology's loss is sedimentology's gain.  Palaios 1 (3): 206.      Introduction to theme issue, pp. 206–338, edited by R. D. K. Thomas.

1985   (W.-E. Reif, RDKT and M. S. Fischer)  Constructional morphology: the analysis of constraints in evolution.  Acta Biotheoretica 34:  233–248.

1979   (RDKT and E. C. Olson, eds.)  A Cold Look at the Warm-blooded Dinosaurs. American Association for the Advancement of Science, Selected Symposium 28, 517 pp. Introduction by E. C. Olson and R. D. K. Thomas, pp. 1–14.  Westview  Press; Boulder, Colorado.

1979   Constructional morphology.  In:  R. W. Fairbridge and D. Jablonski, eds.,    The Encyclopedia of Paleontology, pp. 482–487.  Dowden, Hutchinson and Ross; Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.

1978   Limits to opportunism in the evolution of the Arcoida (Bivalvia). Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, London284:  335–344.

1978   Shell form, adaptive strategy and the ecological range of living and extinct  Arcoida. Paleobiology 4: 181–194.

1976   Gastropod predation on sympatric Neogene species of Glycymeris (Bivalvia) from the eastern United States.  Journal of Paleontology 50: 488–499.

1976   Constraints of ligament growth, form and function on evolution in the Arcoida (Mollusca:  Bivalvia).  Paleobiology 2: 64–83.

1975   Functional morphology, ecology and evolutionary conservatism in the Glycymerididae (Bivalvia).  Palaeontology 18: 217–254.

1974   Instructor's Guide to accompany Earth, by Frank Press and Raymond Siever. H. Freeman, 170 pp.

Visit Roger Thomas on Research Gate.