Ryan Thomas Tucker

Ryan Tucker (on the right)

  1. PhD Student

    Earth and Environmental Sciences

    1. Bachelors of Science, Geology; The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, SD, USA

    2. Master’s of Science, Vertebrate Palaeontology; The South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, SD, USA


TG 161





rtucker76@gmail.com or ryan.tucker

PhD title:

Stratigraphy, Sedimentation and Taphonomy of the mid- Cretaceous (late Albian- Cenomanian) Winton Formation, Central Queensland, Australia


Dr. Eric Roberts (JCU), Dr. Paul Dirks (JCU), Dr Steve Salisbury (UQ), Dr. Scott Bryan (QUT)


The mid-Cretaceous (late Albian- Cenomanian; ~ 98-95 million years ago) Winton Formation is one of Australia’s most important sources of Mesozoic terrestrial fossils.In recent years it has produced some of the continent’s most significant dinosaurian and crocodilian fossils, and preserves the world’s only known dinosaur stampede trackway.It has also yielded fossils of lungfishes and primitive, ray-finned fishes, aquatic lizards, turtles, numerous invertebrates and a high diversity of plant macrofossils, including some of the earliest flowering plants from Australia.The Winton Formation is exposed over large parts of western Queensland (Figure A), in addition to northern NSW, north-western South Australia and the south-western corner of the Northern Territory.This area, equivalent in size to the entire United Kingdom, falls within the Eromanga Basin, an important component of the central Australian Great Artesian Basin. Despite its importance for our understanding of Australian terrestrial environments during the latter part of the Mesozoic, very little in the way of detailed geological work has been carried out on the Winton Formation.As a consequence, environmental and ecological conditions in which many of Australia’s dinosaur faunas existed are contextually poorly understood.This Ph.D. project will focus on the relationship between the local and regional geological setting at the Isisford and Bladensburg vertebrate fossil localities, combining both broad scale abiotic and biotic palaeoenvironmental data with fine-scale data on the relationship between fossil bioclasts and sedimentology.This work will be conducted in collaboration with ongoing paleontological investigations by Dr. Salisbury, with the goal of providing a detailed geological context, including palaeoenvironment and palaeoclimate reconstruction to the spectacular dinosaur and other vertebrate fossil discoveries that have occurred within the Cretaceous Winton Formation in the last few years.

Also contributing to other research groups, one led by Jason Testin (SDSM&T), focuses on reinterpreting our understanding of the function and morphology of theropod, dinosaur dentition.Dental morphology and its significance to theropod (Dinosauria: Saurischia) taxonomy are poorly understood.Dentition morphology is closely linked to feeding; changes in dental morphology could provide a basis for adaptations linked to utilization of new feeding niches.Due to this relationship, it is possible to rely on preservation of dentition in the fossil record to aid in the understanding of theropod evolution.


Peer Reviewed papers:

Tucker, R. T., Roberts, E. M., Hu, Y., Kemp, A. I., & Salisbury, S. W. (2013). Detrital zircon age constraints for the Winton Formation, Queensland: Contextualizing Australia's Late Cretaceous dinosaur faunas. Gondwana Research. IN PRESS

Romilio, A., Tucker, R.T., and Salisbury, S.W., 2013, Morphological reinterpretation of Skartopus Lark Quarry tracks, mid-Cretaceous (late Albian-Cenomanian) Winton Formation, central-western Queensland, Australia: Not theropodian tracks but the ichnotaxon Wintonopus. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33(1), 102-120

Tucker, R.T., 2011, Taphonomy of Sheridan College Quarry 1, Buffalo, Wyoming: implications for reconstructing historic dinosaur localities including Utterback’s 1902-1910 Morrison dinosaur expeditions: Geobios, 44, 527-541

Conference Preceding’s & Abstracts

Tucker, R.T., Roberts, E.M. and Salisbury, S.W. 2011. New information on the stratigraphy, depositional environment and taphonomy of the mid-Cretaceous Winton Formation, central-western Queensland, Australia; p. 84 in Trinajstic, K., Bunce, M., Warburton, N., Hadley, C., Baynes, A. and Siversson, M. (eds.), 13th Conference on Australasian Vertebrate Evolution, Palaeontology and Systematics (CAVEPS), 27–30 April 2011, Perth. Geological Survey of Western Australia, 2011/9.

Testin, J.J., Tucker, R.T., Miyashita, T., Holtz Jr. T.R., 2011. Dental morphology of allosaurus fragilis (dinosauria: theropoda) from the upper jurassic morrison formation of western north america: is dentition more indicative of taxonomy or feeding niche?. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology

Testin, Jason J., & Tucker, Ryan T., 2010, Survey of theropod (Dinosauria, Saurishia) dentition: morphology and function: 95th Annual Meeting of the South Dakota Academy of Sciences: Program and Abstracts, (abstract).

Tucker, R., 2009, Geology and paleontology of the Upper Jurassic Morrison and Lower Cretaceous Cloverly Formations along the eastern flank of The Bighorn Mountains, northeastern Wyoming: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, v. 29 (Supplement to number 3) 195A (abstract).

Ms Thesis:

Stratigraphy and Taphonomy of the Upper Jurassic Morrison and Lower Cretaceous Cloverly Formations along the Eastern Flank of the Bighorn Mountains, Northeastern Wyoming