Dr Sam Giles

Biological Sciences
Junior Research Fellow


MSCi Geology, D.Phil Palaeobiology

Academic Background

I carried out my undergraduate degree in Geology at the University of Bristol, graduating in 2011. I was most interested in palaeobiology and evolution, and worked on a number of research projects on this topic. I then came to Oxford to start my D.Phil, graduating in 2015. After graduation I worked as a Research Associate for a few months before starting as a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church. 

Undergraduate Teaching

I am an assistant lecturer in the Department of Earth Sciences on the first year Invertebrate Palaeontology course and the third year Vertebrate Palaeontology course. 

Research Interests 

I use fossil data to understand the evolution of modern groups of vertebrates. By using CT scanning, a method employing x-rays, I can ‘virtually’ dissect both fossil and extant taxa and gain insight into the evolution of key features of the vertebrate body plan. I have a particular interest in the brain and braincase of the earliest bony fishes. 

Publications include:

Sallan, L., Giles, S., Sansom, R. S., Clarke, J. T., Johanson, Z., Sansom, I. J., Janvier, P. The ‘Tully Monster’ is not a vertebrate: characters, convergence and taphonomy in Palaeozoic problematic animals. Palaeontology, 60:149–157.

Lu, J., Giles, S., Friedman, M., Den Blaauwen, J. L., Zhu, M. 2016. The oldest actinopterygian highlights the cryptic early history of the hyperdiverse ray-finned fishes. Current Biology, DOI

Giles, S., Rogers, M., Friedman, M. 2016. Bony labyrinth morphology in early neopterygian fishes (Actinopterygii: Neopterygii). Journal of Morphology, doi:10.1002/jmor.20551.

Giles, S., Darras, L., Clément, G., Blieck, A., Friedman, M. 2015. An exceptionally preserved Late Devonian actinopterygian provides a new model for primitive cranial anatomy in ray-finned fishes. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 282: 1816.

Giles, S., Coates, M. I., Garwood, R., Brazeau, M. D., Atwood, R., Friedman, M. 2015. Endoskeletal structure in Cheirolepis (Osteichthyes, Actinopterygii), an early ray-finned fish. Palaeontology, 58: 849–870.

Giles, S., Friedman, M., Brazeau, M. D. 2015. Osteichthyan-like cranial conditions in an Early Devonian stem gnathostome. Nature, 520: 82–85.

Giles, S., Friedman. M. 2014. Virtual reconstruction of endocast anatomy in early ray-finned fishes (Osteichthyes: Actinopterygii). Journal of Paleontology, 88: 636–651.

Parfitt, M., Johanson, Z., Giles, S., Friedman, F. 2014. A large, anatomically primitive tristichopterid (Sarcopterygii: Tetrapodomorpha) from the Late Devonian (Frasnian) Alves Beds, Upper Old Red Sandstone, Morayshire. Scottish Journal of Geology, 50:79–85.

Giles, S., Rücklin, M., Donoghue, P.C.J. 2013. Histology of ‘‘Placoderm’’ Dermal Skeletons: Implications for the Nature of the Ancestral Gnathostome. Journal of Morphology, 274: 627–644.

Rücklin, M., Giles, S., Janvier, P., Donoghue, P.C.J. 2011. Teeth before jaws? Comparative analysis of the structure and development of the external and internal scales in the extinct jawless vertebrate Loganellia scotica. Evolution and Development, 13: 523–532.