The Stocker Lab group focuses on a wide variety of both extant and extinct animals. Major themes include testing ecomorphological hypotheses and instances of convergent evolution.
Phytosaurs are a clade of semi-aquatic reptiles that look superficially like crocodylians and would have been some of the dominant predators in the Late Triassic. They currently are known only from Late Triassic fossils, but they have a hypothesized ghost lineage extending from the Early Triassic. They had a nearly worldwide distribution, and therefore they have been utilized for over 100 years for biostratigraphic and biochronologic correlations.
Paleobiology and Evolution of Phytosaurs and other Triassic Archosauromorphs
Evolution of Paleogene Reptiles
Squamates (lizards, snakes, and amphisbaenians) and crocodylians are well-known from the Western Interior during the Eocene, but until recently southern records were unclear. I work to uncover the poorly-known reptile components of the Eocene faunas of West Texas and understand their connections to taxa from Wyoming and Utah with respect to the climatic upheaval and associated faunal changes that occurred early in the Cenozoic.
Evolution and Biogeographic History of Amphisbaenians and Fossorial Vertebrates
Fossoriality, or a burrowing lifestyle, evolved multiple times among vertebrates and appears to be associated with certain morphological adaptations. I focus specifically on the evolution of amphisbaenians, a group of limbless squamates, that are known today from a world-wide distribution and have a North American fossil record back at least to the Paleocene. I specifically am interested in the evolution and biogeographic history of rhineurid amphisbaenians, a clade which contains one living member, the Florida worm lizard.