Crispin Little

Crispin Little



I joined the University of Leeds in 2000 after post-doc postions at UCLA and the NHM, London, a PhD in palaeontogy at Bristol and a Combined Honours Biology and Geology BSc at Aston.


  • 2022-present. Professor of Palaeontology.
  • 2018-2023. Head, Palaeo@Leeds Research Group.
  • 2007-2022. Senior Lecturer, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds.
  • 2011-2014. Director of Earth Surface Science Institute (ESSI).
  • 2007-2009. Fellow of the Hanse Institute for Advanced Study, University of Bremen.
  • 2000-2007. Lecturer, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds.
  • 1999-2000. Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, University of California, Los Angeles.
  • 1995-1999. Post-Doctoral Research Assistant, Palaeontology and Mineralogy Departments, The Natural History Museum, London.
  • 1991-1995. PhD, Geology Department, University of Bristol. PhD title: The Pliensbachian-Toarcian (Lower Jurassic) Extinction Event.
  • 1990-1991. Postgraduate Research Assistant, Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology (DICE), University of Kent at Canterbury.
  • 1987-1990. BSc, University of Aston. Combined Honours in Biology and Geology.

Service to academic community

  • 2022-present. Council member, Malacological Society of London.
  • 2021-present. School of Earth and Environment Representative, Leeds Geologists Association.
  • 2016-2021. Secretary, Palaeontological Association.
  • 2013-2016. Palaeontological Association Ordinary Council Member.
  • 2015-2018. External examiner for MSc Oceanography and MRes Marine Geology and Geophysics, School of Ocean and Earth Science, University of Southampton.
  • 2011-2014. External examiner for Joint Honours degrees and Geology mapping projects, School of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol.

PhD students

  • 2023-present. Lauren Geiser. Project title: Exploring the growth of deep-sea bivalves in areas of potential seafloor mining. Co-supervised with Professor Clare Woulds (Leeds) and Adrian Glover (Natural History Museum London).

  • 2022-present. Meghan Jenkinson. Project title: Regional investigation of extinction-recovery paterns during the Toarcian (Lower Jurassic) hyperthermal event. Co-supervised with Alex Dunhill (Leeds), Andrew Newell (British Geological Survey), Kevin Page (Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter) and Matt Williams (Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution).

  • 2018-2023. Connor O'Keeffe. Project title: Oceanic anoxic event conundrums: reconciling palaeontology and geochemistry. Co-supervised with Simon Poulton, Christian März and Fiona Gill, Leeds.

  • 2014-2018. Autumn Pugh. Project title: The early Toarcian (Early Jurassic) mass extinction event and recovery in the Eastern Tethys: integrating palaeontological and geochemical data from Bulgaria. CASE award with the British Geological Survey, co-supervised with Ivan Savov, Paul Wignall and Robert Newton, Leeds, and James Riding, BGS. Currently Project Research Officer, Government Office for Science.
  • 2012-2016. Magdalena Georgieva. Project title: Investigating the morphology, ultrastructure and palaeontology of polychaete worm tubes from modern and ancient deep sea chemosynthetic environments. CASE award with The Natural History Museum, London, co-supervised with Adrian Glover, Department of Zoology, NHM. Currently Post-Doctoral Researcher, The Natural History Museum, London.
  • 2008-2011. Nick Higgs. Project title: The taphonomy of giants: whale-falls, bone-eating worms and stepping-stones in the deep. CASE award with The Natural History Museum, London, co-supervised with Adrian Glover, Department of Zoology, NHM. Currently Assistant Director of the Cape Eleuthera Institute, Bahamas.
  • 2006-2009. Luciana Genio. Project title: Evolutionary history and systematics of molluscs at deep-sea chemosynthetic sites based on shell microstructure. Currently Environmental Analyst, International Seabed Authority. 
  • 2001-2005. Fiona Gill. Project title: Evolutionary, palaeobiogeographic and palaeoecological patterns in post Mesozoic cold seep communities. Currently Associate Professor in Palaeontology and Geochemistry, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds.

Co-supervised and based elsewhere

  • 2023-present. Euan Malpas Vernon.
  • 2019-present. Ailsa Roper. Project title: Nutrient cycling and oxygenation of shallow seas during the Triassic-Jurassic mass extinction and the early Jurassic. Co-supervised with Rob Newton, Simon Poulton and Paul Wignall, Leeds.
  • 2012-2016. Edine Pape. Co-supervised with Fiona Gill and Robert Newton, Leeds. Project title: Biogeochemical evidence for chemosymbiosis at fossil cold seeps.
  • 2009-2014. Krzysztof Hryniewicz. Co-supervised with Hans Arne Nakrem and Oyvind Hammer, Natural History Museum, University of Oslo. Project title: Upper Jurassic fossil cold seeps of Central Spitsbergen; microfacies analysis, petrology, paleontology and depositional environment. Currently staff member, Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences.
  • 2007-2010. Kristian Saether. Co-supervised with Kathleen Campbell, School of Geography, Geology, and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science, University of Auckland. Project title: Miocene cold seep faunas from New Zealand: taxonomy and palaeobiogeography.
  • 1999-2002. Ellis Maginn. Co-supervised with Rachel Mills (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton). Project title: Biomineralisation and geochemistry of hydrothermal vent fauna.

Research interests

I am a palaeontologist with research interests in macroevolutionary questions relating to chemosynthetic communities (hydrothermal vents, hydrocarbon seeps and whale-falls) across four billion years from the recent to the Archaean, and mass extinction events (principally the early Toarcian event in the Lower Jurassic). My main areas of expertise are in palaeoecological and palaeoenvironmental analysis, the latter by integration of palaeobiological, geochemical and sedimentological data, and I also work on fossil systematics, having described a fair few new mollusc and other animal species over the years. My publication list gives an overview of the breadth of my interests and that of my research group.

<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>


  • PhD The Pliensbachian-Toarcian (Lower Jurassic) Extinction Event
  • BSc Combined Honours Combined Honours in Biology and Geology

Professional memberships

  • Palaeontological Association
  • Malacological Society of London
  • Leeds Geologists Association

Student education

I teach palaeontology in the School, both invertebrate and vertebrate. I lead and teach on undergraduate fieldtrips and supervise mapping projects. I take personal and academic tutorials.

Research groups and institutes

  • Earth Surface Science Institute
  • Palaeo@Leeds
  • Planetary Exploration

Current postgraduate researchers

<h4>Postgraduate research opportunities</h4> <p>We welcome enquiries from motivated and qualified applicants from all around the world who are interested in PhD study. Our <a href="">research opportunities</a> allow you to search for projects and scholarships.</p>