Emily Rayfield

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Emily Rayfield
Born Northallerton
Residence England England
Nationality British United Kingdom
Fields Palaeontology
Institutions University of Bristol
Alma mater Cambridge University
Doctoral advisor David B. Norman
Doctoral students Stephanie Pierce, Sandra Jasinoski, Mark Young, Jen Bright
Notable awards Hodson Fund of the Palaeontological Association, Lyell Fund of the Geological Society of London

Emily Rayfield is a British palaeontologist, who is a Professor in Palaeobiology in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.[1]

Her research primarily focuses on the functional anatomy of extinct vertebrates, especially dinosaurs, using computational methods such as finite element analysis (FEA). In the landmark paper Rayfield et al. (2001),[2] the skull of the theropod dinosaur Allosaurus was analysed using FEA in order to quantitatively assess different feeding hyoptheses. This paper was the first use of FEA on a three-dimensional structure in palaeontology (in collaboration with CT scanning), and spurred the current trend of CT-scanned skull FEA on feeding biomechanics in zoology and palaeontology.[3]

In addition, she helped elucidate the cranial biomechanics of the noted carnivorous dinosaur Tyrannosaurus using two-dimensional FEA.[4] This study was expanded upon in a comparative finite element analysis of 2D theropod skulls (namely Allosaurus Coelophysis and Tyrannosaurus), in order to quantitately compare cranial biomechanics.[5]


  1. ^ Dr Emily Rayfield: Earth Sciences: University of Bristol
  2. ^ Rayfield, E. J., Norman, D. B., Horner, C. C., Horner, J. R., Smith, P. M., Thomason, J. J. and Upchurch, P. 2001. Cranial design and function in a large theropod dinosaur. Nature 409: 1033-1037.
  3. ^ Rayfield, E. J. 2007. Finite element analysis in vertebrate morphology. Annual Reviews in Earth and Planetary Sciences 35: 541–576.
  4. ^ Rayfield, E. J. 2004. Cranial mechanics and feeding in Tyrannosaurus rex. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 271: 1451-1459.
  5. ^ Rayfield, E. J. 2005. Aspects of comparative cranial mechanics in the theropod dinosaurs Coelophysis, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 144 (3): 309–316.