Sam Giles

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Sam Giles
Sam Giles.jpg
Alma materUniversity of Bristol (BSc)
University of Oxford (DPhil)
AwardsL'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science Awards (2017)
Scientific career
Virtual Palaeontology[1]
InstitutionsUniversity of Oxford
ThesisHow to build a bony vertebrate in evolutionary time (2015)
Doctoral advisorMatt Friedman[2]

Sam Giles is a palaeobiologist at the University of Birmingham.[1][3][4] Her research combines modern imaging with fossils to understand the evolution of life, in particular that of early fish, and in 2015 "rewrote" the vertebrate family tree.[5] She was a 2017 L'Oréal-UNESCO Rising Star and won the 2019 Geological Society of London Lyell Fund.

Early life and education[edit]

Giles studied geology at the University of Bristol, graduating in 2011.[6] Giles completed her doctor of philosophy at the University of Oxford in 2015,[2] where she was a member of St Hugh's College.[7] She worked with Matt Friedman on early ray-finned fishes.[8]

Career and research[edit]

In 2015, Giles was appointed a junior research fellow at Christ Church, Oxford. Giles was awarded a L'Oréal-UNESCO fellowship in 2016, which would allow her to study the anatomy of vertebrate's brains.[9][10] In 2017, Giles was awarded a Royal Society Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowship to study the evolution of the Actinopterygii, otherwise known as ray-finned fishes, which comprise more than half of all living vertebrates.[11][12] In 2018, she joined the School of Geography, Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Birmingham as a member of academic staff.[13]

Giles uses x-ray tomography to study the bone structure of Actinopterygii[1][13] and is one of the leading experts on the evolutionary relationships and adaptations of early fish. In particular, she has been involved in research related to the origin of gnathostomes, or jawed vertebrates, and the relationships of early fishes, including various extinct groups such as placoderms and the divergence of chondrichthyans (cartilaginous fish) and osteichthyans (bony fish).[14][15][16] She has also published on the early evolution of the dermal skeleton.[15][17][18] A foundational component of her work is the use of computed tomography (CT) scanning in order to study the internal anatomy of fossils[19][20][21][22] and to reconstruct the soft tissue structures that are not directly preserved.[23][24] Giles is also a major contributor to research relating to equitable practices in academia[25][26] and paleontology.[27] Giles' research has been published in leading scientific journals, including Nature,[14][16] eLife,[28] Current Biology,[29] and Proceedings of the Royal Society B[20] and has been covered by numerous media outlets.[5][30][31][32][33][34] She has contributed to naming numerous new species of extinct fish, outlined below:

Year Taxon Authors
2018 Pickeringius acanthophorus sp. nov. Choo, Lu, Giles, Trinajstic, & Long[35]
2018 Scopulipiscis saxciput gen. et sp. nov. Latimer & Giles[36]
2017 Ptctolepis brachynotus gen. et sp. nov. Lu, Giles, Friedman, & Zhu[37]
2015 Janusiscus schultzei gen. et sp. nov. Giles, Friedman, & Brazeau[14]
2015 Raynerius splendens gen. et sp. nov. Giles, Darras, Clément, Blieck, & Friedman[38]

She has written for the HuffPost and given several popular science lectures.[39][40] In 2019 Giles was awarded the Geological Society of London Lyell Fund, which is awarded to researchers on the basis of outstanding published research.[41][42] She serves on the council of the Palaeontological Association[43] and the Palaeontographical Society.[44]


  1. ^ a b c Sam Giles publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b Giles, Sam (2015). How to build a bony vertebrate in evolutionary time. (DPhil thesis). University of Oxford. OCLC 946068637. EThOS
  3. ^ Sam Giles on Twitter Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ Sam Giles publications from Europe PubMed Central
  5. ^ a b Callier, Viviane (2015-01-12). "Ancient fossil may rewrite fish family tree". Science | AAAS. Retrieved 2021-01-02.
  6. ^ "Dr Sam Giles | Christ Church, Oxford University". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  7. ^ "Dr Sam Giles wins L'Oréal-UNESCO for Women in Science Fellowship | St Hugh's College, Oxford". St Hugh's College, Oxford. 2016-11-02. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  8. ^ Giles, Sam; Friedman, Matt (2014). "Virtual reconstruction of endocast anatomy in early ray-finned fishes (Osteichthyes, Actinopterygii)". Journal of Paleontology. 88 (4): 636–651. doi:10.1666/13-094. ISSN 0022-3360. S2CID 85928959.
  9. ^ "Dr Sam Giles Awarded 2017 L'Oreal-UNESCO International Rising Talent Fellowship | Christ Church, Oxford University". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  10. ^ "Two Oxford scientists selected for 'Women in Science' Fellowships | University of Oxford". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  11. ^ "Sam Giles". London: Royal Society. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  12. ^ "Royal Society announces Dorothy Hodgkin Fellows for 2017 | Royal Society". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  13. ^ a b "Sam Giles". University of Birmingham. Retrieved 2021-01-02.
  14. ^ a b c Giles, Sam; Friedman, Matt; Brazeau, Martin D. (2015). "Osteichthyan-like cranial conditions in an Early Devonian stem gnathostome". Nature. 520 (7545): 82–85. Bibcode:2015Natur.520...82G. doi:10.1038/nature14065. ISSN 0028-0836. PMC 5536226. PMID 25581798.
  15. ^ a b Giles, Sam; Rücklin, Martin; Donoghue, Philip C.J. (2013-02-02). "Histology of "placoderm" dermal skeletons: Implications for the nature of the ancestral gnathostome". Journal of Morphology. 274 (6): 627–644. doi:10.1002/jmor.20119. ISSN 0362-2525. PMC 5176033. PMID 23378262.
  16. ^ a b Giles, Sam; Xu, Guang-Hui; Near, Thomas J.; Friedman, Matt (2017). "Early members of 'living fossil' lineage imply later origin of modern ray-finned fishes" (PDF). Nature. 549 (7671): 265–268. Bibcode:2017Natur.549..265G. doi:10.1038/nature23654. ISSN 0028-0836. PMID 28854173. S2CID 205259531.
  17. ^ Rücklin, Martin; Giles, Sam; Janvier, Philippe; Donoghue, Philip C. J. (2011-11-01). "Teeth before jaws? Comparative analysis of the structure and development of the external and internal scales in the extinct jawless vertebrate Loganellia scotica". Evolution & Development. 13 (6): 523–532. doi:10.1111/j.1525-142x.2011.00508.x. ISSN 1520-541X. PMID 23016936. S2CID 44472846.
  18. ^ Brazeau, Martin D.; Giles, Sam; Dearden, Richard P.; Jerve, Anna; Ariunchimeg, Ya.; Zorig, E.; Sansom, Robert; Guillerme, Thomas; Castiello, Marco (2020-09-07). "Endochondral bone in an Early Devonian 'placoderm' from Mongolia". Nature Ecology & Evolution. 4 (11): 1477–1484. doi:10.1038/s41559-020-01290-2. ISSN 2397-334X. PMID 32895518.
  19. ^ Giles, Sam; Coates, Michael I.; Garwood, Russell J.; Brazeau, Martin D.; Atwood, Robert; Johanson, Zerina; Friedman, Matt (2015). "Endoskeletal structure inCheirolepis(Osteichthyes, Actinopterygii), An early ray-finned fish". Palaeontology. 58 (5): 849–870. doi:10.1111/pala.12182. ISSN 0031-0239. PMC 4950109. PMID 27478252.
  20. ^ a b Giles, Sam; Darras, Laurent; Clément, Gaël; Blieck, Alain; Friedman, Matt (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): 20151485. doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.1485. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 4614771. PMID 26423841.
  21. ^ Argyriou, Thodoris; Giles, Sam; Friedman, Matt; Romano, Carlo; Kogan, Ilja; Sánchez-Villagra, Marcelo R. (2018-11-01). "Internal cranial anatomy of Early Triassic species of †Saurichthys (Actinopterygii: †Saurichthyiformes): implications for the phylogenetic placement of †saurichthyiforms". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 18 (1): 161. doi:10.1186/s12862-018-1264-4. ISSN 1471-2148. PMC 6211452. PMID 30382811.
  22. ^ Dobson, Claire; Giles, Sam; Johanson, Zerina; Liston, Jeff; Friedman, Matt (2019-09-03). "Cranial osteology of the Middle Jurassic (Callovian) Martillichthys renwickae (Neopterygii, Pachycormiformes) with comments on the evolution and ecology of edentulous pachycormiforms". Papers in Palaeontology. 7: 111–136. doi:10.1002/spp2.1276. ISSN 2056-2802.
  23. ^ Giles, Sam; Rogers, Molly; Friedman, Matt (2016-05-10). "Bony labyrinth morphology in early neopterygian fishes (Actinopterygii: Neopterygii)". Journal of Morphology. 279 (4): 426–440. doi:10.1002/jmor.20551. ISSN 0362-2525. PMID 27165962. S2CID 3867139.
  24. ^ Giles, Sam; Friedman, Matt (2014-07-15). "Virtual reconstruction of endocast anatomy in early ray-finned fishes (Osteichthyes, Actinopterygii)". Journal of Paleontology. 88 (4): 636–651. doi:10.1666/13-094. ISSN 0022-3360. S2CID 85928959.
  25. ^ Giles, Sam; Jackson, Chris; Stephen, Natasha (2020-01-21). "Barriers to fieldwork in undergraduate geoscience degrees". Nature Reviews Earth & Environment. 1 (2): 77–78. Bibcode:2020NRvEE...1...77G. doi:10.1038/s43017-020-0022-5. ISSN 2662-138X.
  26. ^ Giles, Sam; Greene, Sarah; Ashey, Kate; Dunne, Emma; Edgar, Kirsty; Hanson, Emma (2020-05-01). "Getting the basics right: a field-teaching primer on toilet stops in the field". 22nd EGU General Assembly: 11723. Bibcode:2020EGUGA..2211723G.
  27. ^ Giles, Sam; Warnock, Rachel; Dunne, Emma; Saupe, Erin; Soul, Laura; Lloyd, Graeme (2020-05-01). "Are we reaching gender parity among Palaeontology authors?". 22nd EGU General Assembly: 11767. Bibcode:2020EGUGA..2211767G.
  28. ^ Clement, Alice M; King, Benedict; Giles, Sam; Choo, Brian; Ahlberg, Per E; Young, Gavin C; Long, John A (2018). "Neurocranial anatomy of an enigmatic Early Devonian fish sheds light on early osteichthyan evolution". eLife. 7. doi:10.7554/eLife.34349. ISSN 2050-084X. PMC 5973833. PMID 29807569.
  29. ^ Lu, Jing; Giles, Sam; Friedman, Matt; den Blaauwen, Jan L.; Zhu, Min (2016). "The Oldest Actinopterygian Highlights the Cryptic Early History of the Hyperdiverse Ray-Finned Fishes". Current Biology. 26 (12): 1602–1608. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2016.04.045. ISSN 0960-9822. PMID 27212403.
  30. ^ "Ancient 420-million-year-old fossil hints of bony fish and cartilaginous fish common ancestor". ZME Science. 2015-01-13. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  31. ^ "Two-faced fish clue that our ancestors 'weren't shark-like'". ScienceDaily. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  32. ^ "Fossil fish reveals sharks lost bony armour early in their evolution | Imperial News | Imperial College London". Imperial News. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  33. ^ "Ancient fish skulls shake up the vertebrate evolutionary tree". Ars Technica. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  34. ^ "Shaking up the fish family tree: 'Living fossil' not as old as we thought". University of Michigan News. 2017-08-30. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  35. ^ Choo, Brian; Lu, Jing; Giles, Sam; Trinajstic, Kate; Long, John A. (2018-12-16). Smith, Andrew (ed.). "A new actinopterygian from the Late Devonian Gogo Formation, Western Australia". Papers in Palaeontology. 5 (2): 343–363. doi:10.1002/spp2.1243. ISSN 2056-2802.
  36. ^ Latimer, Ashley E.; Giles, Sam (2018-08-15). "A giant dapediid from the Late Triassic of Switzerland and insights into neopterygian phylogeny". Royal Society Open Science. 5 (8): 180497. Bibcode:2018RSOS....580497L. doi:10.1098/rsos.180497. ISSN 2054-5703. PMC 6124034. PMID 30225040.
  37. ^ Lu, Jing; Giles, Sam; Friedman, Matt; Zhu, Min (2017-12-05). "A new stem sarcopterygian illuminates patterns of character evolution in early bony fishes". Nature Communications. 8 (1): 1932. Bibcode:2017NatCo...8.1932L. doi:10.1038/s41467-017-01801-z. ISSN 2041-1723. PMID 29203766.
  38. ^ Giles, Sam; Darras, Laurent; Clément, Gaël; Blieck, Alain; Friedman, Matt (2015-10-07). "An exceptionally preserved Late Devonian actinopterygian provides a new model for primitive cranial anatomy in ray-finned fishes". Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 282 (1816): 20151485. doi:10.1098/rspb.2015.1485. ISSN 0962-8452. PMC 4614771. PMID 26423841.
  39. ^ "Dr Sam Giles". HuffPost UK. Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  40. ^ "Fossil Fish". Retrieved 2018-09-29.
  41. ^ "The Geological Society of London - Geological Society Awards 2019". Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  42. ^ "The Geological Society of London - The Wollaston, Lyell, Murchison and William Smith Funds". Retrieved 2019-03-04.
  43. ^ "Council (2020) | The Palaeontological Association". Retrieved 2021-01-02.
  44. ^ "The Palaeontographical Society - Council 2019-2020". Retrieved 2021-01-02.