Professor Jason Head

  • College positions:
    College Lecturer in Biological Sciences
  • University positions:
    Professor of Vertebrate Evolution and Ecology, Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology, Department of Zoology
  • Subjects:


BSc Biology (The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor); MSc Geology (Southern Methodist University, Dallas); PhD Geology (Southern Methodist University, Dallas)

Research interests

My research uses the vertebrate fossil record to examine both the relationship between tropical fauna and environment over the last 66 million years and the evolution of new body forms. I combine anatomical data from museum collections with field research in eastern Africa, South America, and South Asia to examine how equatorial vertebrate communities have responded to climate change in the deep-time past and how novel anatomies, such as the regionalised vertebral column of tetrapods and the specialised body form of snakes, have evolved.

Teaching Interests

I teach Animal Diversity in the 1A Ecology and Behaviour course, I moderate and teach in Part II ZM1 Vertebrate Evolution in the Department of Zoology, and lecture on conservation palaeobiology in Part II ZL4 Applied Conservation in the Department of Zoology.


Parker, A. K., J. Müller, J.-R. Boisserie, and J. J. Head. In Press. The utility of body size as a functional trait to link the past and present in a diverse reptile clade. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 

Head, J. J., A. F. C. Howard, and J. Müller. 2022. The first 80 million years of snake evolution: The Mesozoic fossil record of snakes and its implications for origin hypotheses, biogeography, and mass extinction. In D. Gower & H. Zaher (eds.). The Origin and Early Evolutionary History of Snakes. Cambridge University Press.

Jameson, T. J. M., J. W. Streicher, L. Manuelli, J. J. Head, and E. N. Smith. 2022. Miniaturization in direct-developing frogs from Mexico with the description of six new species. Herpetological Monographs, 36(1):1-48.

Criswell, K.E., L. E. Roberts, E. T. Koo, J. J. Head, and J. A. Gillis. 2021. hox gene expression predicts tetrapod-like axial regionalization in the skate, Leucoraja erinacea. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A. 118(51). 

Head, J. J., and P. D. Polly. 2015. Evolution of the snake body form reveals homoplasy in amniote Hox gene function. Nature, 520:86-89. doi: 10.1038/nature14042.

Other interests

History, industrial music, wine.