Department of Vertebrate Biology


Dr. Edward B. Daeschler
Associate Curator

Ted Daeschler started at the Academy of Natural Sciences in 1987 as a Collections Manager. After receiving his PhD from University of Pennsylvania in 1998 he joined the curator ranks. His research has focused on collecting and describing Late Devonian fossil vertebrates from Pennsylvania and the Canadian Arctic including numerous sarcopterygian fishes along the lineage leading to the earliest limbed animals. Ted has directed the re-housing of most of the vertebrate paleontology collection at the Academy with an eye toward the long-term conservation of this important historical and scientific resource.

Ted Daeschler is a Principle Investigator in the following research projects:

  • Nunavut Paleontological Expeditions
    Dr. Daeschler and Dr. Neil Shubin of the University of Chicago have led several expeditions in search of 370-million-year-old fish fossils in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. In 2006, Drs. Daeschler and Shubin, in collaboration with Dr. Farish A. Jenkins, Jr. of Harvard University, announced their discovery of Tiktaalik roseae, an animal with a suite of features transitional between the four-limbed tetrapods and their lobe-fin fish precursors. Visit the University of Chicago's website on Tiktaalik for more information.
  • Catskill Project
    The ongoing Catskill project has focused on the Late Devonian-age Catskill Formation in Pennsylvania. The work has provided a uniquely comprehensive glimpse of Late Devonian non-marine (freshwater) ecosystems. From the ancient stream deposits of the Catskill Formation we have discovered fossils of all major classes of vertebrate coexisting with fossil plants, plant spores, and invertebrates. We've discovered and described two new taxa of Late Devonian limbed vertebrates (tetrapods) from a single site (Red Hill), suggesting that primitive tetrapods were diverse and widely distributed in non-marine environments by the Famennian Stage (367-363MYA) of the Late Devonian. Research from the Catskill Project is presented at the Devonian Times web site.

Ned Gilmore
Collections Manager

Ned Gilmore started working for the Academy in 1991 and became collection manager for the department in 1999. He has worked on collection databaseing, curation and Type studies of several of the collections at the Academy. His interests are in the Late Cretaceous and Early Tertiary fossils of the eastern coastal plain of North America. Ned also participates in many outreach programs for Academy members and the local community.

Frederick Mullison
Fossil Preparator

Frederick Mullison started as a volunteer at the Academy in 1995 in the Vertebrate Paleontology Department. He has been working full time in the department as a Preparator since 1999. Originally, graduating college with a BFA in Fine Arts, Frederick worked for twenty years as a commercial photographer before changing careers to pursue what had always been his first interest: paleontology. "It's not unusual to find preparators with backgrounds in Fine Arts. In addition to having a love of learning, the most important skill for a good preparator is to first be a good craftsman and to enjoy working with both your hands and your brain."

Research Associates

Dr. Jason P. Downs
Research Associate

Jason Downs joined the vertebrate paleontology group at the Academy of Natural Sciences after receiving his Ph.D. from Yale University in 2006. He is a postdoctoral researcher with a specific interest in the use of microstructural data to address the early evolution of the vertebrate skeleton. Actively engaged in field work in Paleozoic rocks throughout North America, Jason is currently contributing to our understanding of the Academy's Late Devonian fossil collection.