Richard L. Cifelli
Presidential Professor of Biology
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology

Phone: (405)325-4712
Fax: (405)325-6202


Current Research Interests and Subject Areas Available for Graduate Research

I am primarily a vertebrate paleontologist. My main research interest is in the evolution of mammals, with particular emphasis on systematics and functional morphology. In recent years, I have focused attention mainly on early mammals (with most emphasis placed on Cretaceous varieties from North America). To this end, I have maintained an active collecting program, and conduct mainly specimen-based research, in which both undergraduate and graduate students routinely participate. That same collecting program has yielded many fossils of other vertebrate groups; graduate students often work on these “other” groups, particularly dinosaurs, though there are opportunities for graduate research on Cenozoic or living mammals, as well as other taxa well represented in the museum collection, not to mention other aspects of vertebrate paleobiology. In addition to supporting faculty in the Department of Biology, museum staff (Dr. Nicholas Czaplewski, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology) and faculty from the School of Geology & Geophysics (Dr. Steven Westrop, Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology; Dr. Richard Lupia, Curator of Paleobotany) often serve as committee members for graduate students specializing in vertebrate paleontology.

Ph.D., Columbia University

M.Phil., Columbia University

A.M., University of Chicago

A.B., Colby College





Back to Biology Faculty

Selected Publications:

  • Cifelli, R.L., Davis, B.M., and Sames, B. In press. Earliest Cretaceous mammals from the western United States. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica.

  • Davis, B.M. and Cifelli, R.L. 2011. Reappraisal of the tribosphenidan mammals from the Trinity Group (Aptian-Albian) of Texas and Oklahoma. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 56: 441-462.

  • Cifelli, R.L. and Gordon, C.L. 2007. Re-crowning mammals. Nature 447: 918-920.

  • Kielan-Jaworowska, Z., Cifelli, R.L., and Luo, Z.-X. 2004. Mammals from the Age of Dinosaurs: Origins, Evolution and Structure. 630 pp. Columbia University Press, New York.

  • Cifelli, R.L., Eberle, J.J., Lofgren, D.L., Lillegraven, J.A., and Clemens, W.A. 2004. Mammalian biochronology of the latest Cretaceous in North America. In: M.O. Woodburne (ed.), Late Cretaceous and Cenozoic Mammals of North America: Geochronology and Biostratigraphy, 21-42. University of California Press, Berkeley.

  • Cifelli, R.L. and Davis, B.M. 2003. Marsupial origins. Science 302: 1899-1900.

  • Luo, Z.-X., Kielan-Jaworowska, Z., and Cifelli, R.L. 2002. In quest for a phylogeny of Mesozoic mammals. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 47 (1): 1-78.

  • Cifelli, R.L. 2001. Early mammalian radiations. Journal of Paleontology 75 (6): 1214-1226.

  • Cifelli, R.L. and Madsen, S.K. 1999. Spalacotheriid symmetrodonts (Mammalia) from the medial Cretaceous (upper Albian or lower Cenomanian) Mussentuchit local fauna, Cedar Mountain Formation, Utah, USA. Geodiversitas 21: 167-214.

  • Cifelli, R.L., Rowe, T.B., Luckett, W.P., Banta, J., Reyes, R., and Howes, R.I. 1996. Fossil evidence for the origin of the marsupial pattern of tooth replacement. Nature 379: 715-718.




OU Home

College of Arts and Sciences

Email Webmaster