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Selina Cole

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Selina R. “Lena” Cole

Brett Carpenter

Assistant Professor of Geosciences
Assistant Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology, Sam Noble Museum

Ph.D., 2017, The Ohio State University
B.S., 2012, James Madison University
A.A., 2009, Danville Community College

Office: SEC 822

Selina Cole's CV

Faculty Page

Areas of Interest

Paleontology, community paleoecology, functional morphology, extinction, phylogenetic comparative methods, carbonate sedimentology


As an invertebrate paleontologist, my research program primarily focuses on evolutionary paleoecology, emphasizing the role of ecology as an evolutionary driver in marine systems through deep time. Broadly, my research falls into two overlapping and complementary areas:

1. Extinction, including extinction risk, recovery, and evolutionary consequences of mass extinctions.
2. Community paleoecology, including the assembly and phylogenetic structure of paleocommunities, changes in niche space occupation through time, and ecological restructuring following environmental perturbations.

Although my research uses diverse groups of fossil marine invertebrates, my taxonomic expertise is on fossil crinoids (the feather stars and sea lilies, relatives of sea urchins and starfish) and I most frequently use their exceptional fossil record for addressing evolutionary and paleoecological questions. Crinoid systematics and morphology constitutes a major component of my research, including phylogeny reconstruction, systematic revision, descriptions of new taxa, and study of crinoid functional ecology. Another area of research focuses on the role of crinoids in carbonate sedimentology, especially encrinites, which are units formed almost entirely of crinoid fragments.

Much of my current and ongoing research focuses on the Ordovician to better understand (1) the evolution of crinoid paleocommunities during the lower Paleozoic, and (2) extinction selectivity and long-term consequences of the Late Ordovician mass extinction. This work involves extensive study of specimens in museum collections, phylogeny reconstruction, implementation of quantitative and phylogenetic comparative approaches, and fieldwork on Anticosti Island in Quebec, Canada.

Courses Taught

Fundamentals of Invertebrate Paleontology

Selected Publications

Cole, S.R. 2022. Early echinoderms decouple form and function. Nature Ecology & Evolution, v. 6, p. 247-248.

Cole, S.R., and D.F. Wright. 2022. Niche evolution and phylogenetic community paleoecology of Late Ordovician crinoids. Elements of Paleontology.

Fawcett, S., D. Agosti, S.R. Cole, and D.F. Wright. 2022. Digital accessible knowledge: mobilizing legacy data and the future of taxonomic publishing. Bulletin of the Society of Systematic Biologists.

Cole, S.R., and M. J. Hopkins. 2021. Selectivity and the effect of mass extinctions on disparity and functional ecology. Science Advances, v. 7, eabf4072.

Cole, S.R., D.F. Wright, W.I. Ausich, and J.M. Koniecki. 2020. Paleocommunity composition, relative abundance, and new camerate crinoids from the Brechin Lagerstätte (Upper Ordovician). Journal of Paleontology, v. 94, p. 1103-1123.

Zamora, S., D.F. Wright, R. Mooi, B. Lefebvre, T.E. Guensburg, P. Gorzelak, B. David, C.D. Sumrall, S.R. Cole, A. Hunter, J. Sprinkle, J.R. Thompson, T. Ewin, O. Fatka, E. Nardin, M. Reich, M. Nohejlová, and I.A. Rahman. 2020. Re-evaluating the phylogenetic position of the enigmatic early Cambrian deuterostome Yanjiahella. Nature Communications, v. 10, no. 1366.

Cole, S.R. 2019. Hierarchical controls on extinction selectivity across the diplobathrid crinoid phylogeny. Paleobiology.

Cole, S.R., D.F. Wright, and W.I. Ausich. 2019. Phylogenetic community paleoecology of one of the earliest complex crinoid faunas (Brechin Lagerstätte, Ordovician). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, v. 521, p. 82-98.

Cole, S.R. 2018. Phylogeny and evolutionary history of diplobathrid crinoids (Echinodermata). Palaeontology, v. 91, p. 815-828.

Cole, S.R, W.I. Ausich, D.F. Wright, and J. Koniecki. 2018. An echinoderm Lagerstätte from the Upper Ordovician (Katian), Ontario: taxonomic re-evaluation and description of new dicyclic camerate crinoids. Journal of Paleontology, v. 92, p. 488-505.

Cole, S.R. 2017. Phylogeny and morphologic evolution of the Ordovician Camerata (Class Crinoidea, Phylum Echinodermata). Journal of Paleontology, v. 91, p. 815–828.

Cole, S.R., W.I. Ausich, S. Zamora, and J. Colmenar. 2017. Filling the Gondwanan gap: paleobiogeographic implications of new crinoids from the Castillejo and Fombuena formations (Middle and Upper Ordovician, Iberian Chains, Spain). Journal of Paleontology, v. 91, p. 715–734.

Wright, D.F., W.I. Ausich, S.R. Cole, T.W. Kammer, M.E. Peter, and E.C. Rhenberg. 2017. Phylogenetic taxonomy and classification of the Crinoidea (Phylum Echinodermata). Journal of Paleontology, v. 91, p. 829‒846.