Welcome

Welcome to my personal website, I’m Alan Spencer and I’m Palaeobotanist working at Imperial College London. The main focus of my research is three-dimensional reconstruction of fossil plants, in particular their reproductive organs, with the aim of increasing our scientific understanding of plant evolution. This website features a collection of work that I’ve been associated with relevant information and links (e.g. to peer-reviewed papers). I hope to keep this as up to date as possible, so if you are interested in my work then please pop back every now and again and see what is new.


REvoSim v2.0.0 released

REvoSim is an evolutionary model that aims to bridge the epistemological gap between micro- and macroevolution by providing an organism-level simulation of sufficient computational efficiency that population sizes of 105-106 individuals can be studied over geological timescales. The model also incorporates concepts of spatial relationships, spatial and temporal environmental variation, and recombinant reproduction. Isolation of gene-pools […]


SPIERS v3.0.0-rc.2 released

SPIERS (Serial Palaeontological Image Editing and Rendering System) is a package of three programs for the reconstruction and analysis of tomographic (serial image) datasets, such as those obtained from serial-grinding of specimens, or from CT scanning. More details are available in the documentation for each program. Change log: The following has been changed since the […]


SPIERS v3.0.0-rc.1 released

SPIERS (Serial Palaeontological Image Editing and Rendering System) is a package of three programs for the reconstruction and analysis of tomographic (serial image) datasets, such as those obtained from serial-grinding of specimens, or from CT scanning. More details are available in the documentation for each program. Change log: The following has been changed since the […]


Exploring the potential of neutron imaging for life sciences on IMAT

Type: Peer Reviewed Research Paper Journal: Journal of Microscopy Year: October 15 2018 Authors: BURCA, G. , NAGELLA, S. , CLARK, T. , TASEV, D. , RAHMAN, I. , GARWOOD, R., SPENCER, A.R.T , TURNER, M. and KELLEHER, J. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jmi.12761 Abstract: Neutron imaging has been employed in life sciences in recent years and has […]


New insights into the evolutionary history of Fungi from a 407 million year old Blastocladiomycota-like fossil showing a complex hyphal thallus

Type: Peer Reviewed Research Paper Journal: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Science Year: December 18 2017. Volume published 5 February 2018. Authors: Christine Strullu-Derrien, Alan R. T. Spencer, Tomasz Goral, Jaclyn Dee, Rosmarie Honegger, Paul Kenrick, Joyce E. Longcore, Mary L. Berbee DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2016.0502 Abstract: Zoosporic fungi are key saprotrophs and parasites of […]


New insights into Mesozoic cycad evolution: an exploration of anatomically preserved Cycadaceae seeds from the Jurassic Oxford Clay biota

Type: Peer Reviewed Research Paper Journal: PeerJ Year: August 28 2017 Authors: Alan R.T. Spencer​, Russell J. Garwood, Andrew R. Rees, Robert J. Raine, Gar W. Rothwell, Neville T.J. Hollingworth, Jason Hilton DOI https://doi.org/10.7717/peerj.3723 Abstract: Most knowledge concerning Mesozoic Era floras has come from compression fossils. This has been augmented in the last 20 years […]


Anatomically preserved “strobili” and leaves from the Permian of China (Dorsalistachyaceae, fam. nov.) broaden knowledge of Noeggerathiales and constrain their possible taxonomic affinities

Type: Peer Reviewed Research Paper Journal: American Journal of Botany Year: January 6 2017 Authors: Wang S-J, Bateman RM, Spencer ART, Shao L, Wang J, Hilton J DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1600371 Abstract: PREMISE OF THE STUDY: Noeggerathiales are an extinct group of heterosporous shrubs and trees that were widespread and diverse during the Pennsylvanian–Permian Epochs (323–252 Ma) […]


Almost a spider: a 305-million-year-old fossil arachnid and spider origins

Type: Peer Reviewed Research Paper Journal: Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences Year: March 30 2016 Authors: Garwood RJ, Dunlop JA, Selden PA, Spencer ART, Atwood RC, Vo NT, Drakopoulous M DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2016.0125 Abstract: Spiders are an important animal group, with a long history. Details of their origins remain limited, with little […]


Middle Jurassic evidence for the origin of Cupressaceae: A paleobotanical context for the roles of regulatory genetics and development in the evolution of conifer seed cones

Type: Peer Reviewed Research Paper Journal: American Journal of Botany Year: June 1, 2015 Authors: Spencer ART, Mapes G, Bateman RM, Hilton J, Rothwell GW DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.3732/ajb.1500121 Abstract: Premise of the study: Triassic and Jurassic fossils record structural changes in conifer seed cones through time, provide the earliest evidence for crown-group conifer clades, and further clarify sister-group […]


X-ray Synchrotron Microtomography of a silicified Jurassic Cheirolepidiaceae (Conifer) cone: histology and morphology of Pararaucaria collinsonae sp. nov.

Type Presentation Event Linnean Society – Palaeobotany Specialist Group Authors Steart DC, Spencer ART,  Garwood RJ, Hilton J, Munt MC, Needham J, Kenrick P, Date November 12, 2014 Abstract The Cheirolepidiaceae are an extinct group of conifers with an extensive Mesozoic fossil record well-documented by foliage, wood, pollen and reproductive organs. Three-dimensionally preserved Cheirolepidiaceous ovuliferous cones […]