Department: Comparative Biomedical Sciences

Campus: Hawkshead

Research Groups: Musculoskeletal Biology

Research Centres: Structure & Motion Laboratory

Peter is a Marie Curie International Outgoing Research Fellow, based at both the RVC and Brown University, USA. His research is primarily focused on foot-sediment interactions in the context of understanding dinosaur limb kinematics through computer simulation of footprint formation. Additional research interests include computational techniques in palaeontology and 3D data acquisition.

Dr Falkingham holds a BSc (hons) in Biology and Geology (2003) and an MSc in Computer Science (2004), both from the University of Bristol, UK.

His PhD (full NERC studentship) was carried out at the University of Manchester on Computer Simulation of Dinosaur Tracks, aiding in development of the finite element analysis software ParaFEM to simulate the indentation of dinosaur feet into cohesive substrates

In 2012 Dr Falkingham was awarded a Marie Curie International Outgoing Research Fellowship, in order to study theropod locomotor evolution, as expressed in fossil tracks. This three year fellowship involves two years at Brown University, USA, before returning to the RVC in 2014.

Peter is a member of the Palaeontological Association, the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, and the Ichnological Association.  

Peter is an active member of the Ask A Biologist website, and is an Editor for the Palaeontological Association funded outreach site Palaeontology[Online].

Peter's primary research focus is on dinosaur tracks, specifically how the foot and sediment interact, and how we can subsequently reverse-engineer their formation in order to constrain and understand the limb motion of these extinct animals.

While a skeleton is a record of an animal's anatomy, a track is formed in vivo, recording the animal during life. As such, fossil tracks and trackways provide additional, complimentary data to the body fossil record.  By understanding the motion of substrate around a dynamically moving foot, it is possible to use tracks to constrain possible motions of the distal (and therefore proximal) limb. Peter's work incorporates digitisation of fossil tracks and computer simulation. In addition, his work incorporates data from extant taxa using XROMM techniques to study the motion of the foot during locomotion over deep, soft substrates.

In additional to his work on footprints, Peter is also involved in other research areas including dinosaur biomechanics and taxonomy, development of digitsation techniques and applications, cambrian echinoderm hydrodynamics, and materials science, collaborating with scientists from the UK, USA, across Europe, Australia, and South America.

Dr Falkingham's 10 most recent peer reviewed academic publications are listed below.  For a complete list, including PDFs and conference proceedings, see either his or Mendeley pages.

  • Falkingham PL (2014) Interpreting ecology and behaviour from the vertebrate fossil track record. Journal of Zoology: 222-228.
  • Falkingham PL, Bates KT, Farlow JO (2014) Historical Photogrammetry: Bird's Paluxy River Dinosaur Chase Sequence Digitally Reconstructed as It Was prior to Excavation 70 Years Ago. PLoS ONE 9: e93247.
  • Razzolini NL, Vila B, Castanera D, Falkingham PL, Barco JL, et al. (2014) Intra-Trackway Morphological Variations Due to Substrate Consistency: The El Frontal Dinosaur Tracksite (Lower Cretaceous, Spain). PLoS ONE 9: e93708.
  • Bennett MR, Morse SA, Falkingham PL (2014) Tracks made by swimming Hippopotami: An example from Koobi Fora (Turkana Basin, Kenya). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 409: 9-23.
  • White MA, Falkingham PL, Cook AG, Hocknull SA, Elliott DA (2013) Morphological comparisons of metacarpal I forAustralovenator wintonensisandRapator ornitholestoides: implications for their taxonomic relationships. Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology: 1-7.
  • Maidment SCR, Bates KT, Falkingham PL, VanBuren C, Arbour V, et al. (2013) Locomotion in ornithischian dinosaurs: an assessment using three-dimensional computational modelling. Biological Reviews: n/a-n/a.
  • Falkingham PL (2013) Low cost 3D scanning using off-the-shelf video gaming peripherals. Journal of Paleontological Techniques 11: 1-9.
  • Castanera D, Vila B, Razzolini NL, Falkingham PL, Canudo JI, et al. (2013) Manus Track Preservation Bias as a Key Factor for Assessing Trackmaker Identity and Quadrupedalism in Basal Ornithopods. PLoS ONE 8: e54177.
  • Bennett MR, Falkingham PL, Morse SA, Bates K, Crompton RH (2013) Preserving the Impossible: Conservation of Soft-Sediment Hominin Footprint Sites and Strategies for Three-Dimensional Digital Data Capture. PLoS ONE 8: e60755.
  • Bates KT, Savage R, Pataky TC, Morse SA, Webster E, et al. (2013) Does footprint depth correlate with foot motion and pressure? Journal of the Royal Society: Interface 10: 20130009.


Peter is active in his outreach activities, and frequently gives talks at museums and local schools to audiences of all ages. He is an active member of the website Ask A Biologist, and an Editor of Palaeontology[Online]. He has appeared in BBC and National Geographic documentaries about dinosaur tracks.

Several of his scientific articles have been reported in the popular media, including both local and national BBC, online, in print, and on radio and television.

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