Dr Marissa Betts

Postdoctoral Research Fellow - School of Environmental and Rural Science

Marissa Betts


Palaeontology is an inherently interdisciplinary science, straddling both biology and geology. Studying fossils and rocks is exciting because they can give you a glimpse into the past, and show us what the Earth was like a long time ago. The fossil record is patchy, which means that every piece of the puzzle we can get is vital for reconstructing past life in as much detail as possible.

The Cambrian Explosion is the most significant animal radiation event ever to have occurred on Earth. This bioevent is captured in astonishing clarity in East Gondwana, now present day South Australia and Antarctica. My work has dealt with the palaeobiology, ecology and functional morphology of a wide variety of early Cambrian shelly taxa from South Australia, including molluscs, arthropods and problematica. Recent (and current) work has focused on early Cambrian chronostratigraphy, and the development of the geological timescale. This means that our early Cambrian puzzle pieces can be embedded in a reliable temporal framework in order to understand when important evolutionary innovations occurred and how long ecological changes persisted for.



Research Interests

  • Early Cambrian chronostratigraphy and timescale development
  • Early Cambrian shelly fossil biostratigraphy
  • Carbon isotope chemostratigraphy
  • Bradoriid arthropod palaeobiology, functional morphology, ecology and systematics
  • Carbonate sedimentology
  • Metazoan-microbial buildups and interactions
  • Small Carbonaceous Fossils from South Australia and Canada
  • Acid-leaching methodologies for fossil extraction
  • Early Cambrian of North and South China, particularly biogeographic connections with South Australia


Betts, M.J., Paterson, J.R., Jago, J.B., Jacquet, S.M., Skovsted, C.B., Topper, T.P. and Brock, G.A. 2017. Global correlation of the early Cambrian of South Australia: Shelly fauna of the Dailyatia odyssei Zone. Gondwana Research, 46: 240-279.

Jacquet, S.M., Brougham, T., Skovsted, C.B., Jago, J.B., Laurie, J.R., Betts, M.J., Topper, T.P., Brock, G.A. 2016. Watsonella crosbyi from the lower Cambrian (Terreneuvian, Stage 2) Normanville Group in South Australia. Geological Magazine. DOI: 10.1017/S0016756816000704.

Betts, M.J., Paterson, J.R., Jago, J.B., Jacquet, S.M., Skovsted, C.B., Topper, T.P. and Brock, G.A. 2016. A new lower Cambrian shelly fossil biostratigraphy for South Australia. Gondwana Research, 36: 176-208.

Betts, M.J., Brock, G.A. and Paterson, J.P. 2016. Butterflies of the Cambrian benthos? Shield position in bradoriid arthropods. Lethaia, 49: 478-491.

Skovsted, C.B., Pan, B., Topper, T.P., Betts, M.J., Li, G-X. and Brock, G.A. 2016. The operculum and mode of life of the lower Cambrian hyolith Cupitheca from South Australia and North China. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 443: 123-130.

Skovsted, C.B., Betts, M.J., Topper, T.P. and Brock, G.A. 2015. The early Cambrian tommotiid genus Dailyatia from South Australia. Memoirs of the Association of Australasian Palaeontologists 48: 1-117.

Skovsted, C.B., Topper, T.P., Betts, M.J., Brock, G.A. 2014. Associated conchs and opercula of Triplicatella disdoma (Hyolitha) from the early Cambrian of South Australia. Alcheringa 38: 148-153.

Betts, M.J.,Topper, T.P., Valentine, J.L., Skovsted, C.B., Brock, G.A., Paterson, J.R. 2014. A new early Cambrian bradoriid (Arthropoda) assemblage from the northern Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Gondwana Research 25: 420-437.