Robert M. Sullivan, Ph.D.

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Hunter Wash, San Juan Basin, New Mexico


         I was born in New York City and raised in Connecticut. For as
long as I can remember I have always been interested in science (especially paleontology). As a young boy I used to love to visit the Yale Peabody Museum to see the dinosaur skeletons and other fossils on display. These fascinating creatures of long-ago made a profound impact on my life and I decided at an early age that I wanted to become a vertebrate paleontologist.  
         I left the East Coast to attend college out west in the fall of 1969. I received my B.A. in geology from the University of New Mexico in 1973, completed a year of post-baccalaureate study at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1974, received a M.S. in vertebrate paleontology from San Diego State University (thesis advisor: Richard Estes) in 1978 and a Ph.D. in geology from Michigan State University (dissertation advisor: J. Alan Holman) in 1980.  

         My research interests are in the specialized field of paleoherpetology (the study of fossil amphibians and reptiles). I have focused primarily on the study of the phylogenetic systematics of fossil lizards and dinosaurs as well as the controversial topic of dinosaur extinction. For over two decades I have been actively pursuing fieldwork in New Mexico, concentrating my collecting efforts in the San Juan Basin, targeting the Fruitland, Kirtland, Ojo Alamo and Nacimiento formations for non-mammalian fossil vertebrates.    

      Helodermoides tuberculatus, a glyptosaurine lizard from the late Eocene of
      North America

        Some of my more noteworthy discoveries include a new specimen of the rare lambeosaurine dinosaur Parasaurolophus tubicen  (the second, and most complete, specimen known of this species) and a new ankylosaurid dinosaur Nodocephalosaurus kirtlandensis, which I named in 1999.



Close-up x-ray (left) and x-ray/tube reconstruction (right) of Parasaurolophus tubicen


The holotype skull of Nodocephalosaurus kirtlandensis from the Upper Cretaceous Kirtland Formation (De-na-zin Member), San Juan Basin, New Mexico. This rare and unusual ankylosaurid is more closely related to the Asian genera Tarchia and Sachania, than to the North American Euoplocephalus and Ankylosaurus.

            In addition to my fieldwork, I have traveled abroad to study fossil vertebrates in Canada, Germany, England, France, Czechoslovakia (Czech Republic), Sweden, China and most recently Mongolia (see Mongolia website page, above). I revised the systematics of the pachycephalosaurid dinosaur Stegoceras validum in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology in 2003, and continue to publish on pachycephalosaurid dinosaurs, in addition to other Late Cretaceous vertebrates. Some of these contributions were published in May 2006 in the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science (NMMNH&S) Bulletin 35 titled: Late Cretaceous Vertebrates from the Western Interior. New publications on dinosaurs and other fossil vertebrate can be found in the NMMNH&S Bulletin 53: Fossil Record 3, published in 2011.  

    I have also taught college courses in geology, biology and paleontology and have been an active member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, served as Program Officer (1991-1993) and on the Richard Estes Memorial Award Committee (1998-2002) and as Chairperson for that committee Recommended site (2000-2002).
    I  was the Senior Curator of Paleontology and Geology at The State Museum of Pennsylvania, Harrisburg from 1992 to 2012. I have recently retired from that position and now enjoy my emeritus status while continuing my research and fieldwork in New Mexico.

Copyright 2006 Robert M. Sullivan. All rights reserved.