I started my career in my home city (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), where I obtained my BSc and MSc in Biological Sciences-Zoology at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro with Dr. Alexander Kellner , and began conducting research on fossil reptiles at the National Museum of Brazil. I subsequently moved to Canada to pursue my PhD (concluded in 2018) with Dr. Michael Caldwell at the University of Alberta. I have been a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Pierce Lab at the Dept. Organismic & Evolutionary Biology/Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University since 2019.

My research investigates deep time problems in reptile evolution by combining data from living and extinct species, as well as morphological and molecular data. Some of the major questions I addressed include:

  • How can we integrate data from the fossil record and molecular biology towards a more comprehensive understanding of the reptile tree of life and its major evolutionary transitions? I have been implementing recent advances in evolutionary biology towards understanding the origin of lizards and snakes; the time of origin of all major reptile lineages; bridging the gap between morphological and molecular hypothesis of squamate evolution; reconstructing rates of morphological and molecular evolution in deep time to establish the timing of phenotypic innovations and their association with periods of adaptive radiations in reptiles.
  • How can we improve the analysis of morphological data in phylogenetics, from data collection to analytical protocols? I have been providing new guidelines towards avoiding logical biases in morphological dataset construction; understanding the performance and treatment of morphological data by maximum likelihood and Bayesian inference software; testing substitution, tree and clock models and their impact on macroevolutionary parameter estimation using relaxed molecular/morphological clocks.
  • What are the origins of the major neotropical radiation of lizards and snakes? Despite their extreme abundance among extant forms, we currently know very little behind the first faunas of lizards and snakes to inhabit South America. I have worked on several projects on the taxonomy, biogeography, functional morphology and phylogenetics of various fossil lizard lineages, with special emphasis on South American forms to illuminate the first 100 million years of squamate evolution in South America.

Museum of Comparative Zoology,
Harvard University
26 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

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Twitter: @paleotsimoes

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