Dr. Ali Mirza

Postdoctoral fellow

I work on the history and philosophy of paleontology & ichnology, along with their interaction with studies of living organisms. More specifically, I look at the development of “fossil psychology” over the past two centuries, tracking how thinking about the minds, habits, and behaviors of ancient animals has helped scientists understand the morphology, ecology, and evolutionary trends exhibited by animal life on Earth. One example is how Edward Hitchcock’s studies of fossil footprints influenced Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in the early 19th century. Another is how contemporary research on modern burrows is commonly, and unexpectedly, guided by fossil research. From such case studies, I not only attempt to determine how scientists adapt methods to answer difficult problems about the deep past but also help identify and revive forgotten methods that may be suitable for contemporary application. 

Postdoctoral Supervisors: Dr. Gabriela Mángano and Dr. Luis Buatois

Doctoral Thesis: Living in Stone: The History and Philosophy of Behavior, Morphology, and Traces in the Fossil Record

Degrees: Ph.D. History and Philosophy of Science (Indiana University Bloomington); M.A. Philosophy (University of South Florida); B.S. Industrial Engineering (University of South Florida)


Winsberg, Eric, and Ali Mirza. “Considerations from the philosophy of simulation.” The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism (2017): 250-260

Mirza, Ali. “Of chimeras, harmony, and kintsugi:  towards a historicist epistemology of paleontological reconstruction, theory-change, and exploring heuristics,” Perspectives on Science 30, 4 (2022): 657-695

Dr. Maximiliano Paz

Postdoctoral fellow


I completed my Licenciatura degree with an orientation in Geology of Hydrocarbons at Universidad Nacional de Río Negro, Argentina. My Ph.G. involved the sedimentological, ichnological, and geochemical analysis of the Vaca Muerta Formation black shales of Argentina, with a focus on understanding bottom water oxygenation levels. My interests are in ichnology applied to sedimentary environment analysis, fine-grained sedimentology, and geochemical redox proxies.

Doctoral thesis: Ichnology, sedimentary facies, sequence stratigraphy, and geochemistry of black shales from the Upper Jurassic – Lower Cretaceous Vaca Muerta Formation, Neuquén Basin, Argentina

Postdoctoral supervisors: Dr. Gabriela Mángano and Dr. Luis Buatois


Paz, M., Buatois, L.A., Mángano, M.G., Desjardins, P.R., Rodríguez, M.N., Ponce, J.J., Minisini, D., Tomassini, F.G., Pereira, E., Carmona, N.B. and Fantín, M., 2023. Basin circulation affecting sediment partitioning in a fine-grained carbonate–siliciclastic, subaqueous clinoform: the Upper Jurassic–Lower Cretaceous Vaca Muerta Formation, Neuquén Basin, Argentina. Journal of the Geological Society180(2).

Paz, M., Mángano, M.G., Buatois, L.A., Desjardins, P.R., Notta, R., Tomassini, F.G. and Carmona, N.B., 2022. Ichnology of muddy shallow-water contourites from the upper Jurassic–lower Cretaceous Vaca Muerta Formation, Argentina: implications for trace-fossil models. Palaios37(5), pp.201-218.

Paz, M., Ponce, J.J., Buatois, L.A., Mángano, M.G., Carmona, N.B. and Pereira, E. (submitted). Bottomset and foreset sedimentary processes in the mixed carbonate-siliciclastic Upper Jurassic Vaca Muerta Formation, Picún Leufú area, Argentina. Sedimentology.

Dr. Anthony Shillito

Postdoctoral fellow

I work on the ichnological record of the initial colonization of land by invertebrates during the lower to middle Palaeozoic. Whilst my previous research has focussed on understanding the geography and mechanics of terrestrialization, my research in Saskatoon seeks to uncover the key driving forces behind this major evolutionary event. After finishing my undergraduate degree and MSci in Natural Sciences, focussing on geology, at Cambridge University in 2015, I remained there to complete my Ph.D. with Dr. Neil Davies, submitting my thesis in 2019. I then spent three years at the University of Oxford as a Junior Research Fellow working on the project: “The rise and impact of Earth’s earliest non-marine biomes: how fauna shaped the continents and how the continents shaped fauna”. I joined the Ichnoplanet family in October 2022 on a two-year Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship.

Postdoctoral Project: Environmental and ecological drivers for the initial colonization of the continents

Postdoctoral Supervisors: Dr. Luis Buatois and Dr. Gabriela Mángano

Degrees: Ph.D. Geology (St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge); MSci, MA Natural Sciences, Geology (St Catharine’s College, University of Cambridge)

Doctoral Thesis: Understanding the theatre of terrestrialization: Silurian-Devonian sedimentary landscapes and continental ecosystems

Recent publications:

Shillito, A.P. & Davies, N.S. 2022. Grain size controlled the Siluro-Devonian colonization of non-marine substrates by infaunal invertebrates. Palaios, 37(12), 731-743.

Buatois, L.A., Davies, N.S., Gibling, M.R., Krapovickas, V., Labandeira, C.C., MacNaughton, R.B., Mángano, M.G., Minter, N.J. & Shillito, A.P. 2022. The invasion of the land in deep time: Integrating Paleozoic records of paleobiology, ichnology, sedimentology, and geomorphology. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 62(2), 297-331.

Davies, N.S., Garwood, R., McMahon, W.J., Schneider, J. & Shillito, A.P. 2022. The largest arthropod in Earth history: insights from newly discovered Arthropleura remains (Serpukhovian Stainmore Formation, Northumberland, England). Journal of the Geological Society, 179(3).