Dr Elsa Panciroli is a palaeontologist who studies fossils to understand more about animal evolution. She uses X-ray tomography and digital visualisation to understand the anatomy and growth of the first mammals and their closest relatives.
Her work focuses on mammals from the Mesozoic, the ‘time of dinosaurs’. This is a time when we see the origin of major groups and ways of life. In particular, she is interested in mammal growth patterns and the role of body size in mammal development.
Dr Panciroli's work involves the high-resolution scanning of fossil material and application of statistical methods to explore bone shape and tooth microstructure. This helps us understand the assembly of mammal traits (such as warm-bloodedness and toothe replacement patterns), and how they have contributed to the group’s ongoing evolutionary success.
Many of Dr Panciroli’s specimens come from the Isle of Skye in Scotland, where she is a leading member in ongoing field research. She also collaborates on other fossils such as squamates (reptiles), salamanders, and dinosaurs from the rest of the British Isles and internationally.
- How mammals grow and bring up their young
- The origin and evolution of mammals
- The fossil record and deep time
- Scottish fossils and rocks
Dr Elsa Panciroli was trained through the BBC Expert Woman programme in 2019, gaining skills in communication via mainstream media. She has appeared on television shows including The Nine, and radio programmes such as the John Beaty show and BBC CrowdScience. Dr Panciroli has also appeared on numerous podcasts, has been interviewed for newspaper and radio news, and has written for The Guardian.