Emily Rayfield

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Emily Rayfield
NationalityBritish United Kingdom
Alma materOxford University Cambridge University
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Bristol
Doctoral advisorDavid B. Norman

Emily Rayfield is a British palaeontologist, who is a Professor in Palaeobiology in the School of Earth Sciences at the University of Bristol.[1]

Her research focuses on the functional anatomy of extinct vertebrates, especially dinosaurs, using computational methods such as finite element analysis (FEA). In the landmark paper Rayfield et al. (2001),[2] the skull of the theropod dinosaur Allosaurus was analysed using FEA in order to quantitatively assess different feeding hypotheses. This paper was the first use of FEA on a three-dimensional structure in palaeontology (in collaboration with CT scanning), and spurred interest in using CT-scanned skull FEA on feeding biomechanics in zoology and palaeontology.[3]

In addition, she helped elucidate the cranial biomechanics of the noted carnivorous dinosaur Tyrannosaurus using two-dimensional FEA.[4] This study was expanded upon in a comparative finite element analysis of 2D theropod skulls (namely Allosaurus Coelophysis and Tyrannosaurus), in order to quantitatively compare cranial biomechanics.[5]

Prof. Rayfield was President of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology from 2018 to 2020.

Honours and awards[edit]


  1. ^ Dr Emily Rayfield: Earth Sciences: University of Bristol
  2. ^ Rayfield, E. J., Norman, D. B., Horner, C. C., Horner, J. R., Smith, P. M., Thomason, J. J. and Upchurch, P. 2001. Cranial design and function in a large theropod dinosaur. Nature 409: 1033-1037.
  3. ^ Rayfield, E. J. 2007. Finite element analysis in vertebrate morphology. Annual Reviews in Earth and Planetary Sciences 35: 541–576.
  4. ^ Rayfield, E. J. 2004. Cranial mechanics and feeding in Tyrannosaurus rex. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B-Biological Sciences 271: 1451-1459.
  5. ^ Rayfield, E. J. 2005. Aspects of comparative cranial mechanics in the theropod dinosaurs Coelophysis, Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 144 (3): 309–316.
  6. ^ "Medal and Award Winners List". Palaeontological Association. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  7. ^ "Lyell Fund". Geological Society. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Bigsby Medal". Geological Society. Retrieved 29 April 2020.
  9. ^ "ZSL Scientific Medal Winners" (PDF). Retrieved 20 February 2024.