Stephen L. Brusatte

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Stephen Brusatte
Brusatte at a Portuguese fossil site, 2014
Born (1984-04-24) 24 April 1984 (age 40)
Other namesSteve Brusatte
Alma materUniversity of Chicago (B.S.)
University of Bristol (MSc)
Columbia University (MPhil & PhD)
Known forEvolution of dinosaurs
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Edinburgh
Doctoral advisorMark Norell
Other academic advisorsPaul Sereno
Michael J. Benton
Author abbrev. (zoology)Brusatte

Stephen Louis Brusatte FRSE (born April 24, 1984) is an American paleontologist and evolutionary biologist who specializes in the anatomy and evolution of dinosaurs.[1][2] He was educated at the University of Chicago for his Bachelor's degree, at the University of Bristol for his Master's of Science on a Marshall Scholarship, and finally at the Columbia University for Master's in Philosophy and Doctorate. He is currently Professor of Palaeontology and Evolution at the University of Edinburgh.[1] In April 2024, Brusatte was elected to fellowship of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.[3]

In addition to his scientific papers and technical monographs, his popular book Dinosaurs (2008) and the textbook Dinosaur Paleobiology (2012) earned him accolades, and he became the resident palaeontologist and scientific consultant for the BBC Earth and 20th Century Fox's 2013 film Walking With Dinosaurs, which was followed by his popular book Walking with Dinosaurs Encyclopedia.[4] His book The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World (2018), written for the adult lay person, won widespread acclaim and was a New York Times bestseller.[5] In June 2022, he published The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us.[6]


Brusatte was born in Ottawa, Illinois to Jim and Roxanne Brusatte. He was educated at the Ottawa Township High School.[7] From 2002, he attended the University of Chicago from where he earned his Bachelor's in geophysical sciences in 2006. He studied under Paul Sereno. He was elected a Student Marshal, the highest academic honor the university bestows to undergraduates. He was also the winner of the John Crerar Foundation Science Writing Prize and the Howard Hughes Institute Undergraduate Research Fellowship. In 2006, he was awarded a Marshall Scholarship to study in the United Kingdom.[8] He entered the University of Bristol and obtained a Master's in Science in palaeobiology and earth sciences in 2008. His master's thesis was titled Basal Archosaur Phylogeny and Evolution, and was supervised by Michael J. Benton.[9] He returned to the US to join Columbia University, from where he completed his Master's in Philosophy in 2011 and Doctorate in 2013 from the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.[1] During this period, he concurrently worked as a researcher at the Division of Paleontology of the American Museum of Natural History.[2] He became a Chancellor's Fellow in Vertebrate Palaeontology at the School of GeoSciences in the University of Edinburgh in February 2013.[1] He is a member of the Editorial Board for Current Biology.[10]


Brusatte is the author of the 2002 book Stately Fossils: A Comprehensive Look at the State Fossils and Other Official Fossils and the 2008 book Dinosaurs. Additionally, he authored several scientific papers as well as over 100 popular articles for magazines such as Fossil News, Dino Press, Dinosaur World, and Prehistoric Times. At Chicago, he aided in the creation of two databases, TaxonSearch and CharacterSearch, that organize taxonomic and phylogenetic information.[citation needed]

Discovery of fossils[edit]

Brusatte has discovered more than a dozen new species of vertebrate fossils. His breakthrough in the study of dinosaur fossils was while at the University of Chicago with Paul Sereno. Having discovered the skull, jaw, and neck fossils of a 95-million-year-old theropod in the Elrhaz Formation of Niger in 1997, Sereno was looking for a competent student to analyse it. Brusatte took the opportunity in 2004, completed the project in 2005, and published his findings in 2007 with Sereno.[11] The animal was found to be a new species of Carcharodontosaurus, which they named C. iguidensis. He estimated that the complete skull would be more than five feet long, one of the biggest skulls of a known carnivorous dinosaur.[7] This was followed by the description of another new theropod from the Elrhaz Formation in January 2008, Kryptops palaios.[12] Another significant discovery was from China in 2014. Alongside Chinese paleontologist Lü Junchang and others, Brusatte described a 66-million-year-old dinosaur, Qianzhousaurus sinensis, which was closely related to the T. rex.[13] Due to its long snout, it was given the nickname "Pinocchio rex".[14]

In January 2015, his team announced the discovery of a marine reptile belonging to the Jurassic Period, around 170 million years ago. The giant, long-nosed, fish-like animal, named Dearcmhara shawcrossi, was found on the Isle of Skye in Scotland.[15] He warrants that the species is not ancestral to Nessie,[16] the Scottish legendary marine animal, as popular media liked to hype,[17] but is certainly the first "distinctly Scottish prehistoric marine reptile".[18]

Documentary appearances[edit]

Stephen Brusatte took part in several documentaries. In 2015 , he appeared in T. Rex Autopsy, a documentary produced by National Geographic Channel and aired on 7 June 2015. In 2016, he appeared in T-Rex: An Evolutionary Journey, produced by NHK.


In February 2020, Brusatte was hired as a member of the consulting team of paleontologists to work on Jurassic World Dominion.[19] The film included many feathered dinosaurs for the first time in a Jurassic Park movie. Brusatte reported that he had been extensively involved with the production team and that he made director Colin Trevorrow promise to include feathered dinosaurs in this installment of the franchise.[20]


  • Stately Fossils: A Comprehensive Look at the State Fossils and Other Official Fossils (2002)
  • Dinosaurs (2008)
  • Field Guide to Dinosaurs (2009)
  • Dinosaur Paleobiology (2012)
  • Were Stegosaurs Carnivores? (2012)
  • Walking with Dinosaurs Encyclopedia (Walking With Dinosaurs the 3d Movie) (2013)
  • Day of the Dinosaurs: Step into a spectacular prehistoric world (Science X 10) (2016)
  • Pinocchio Rex and Other Tyrannosaurs (2017)
  • The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World (2018)
  • The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us (2022)


  1. ^ a b c d "Dr Steve Brusatte". Edinburgh Research Explorer. The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Steve Brusatte". Archived from the original on July 18, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  3. ^ Thomas, James (April 8, 2024). "Eminent cultural and scientific figures named as RSE Fellows". Royal Society of Edinburgh.
  4. ^ "Walking With Dinosaurs Books". Answers 2000 Limited. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  5. ^ Flatow, Ira (May 29, 2018). "When the Dinosaurs Reigned". The New York Times.
  6. ^ "The Rise and Reign of the Mammals: A New History, from the Shadow of the Dinosaurs to Us: Brusatte, Steve: 9781529034219: Books".
  7. ^ a b Smith, Hollie (December 28, 2007). "OTTAWA: Fossil fascination -- Brusatte researches new breed of meat-eater". The Times. Ottawa Publishing Company, L.L.C. Archived from the original on January 18, 2015. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  8. ^ Dixon, Kim. "Young scholars off to study at Oxford, Bristol". The University of Chicago Chronicle. 2005. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  9. ^ "Stephen Brusatte". University of Bristol. Archived from the original on July 14, 2007. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  10. ^ "Editorial Board: Current Biology".
  11. ^ Brusatte, Stephen L.; Sereno, Paul C. (2007). "A new species of Carcharodontosaurus (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from the Cenomanian of Niger and a revision of the genus". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 27 (4): 902–916. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2007)27[902:ANSOCD]2.0.CO;2. JSTOR 30117458. S2CID 86202969.
  12. ^ Sereno, Paul C.; Brusatte, Stephen L. (2008). "Basal Abelisaurid and Carcharodontosaurid Theropods from the Lower Cretaceous Elrhaz Formation of Niger". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 53 (1): 15–46. doi:10.4202/app.2008.0102. hdl:20.500.11820/5d55ed2e-52f2-4e4a-9ca1-fd1732f2f964.
  13. ^ Lü, Junchang; Yi, Laiping; Brusatte, Stephen L.; Yang, Ling; Li, Hua; Chen, Liu (2014). "A new clade of Asian Late Cretaceous long-snouted tyrannosaurids". Nature Communications. 5 (3788): 3788. Bibcode:2014NatCo...5.3788L. doi:10.1038/ncomms4788. PMID 24807588.
  14. ^ Morgan, James (May 7, 2014). "New Tyrannosaur named 'Pinocchio rex'". BBC News. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  15. ^ Brusatte, S. L.; Young, M. T.; Challands, T. J.; Clark, N. D. L.; Fischer, V.; Fraser, N. C.; Liston, J. J.; MacFadyen, C. C. J.; Ross, D. A.; Walsh, S.; Wilkinson, M. (2015). "Ichthyosaurs from the Jurassic of Skye, Scotland" (PDF). Scottish Journal of Geology. 51 (1): 43–55. Bibcode:2015ScJG...51...43B. doi:10.1144/sjg2014-018. hdl:2268/176434. S2CID 54614526.
  16. ^ Brusatte, S (January 13, 2015). "How we found Scotland's first Jurassic sea reptile (and no, she's not related to Nessie)". The Conversation. The Conversatio Media Group. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  17. ^ Knapton, Sarah (January 12, 2015). "Was this Nessie's ancestor? Giant prehistoric monster roamed Scottish waters". The Telegraph. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  18. ^ Sample, Ian (January 12, 2015). "Fossil from Skye is new species of marine predator, scientists say". The Guardian. Retrieved January 16, 2015.
  19. ^ Bui, Hoai-Tran. (February 19, 2020) ‘Jurassic World 3’ Casts ‘Altered Carbon’ Star Dichen Lachman, Hires New Dinosaur Consulting Team. /Film. Retrieved 19 February 2020.
  20. ^ @stevebrusatte (June 9, 2021). "Well well well, what a sharp dressed dinosaur" (Tweet). Archived from the original on June 20, 2023. Retrieved July 16, 2023 – via Twitter.

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