Charles R. Marshall

Charles R. Marshall

Philip Sandford Boone Chair in Paleontology and Distinguished Professor

Director of the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP); Chair of the Berkeley Natural History Museums (BNHMs); Joint appointment in Earth and Planetary Sciences.

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Research Description

I am a paleontologist /deep-time evolutionary biologist broadly interested in how life has evolved on Earth, and in understanding the processes responsible for shaping life’s long-term evolution.  My primary sources of data are from the fossil and geological records, as well as historical information derived from the living biota (including their genomes).  My research has a strong epistemological component, often involving the development of new tools or ways of integrating disparate data.  Graduate students are encouraged to develop their own research projects, and to take maximum advantage of intellectual breadth and depth that characterizes the Department of Integrative Biology, the UCMP, the other Berkeley Natural History Museums, and the greater Berkeley campus.

Selected Publications

Marshall, C.R. 2023. James Valentine (20 November 1926–7 April 2023), co-founder of Paleobiology and master of idiographically informed nomothetism. Paleobiology (in press)

Marshall, C.R. 2023. Forty years later: The status of the “Big Five” mass extinctions. Cambridge Prisms: Extinction 1:e5 (13 pages).

Brunk, C.F., and C.R. Marshall. 2021. ‘ Whole Organism ’, Systems Biology , and Top-Down Criteria for Evaluating Scenarios for the Origin of Life. Life 11:690–715.

Marshall, C.R., Latorre, D.V., Wilson, C.J., Frank, T.M., Magoulick, K.M., Zimmt, J.B. and Poust, A.W. 2021. Absolute abundance and preservation rate of Tyrannosaurus rex. Science, 372: 284-287.

[Commentary:  Kreier, F. 2021. How many T. rex ever existed? Calculation of dinosaur's abundance offers an answer. Nature doi: 10.1038/d41586-021-00984-2 <>]

Zimmt, J.B., Holland, S.M., Finnegan, S. and Marshall, C.R., 2021. Recognizing pulses of extinction from clusters of last occurrences. Palaeontology, 64(1), pp.1-20.

Wilke, T., T. Hauffe, E. Jovanovska, A. Cvetkoska, T. Donders, K. Ekschmitt, A. Francke, J. H. Lacey, Z. Levkov, C. R. Marshall, T. A. Neubauer, D. Silvestro, B. Stelbrink, H. Vogel, C. Albrecht, J. Holtvoeth, S. Krastel, N. Leicher, M. J. Leng, K. Lindhorst, A. Masi, N. Ognjanova-Rumenova, K. Panagiotopoulos, J. M. Reed, L. Sadori, S. Tofilovska, B. Van Bocxlaer, F. Wagner-Cremer, F. P. Wesselingh, V. Wolters, G. Zanchetta, X. Zhang, and B. Wagner. 2020: Deep drilling reveals massive shifts in evolutionary dynamics after formation of ancient ecosystem. Science Advances 6:1–10.

Marshall, C.R., 2019. Using the fossil record to evaluate timetree timescales. Frontiers in Genetics 10: 1049 (20 pages). doi: 10.3389/fgene.2019.01049 <>

Souto, C., Mooi, R., Martins, L., Menegola, C. and Marshall, C.R., 2019. Homoplasy and extinction: the phylogeny of cassidulid echinoids (Echinodermata). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 187(3): 622-660.

Lim, J.Y., Marshall, C.R., Zimmer, E.A. and Wagner, W.L., 2019. Multiple colonizations of the Pacific by Peperomia (Piperaceae): Complex patterns of long-distance dispersal and parallel radiations on the Hawaiian Islands. Journal of Biogeography 46(12): 2651-2662.

Marshall, C.R., S. Finnegan, E. C. Clites, P. A. Holroyd, N. Bonuso, C. Cortez, E. Davis, G. P. Dietl, P. S. Druckenmiller, R. C. Eng, C. Garcia, K. Estes-Smargiassi, A. Hendy, K. A. Hollis, H. Little, E. A. Nesbitt, P. Roopnarine, L. Skibinski, J. Vendetti, & L. D. White. 2018.  Quantifying the dark data in museum fossil collections as palaeontology undergoes a second digital revolution. Biology Letters 14: 20180431 (4 pages).

Vermeij, G.J., R. K. Grosberg, C. R. Marshall, R. Motani.  2018.  The sea as deathtrap: comment on a paper by Miller and Wiens. Ecology Letters doi: 10.1111/ele.12886.

Getz, W. M., C. R. Marshall, C. J. Carlson, L. Giuggioli, S. J. Ryan, S. S. Romañach,.C. Boettiger, S. D. Chamberlain, L. Larsen, P. D'Odorico, D. O'Sullivan.  2018. Making ecological models adequate.  Ecology Letters 21: 153–166.

Marshall, C.R. 2017.  A tip of the hat to evolutionary change (News and Views). Nature 552, 35-37.

Marshall, C.R. 2017. Five paleobiological laws needed to understand the evolution of the living biota. Nature Ecology and Evolution 1: 0165. doi:10.1038/s41559-017-0165.

Lim, J.Y., C.R. Marshall. 2017. The true tempo of evolutionary radiation and decline revealed on the Hawaiian Archipelago. Nature 543: 710–713. doi:10.1038/nature21675. 

Barnosky, A. D., E. A. Hadly, P. Gonzalez, J. Head, P. D. Polly, A. M. Lawing, J. T. Eronen, D. D. Ackerly, K. Alex, E. Biber, J. Blois, J. Brashares, G. Ceballos, E. Davis, G. P. Dietl, R. Dirzo, H. Doremus, M. Fortelius, H. W. Greene, J. Hellmann, T. Hickler, S. T. Jackson, M. Kemp, P. L. Koch, C. Kremen, E. L. Lindsey, C. Looy, C. R. Marshall, C. Mendenhall, A. Mulch, A. M. Mychajliw, C. Nowak, U. Ramakrishnan, J. Schnitzler, K. Das Shrestha, K. Solari, L. Stegner, M. A. Stegner, N. C. Stenseth, M. H. Wake, and Z. Zhang. 2017. Merging paleobiology with conservation biology to guide the future of terrestrial ecosystems. Science 255: eaah4787 (11 pages). 

Contreras, D.L., I.A.P. Duijnstee, S. Ranks, C.R. Marshall, C.V. Looy. 2017. Evolution of dispersal strategies in conifers: functional divergence and convergence in the morphology of diaspores. Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 24: 93-117. 

Villavicencio, N.A., E.L. Lindsey, F.M. Martin, L.A. Borrero, P.I. Moreno, C.R. Marshall, and A.D. Barnosky. 2016. Combination of humans, climate, and vegetation change triggered Late Quaternary megafauna extinction in the Última Esperanza region, southern Patagonia, Chile. Ecography 39: 125-140. 

Marshall, C.R., Quental, T.B. (2016). The uncertain role of diversity dependence in species diversification and the need to incorporate time-varying carrying capacities. Philosophical Transactions B, 371.

Wang, S. C., Marshall, C.R. (2016). Estimating times of extinction in the fossil record. Biology Letters, 12(4).

Marshall, C.R.  (2015).  How stable are food webs during a mass extinction? (Perspective) Science 350: 38–39.

Barnosky, A.D., E.L. Lindseya, N.A. Villavicencioa, E. Bostelmannc, E.A. Hadlyd, J. Wankete, C.R. Marshall. (2015).  The variable impact of late-Quaternary megafaunal extinction in causing ecological state shifts in North and South America.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 113: 856–861.

Marshall, C.R., E.L. Lindsey, N.A. Villavicencio, A.D. Barnosky. 2015. A quantitative model for distinguishing between climate change, human impact, and their synergistic interactions as drivers of late Quaternary megafaunal extinctions. In P.D. Polly, J.J. Head, and D.L. Fox (eds.),  Earth-Life Transitions: Paleobiology in the Context of Earth System Evolution. The Paleontological Society Papers 21. Yale Press, New Haven, CT. Pp.. 1–20.

Condamine, F.L., N.S. Nagalingum, C.R. Marshall, H. Morlon. (2015).  Origin and diversification of living cycads: A cautionary tale on the impact of the branching process prior in Bayesian molecular dating.  BMC Evolutionary Biology 15: 65 (18 pages).

Huynh, T. L., D. Evangelista, C. R. Marshall.  (2015).  Visualizing the fluid flow through the complex skeletonized respiratory structures of a blastoid echinoderm.  Palaeontologica Electronica 18.1.14A: 1–17.

Villavicencio, N.A., E.L. Lindsey, F.M. Martin, L.A. Borrero, P.I. Moreno , C.R. Marshall, A.D. Barnosky. (2015).  Interaction of humans, climate, and vegetation change triggers Late Quaternary megafauna extinction in the Última Esperanza region, southern Patagonia, Chile.  Ecography doi: 10.1111/ecog.01606.

Varela, S., J. González-Hernández, L.F. Sgarbi, C.R. Marshall, M.D. Uhen, S. Peters, M. McClennen. (2015)  paleobioDB: an R-package for downloading, visualizing and processing data from the Paleobiology Database.  Ecography 38: 1–7.

Valentine, J.W. and C.R. Marshall. (2015).  Fossil and transcriptomic perspectives on the origins and success of metazoan multicellularity. In:  The Evolution of Multicellularity, Iñaki R.-T., A.M. Nedelcu (eds.).  Springer-Verlag.  Pp. 31–46.

Marshall, C.R.  2014.  The evolution of morphogenetic fitness landscapes: conceptualising the interplay between the developmental and ecological drivers of morphological innovation. Australian Journal of Zoology 62: 3­–17.

Quental T. B. and C. R. Marshall.  2013.  How the Red Queen drives terrestrial mammals to extinction. Science 341: 290–292.

Marshall, C.R.  2013.  When prior belief trumps scholarship (Book Review:  Darwin’s Doubt, S.C. Meyer).  Science 341: 1344.

Barnosky, A.D., E.A. Hadly, J. Bascompte, E.L. Berlow, J.H. Brown, M. Fortelius, W.M. Getz, J. Harte, A. Hastings, P.A. Marquet, N.D. Martinez, A. Mooers, P. Roopnarine, G. Vermeij, J.W. Williams, R. Gillespie, J. Kitzes, C.R. Marshall, N. Matzke, D.P. Mindell, E. Revilla, A.B. Smith.  2012.  Approaching a state-shift in the biosphere and implications for biological forecasting.  Nature 486: 52–58.

Nagalingum, N.S., C.R. Marshall, T.B. Quental, H.S. Rai, D.P. Little and S. Mathews.  2011. Recent Synchronous Radiation of a Living Fossil.  Science  334: 796­–799.

Quental, T.B. and C.R. Marshall. 2011.  The molecular phylogenetic signature of clades in decline. PLoS ONE 6(10): e25780. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025780.

Barnosky, A.D., N. Matzke, S. Tomiya, G.O.U. Wogan, B. Swartz, T.B. Quental, C.R. Marshall, J.L. McGuire, E.L. Lindsey, K.C. Maguire, B. Mersey and E.A. Ferrer.  2011. Has the Earth’s sixth mass extinction already arrived?  Nature 471: 51–57.

Roger, V., C.D. Bell, R. Macniven, B. Goldman-Huertas, R.H. Ree, C.R. Marshall, S. Balint, K. Johnson, D. Benyamini, and N. Pierce.  2011. Phylogeny and palaeoecology of Polyommatus blue butterflies show Beringia was a climate-regulated gateway to the New World. Proceedings of the Royal Society, B 278 (on line).

Marshall, C.R.  2010.  Using confidence intervals to quantify the uncertainty in the end-points of stratigraphic ranges.  In: Quantitative Methods in Paleobiology, J. Alroy and G. Hunt (eds.). The Paleontological Society Papers 16: 291–316. 

Liow, L.H., T.B. Quental, and C.R. Marshall.  2010. When can decreasing diversification rates be detected with molecular phylogenies and the fossil record?  Systematic Biology 59: 646–659.

Marshall, C.R.  2010.  Marine biodiversity dynamics over deep time.  Science 329: 1156–1157.

Quental, T.B. and C.R. Marshall. 2010.  Diversity dynamics:  molecular phylogenies need the fossil record.  Trends in Ecology and Evolution 25: 434-441.

Quek, S.-P., B.A. Counterman, P. Albuquerque de Moura, M.Z. Cardoso, C.R. Marshall, W.O. McMillan, and M.R. Kronforst.  2010. Dissecting comimetic radiations in Heliconius reveals divergent histories of convergent butterflies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA104: 7134–7138.

Marshall, C.R.  and J.W. Valentine.  2010.  The importance of preadapted genomes in the origin of the animal bodyplans and the Cambrian explosion.  Evolution 64: 1189-1201.

Marshall, C.R.  2010.  The Next 150 Years:  Towards a Richer Theoretical Biology.  In:  Evolution After Darwin: the First 150 Years, M.A. Bell, M.A., W.F. Eanes, W.F., D.J. Futuyma, D.J., Levinton, J.S. (eds.).  Sinauer Associates, Sunderland, MA. 

Schmidtling, R.C. and C.R. Marshall. 2010.  Three dimensional structure and fluid flow through the hydropsire of the blastoid echinoderm, Pentremites rusticus.  Journal of Paleontology 84: 109–117.

Quental T.B., and C.R. Marshall. 2009.  Extinction during evolutionary radiations:  reconciling the fossil record with molecular phylogenies.  Evolution63: 3158–3167.

Marshall, C.R., and D.K. Jacobs.  2009.  Flourishing after the end-Permian mass extinction (Perspective).  Science 325: 1079–1080.

Roberts, D.L., and C.R. Marshall.  2009.  Are higher taxa described earlier or later than expected by chance?  Systematics and Biodiversity 7(3): 243–247.

Wilson, J.P., A.H. Knoll, N.M. Holbrook, C.R. Marshall.  2008.  Modeling fluid flow in Medullosa, an anatomically unusual Carboniferous seed plant. Paleobiology 34(4): 472–493.

Alroy, J., M. Aberhan, D.J. Bottjer, M. Foote, F.T. Fürsich, P. J. Harries, A.J. W. Hendy, S.M. Holland, L.C. Ivany, W. Kiessling, M.A. Kosnik, C.R. Marshall, A.J. McGowan, A.I. Miller, T.D. Olszewski, M.E. Patzkowsky, S.E. Peters, L. Villier, P. J. Wagner, N. Bonuso, P.S. Borkow, B. Brenneis, M.E. Clapham, L.M. Fall, C.A. Ferguson, V.L. Hanson, A.Z. Krug, K.M. Layou, E.H. Leckey, S. Nürnberg, C.M. Powers, J.A. Sessa, C. Simpson, A. Tomasovych, C.C. Visaggi.  2008.  Phanerozoic trends in the global diversity of marine invertebrates.  Science: 321: 97–100. 

Marshall, C.R.  2008.  A simple method for bracketing absolute divergence times on molecular phylogenies using multiple fossil calibration points. The American Naturalist 171(6): 726-742.

Ramírez, S.R., B. Gravendeel,  R.B. Singer, C.R. Marshall, N.E. Pierce.  2007.  Dating the origin of the Orchidaceae from a fossil orchid with its pollinator.  Nature 448: 1042–1045.

Markey, M.J., and C.R. Marshall.  2007.  Terrestrial-style feeding in a very early aquatic tetrapod:  evidence from experimental analysis of suture morphology. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA 104: 7134–7138.

Lu, P., M. Yogo, C.R. Marshall.  2006.  Phanerozoic marine biodiversity dynamics in light of the incompleteness of the fossil record.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 103: 2736-2739.

Marshall, C.R.  2006.  Explaining the Cambrian “explosion” of animals.  Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences 34: 355-384. 

Marshall, C.R.  2005. Comment on “Abrupt and gradual extinction among Late Permian land vertebrates in the Karoo Basin, South Africa”.  Science308: 1413b.

Bush, A.M., M.J. Markey, and C.R. Marshall.  2004.  Alpha, beta, gamma:  the effects of spatially organized biodiversity on sampling-standardization.  Paleobiology 30: 666-686.

Wang, S. C., and C.R. Marshall.  2004.  Improved confidence intervals for estimating the position of a mass extinction boundary.  Paleobiology 30: 5-18.

Tavaré S., C.R. Marshall, O. Will, C. Soligo, R.D. Martin.  2002.  Using the fossil record to estimate the age of the last common ancestor of extant primates.  Nature 416: 726-729.

Shubin, N.H.,  and C.R. Marshall.  2000.   Fossils, genes, and the origin of novelty.  Paleobiology Supplement to 26(4):  324-340.

Marshall, C.R.  1999.  Missing links in the history of life.  In:  Evolution:  Facts and Fallacies (J.W. Schopf, ed.)  Academic Press. pp.37-69.

Marshall, C.R.  1999.  Fossil gap analysis supports early Tertiary origin of trophically diverse avian orders: Comment.  Geology 27(1):95.

Weiss, R.E., and Marshall, C.R.  1999.  The uncertainty in the true end point of a fossil's stratigraphic range when stratigraphic sections are sampled discretely.  Mathematical Geology  31(4):435-453.

Marshall, C.R.  1997.  Confidence intervals on stratigraphic ranges with non-random distributions of fossil horizons.  Paleobiology  23:165-173.

Wayne, R.K., E. Geffen, D. J. Girman, K. P. Koepfli, L. M. Lau, and C. R. Marshall.  1997.  Molecular systematics of the Canidae.  Systematic Biology 46(4):622-653.

Marshall, C.R. and P.D. Ward.  1996.  Sudden and gradual molluscan extinctions in the latest Cretaceous in western European Tethys.  Science274:1360-1363.

Marshall, C.R.  1995.  Distinguishing between sudden and gradual extinctions in the fossil record:  Predicting the position of the Cretaceous-Tertiary iridium anomaly using the ammonite fossil record on Seymour Island, Antarctica.  Geology 23:731-734.

Marshall, C.R.  1995.  Darwinism in an age of molecular revolution.  In:  Evolution and the Molecular Revolution (C.R. Marshall and J.W. Schopf, eds.)  Jones and Bartlett, Sudbury, Massachusetts. pp. 1-30.

Hirsch, A.M., H.I. McKhann, A. Reddy, J. Liao, Y. Fang, and C.R. Marshall.  1995.  Assessing horizontal transfer of nifHDK genes in Eubacteria:  nucleotide sequence of nifK from Frankia strain HFPCcI3.  Molecular Biology and Evolution  12(1):16-27.

Marshall, C.R.  1994.  Molecular approaches to echinoderm phylogeny with an emphasis on class relationships.  Echinoderms Through Time. (B. David, A. Guille, J.-P. Féral, & M. Roux eds.) A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam.  pp.63-71.

Marshall, C.R., E.C. Raff, and R.A. Raff.  1994.  Dollo's law and the death and resurrection of genes.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA  91:12283-12287.

Marshall, C.R. 1992. Character analysis and the integration of molecular and morphological data in an understanding of sand dollar phylogeny.Molecular Biology and Evolution 9(2): 309-322.

Marshall, C.R. 1992. Substitution bias, weighted parsimony, and amniote phylogeny as inferred from 18S rRNA sequences. Molecular Biology and Evolution 9(2):370-373.

Marshall, C.R., and H.-P. Schultze. 1992.  Relative importance of molecular, neontological and paleontological data in understanding the biology of the vertebrate invasion of land. Journal of Molecular Evolution 35:93-101.

Marshall, C.R., and H. Swift. 1992.  DNA-DNA hybridization phylogeny of sand dollars and highly reproducible extent of hybridization values. Journal of Molecular Evolution  34:31-44.

Marshall, C.R. 1990. The fossil record and estimating divergence times between lineages: Maximum divergence times and the importance of reliable phylogenies. Journal of Molecular Evolution 30:400-408.  

Marshall, C.R. 1990. Confidence intervals on stratigraphic ranges. Paleobiology 16:1-10.

Marshall, C.R. 1988.  A large, well preserved, specimen of the Middle Pennsylvanian lungfish Conchopoma edesi (Osteichthyes:  Dipnoi) from Mazon Creek, Illinois. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 8:383-394.