Stephen Dornbos

Graduate Committee Chair; Associate Professor
 (414) 229-6630
 Lapham Hall 372



PhD, University of Southern California
MS, University of Southern California
BA, College of Wooster

Research Interests

Research in my lab focuses on the evolution, paleoecology, and preservation of animals during their initial radiation of the Ediacaran and Cambrian Periods (ca. 635- 488 million years ago). Known popularly as the “Cambrian explosion,” this radiation is one of the most critical events in the history of life on Earth, with complex animals evolving for the first time, radiating throughout the world’s oceans, and diversifying into most of the major animal groups that we still see today. An increasingly complex web of ecological interactions was a fundamental part of this radiation. We find the first evidence for macropredation, extensive skeletonization, deep burrowing in the seafloor, and macroscopic sense organ development during this event.

Courses Taught

Geo Sci 102 – Principles of Historical Geology
Geo Sci 108 – A History of Life
Geo Sci 109 – Dinosaurs (online)
Geo Sci 520 – Introduction to Paleontology
Geo Sci 558 – Conducted Field Trip: Colorado Plateau & Dinosaur National Monument
Geo Sci 558 – Conducted Field Trip: Paleobiology & Sedimentology of the Bahamas
Geo Sci 697 – Seminar in the Geological Sciences: Early Animal Evolution
Geo Sci 697 – Seminar in the Geological Sciences: Marine Paleoecology
Geo Sci 790 – Graduate Seminar in the Geological Sciences: Marine Paleobiology
Geo Sci 790 – Graduate Seminar in the Geological Sciences: Ichnology

Other Activities

Adjunct Curator, Milwaukee Public Museum
Curator, Greene Geological Museum
Commentaries Editor, Palaeontologia Electronica
Board of Directors, Coquina Press
Editorial Board, Heliyon

Selected Publications

Fedorchuk, N. D., Dornbos, S. Q., Corsetti, F. A., Isbell, J. L., Petryshyn, V. A., Bowles, J., & Wilmeth, D. T. (2016). Early non-marine life: Evaluating the biogenicity of Mesoproterozoic fluvial-lacustrine stromatolites. Precambrian Research, 275, 105-118.
Novek, J. M., Dornbos, S. Q., & McHenry, L. J. (2016). Palaeoredox geochemistry and bioturbation levels of the exceptionally preserved early Cambrian Indian Springs biota. Lethaia, 49, 604–616.
Dornbos, S. Q., Oji, T., Kanayama, A., & Gonchigdorj, S. (2016). A new Burgess Shale-type deposit from the Ediacaran of western Mongolia. Scientific Reports, 6, 23438.
Kloss, T. J., Dornbos, S. Q., & Chen, J. (2015). Substrate adaptations of sessile benthic metazoans during the Cambrian radiation. Paleobiology, 41(2), 342–352.
Kloss, T. J., Dornbos, S. Q., Chen, J., McHenry, L. J., & Marenco, P. J. (2015). High-resolution geochemical evidence for oxic bottom waters in three Cambrian Burgess Shale-type deposits. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 440, 90-95.
Wilmeth, D. T., Corsetti, F. A., Bisenic, N., Dornbos, S. Q., Oji, T., & Gonchigdorj, S. (2015). Punctuated growth of microbial cones within early Cambrian oncoids, Bayan Gol Formation, western Mongolia. PALAIOS, 30(12), 836–845.
Dornbos, S. Q., Clapham, M. E., Fraiser, M. L., & Laflamme, M. (2012). Lessons from the fossil record: The Ediacaran radiation, the Cambrian radiation, and the End-Permian mass extinction. Solan, M., Aspden, R. J., & Paterson, D. M. (Eds.). Marine Biodiversity of Ecosystem Functioning: Frameworks, Methodologies, and Integration, 52-72. Oxford: Oxford University Press.