Zhiliang Zhang

Dr

  • Source: Scopus
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20142020

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Biography

Dr. Zhiliang Zhang is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Biology at Macquarie University where he is undertaking an MQRF (Macquarie University Research Fellowship) project integrating fossil shell ultrastructure and biomarkers (molecular fossils) to resolve the evolutionary roots of the lophotrochozoan tree of life during the early Cambrian evolutionary radiation. His research will elucidate key events associated with early animal evolution and ecology, with particular emphasis on the “Cambrian radiation”, the most remarkable evolutionary burst of animal diversification to have occurred on Earth over the last 540 million years.

  His Doctoral research (2015-2018) focused on taxonomic documentation and ecological analysis of early Cambrian lophotrochozoan animals – a remarkable group of anatomically disparate animals preserved in the famous Chengjiang Konservat-Lagerstätte (preservation of soft bodied animals) and widespread carbonate rocks (shelly fossils) from South China. He already has 15 peer-reviewed journal papers with an increasing rate of annual publication in successively higher impact journals, which has contributed new knowledge about the Cambrian evolutionary radiation in six main ways: 1.) reconstructing the diversity, phylogenetic relationship, ecological complexity and early evolution of brachiopods during the Cambrian radiation from South China, which was a separate palaeo-continent during this period; 2.) resolving the morpho-anatomical diversity of early Cambrian animals through studies of exceptionally preserved soft-bodied fossil assemblages; 3.) uncovering the epithelial cell disposition, shell ultrastructure and growth pattern of the oldest acrotretid brachiopods for the first time; 4.) determining the early metamorphosis and ontogenetic growth of ancestral brachiopod groups; 5.) resolving intercontinental stratigraphic correlation of the traditional Early Cambrian and helping to refine the Cambrian timescale; 6.) new innovative investigations combining compressed fossils with soft-tissue preservation (Konservat-Lagerstätte) with three dimensional shelly fossils preserved in limestones.

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