In 2015 Richard Butler, Martin Ezcurra and Roland Sookias visited India for the first time to carry out fieldwork funded by a National Geographic Young Explorer’s Award to Martín, in collaboration with our Indian colleagues Dr Saswati Bandyopadhyay and Dr Dhurjati Sengupta of the Geological Studies Unit of the Indian Statistical Institute. Our target was the Lower Triassic Panchet Formation of West Bengal, from which an important but generally fragmentary assemblage of vertebrate material has previously been collected from immediately after the Permo-Triassic extinction event. Our aims were to collect additional material, particularly of proterosuchid archosauromorphs, and better understand the recovery from the extinction in this part of Pangaea. Outcrops were generally sparse, but we did find a significant number of specimens in the bed of the Damodar River. These included remains of temnospondyl amphibians, fish, and the dicynodont Lystrosaurus, but also, more excitingly (for us), a number of specimens belonging to proterosuchids. These were all isolated cranial and postcranial elements, but together with historically collected material that we examined back in Kolkata, they are going to help us build up a more complete picture of the Panchet fauna.


In 2014 we began a new field project in South Africa, in collaboration with Jonah Choiniere from the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. The target was Middle Triassic rocks of the Burgersdorp Formation in Eastern Cape Province, and the aim was to find new fossil sites in the part of the formation referred to by the snappy title of Cynognathus Assemblage Zone, Subzone C. These rocks are believed to be contemporaneous with rocks in Tanzania that have yielded the oldest dinosauromorph body fossils, and so our aim was to discover early archosaurs and dinosauromorphs in South Africa. We were very successful in identifying a number of new sites yielding vertebrate remains, although mostly of temnospondyls, cynodonts and dicynodonts. Future fieldwork is planned for 2016 and beyond to more fully explore these sites. Fieldwork is supported by the Marie Curie Actions (Career Integration Grant).