New Paper in Current Biology

McNamara, M.E., Orr, P.J., Kearns, S.L., Alcalá, L., Anadón, P., Peñalver, E., 2016. Reconstructing carotenoid-based and structural coloration in fossil skin. Current Biology, published online 31/3/2016. DOI: CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF!


Repro Free Provision 310316 The colours of the skin of a 10 million year old Spanish snake have been discovered from its colourless fossil remains by scientists at University College Cork (UCC). Picture shows UCC paleobiologist Dr Maria McNamara, with Bertie the boa constrictor who has the same colouring as the 10 million year old snake. Research by Dr Maria McNamara, UCC and her team have found that some fossils can retain evidence of skin colour from multiple pigments and structural colours depending on the conditions in which they fossilized which will aid research into the evolution and function of color in animals. Pic Michael Mac Sweeney/Provision












See media links related to the research here:

Visit to Áras an Uachtaráin


On 31st January Maria was invited to meet the President of Ireland, Dr Michael D. Higgins, and his wife Sabrina, at Áras an Uachtaráin in Dublin at an event to celebrate the achievements of Irish women scientists. What a wonderful opportunity to form new links with other successful Irish scientists from diverse disciplines!

New Paper in Science

UCC School of BEES palaeontologist Dr Maria McNamara is involved in a paper published recently in the journal Science:

Godefroit, P., Sinitsa, S.M., Dhouailly, D., Bolotsky, Y.L., Sizov, A.V., McNamara, M.E., Benton, M.J., Spagna, P., 2014. Response to Comment on ‘A Jurassic ornithischian dinosaur from Siberia with both feathers and scales’. Science, 346, 434-435. DOI: 10.1126/science.1260146. CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF!

This paper follows on from the team’s discovery earlier this year of fossil feathers in a primitive dinosaur from Siberia (10.1126/science.1253351). This finding has proved controversial, with some other palaeontologists disputing whether the preserved features in the dinosaur are indeed feathers (10.1126/science.1259983).

McNamara’s current paper is an official response to these concerns and presents additional new data that the fossil features are feathers, confirming the team’s original interpretations of feather preservation and evolution.

New exhibition in Cork: ‘The evolution of behaviour: perspectives from the past and present’

The famous biologist Charles Darwin was fascinated by how evolution shapes animal behaviour and many of his ideas continue to influence our understanding of the field today. A new exhibition at the Boole Library in UCC ‘The evolution of behaviour: perspectives from the past and present’ runs until the end of December 2014 and showcases cutting edge research in the field of evolutionary biology by Dr Maria McNamara and her colleague Dr John Quinn at the School of BEESThe exhibition highlights spectacular fossil finds from around the world that have yielded rare glimpses of how animal behaviour has evolved through deep time. The exhibition also shows how detailed study of living bird populations over multiple generations in a modern Irish landscape reveals fascinating insights into the evolutionary significance of individual differences in behaviour. The exhibition features striking images, installations, interactive digital elements and specimens.

Science and art – launch of the ‘Fieldworks’ exhibit at UCC’s Glucksman Gallery

Last Thursday saw the launch of the ‘Fieldworks’ exhibit on habitats at the Glucksman Gallery, UCC. The launch kicked off with a panel discussion with two of the artists whose work features in the exhibition, Wesley Meuris and Sonia Shiel, plus palaeontologist Maria McNamara. The panel fielded diverse questions from the audience and from Chris Clarke, the exhibit’s curator, on why they became involved in the exhibition, their perspectives on animals in science and art, why they chose their career paths, (for the artists) what were their motives for creating specific pieces, and (for Maria) how scientists retain objectivity in their research. This was followed by refreshments and the opportunity to tour the exhibit – good times had by all!

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