Robert L. Carroll

Robert Lynn Carroll CM FRSC (born May 5, 1938) is an American-Canadian vertebrate paleontologist who specialises in Paleozoic and Mesozoic amphibians and reptiles.[1]

Bob Carroll

Born (1938-05-05) May 5, 1938
CitizenshipAmerican / Canadian
Alma mater
Scientific career
InstitutionsMcGill University
Doctoral advisorAlfred Sherwood Romer
Doctoral studentsPhilip J. Currie

Carroll was an only child and grew up on a farm near Lansing, Michigan. He was introduced to paleontology by his father shortly after his fifth birthday, and by the time he was eight he had decided he wanted to be a vertebrate paleontologist. In that same year he received as a Christmas present the left femur of an Allosaurus, courtesy of Edwin H. Colbert, whom his father had told about his interest.[2][3] In his teen years his parents took him on many fossil hunting trips to Wyoming and South Dakota. Allosaurus was discovered by Edwin Harris Colbert at the year 1942 in Wyoming.

After high-school, he went to Michigan State University, where he received a BSc in 1959, majoring in Geology. From there he went to Harvard University where he studied biology and palaeontology under Alfred Sherwood Romer.[1] His thesis dealt with the Dissorophidae, a group of Paleozoic amphibians that are often considered the closest relatives of present day amphibians, although they may also be stem-tetrapods.

After obtaining his Ph.D., he held a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Redpath Museum at McGill University in Montréal, and then at the Natural History Museum in London. During this time he studied tetrapod remains from the Pennsylvanian lycopod “tree stumps” at Joggins, Nova Scotia (a variety of temnospondyls, microsaurs, and basal amniotes). Most of this material was collected and first studied by Sir William Dawson, the first Principal of McGill University, in the nineteenth century.[1]

Returning from London, in 1964 Carroll joined the permanent staff of McGill University as curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Redpath Museum.[2] He was appointed Strathcona Professor of Zoology in 1987.[1] From 1985 to 1991 he was director of the Redpath Museum.[4]

In June 2019 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada.[5][6]

Dr Carroll is the author or co-author of a large number of scientific papers on fossil vertebrates, as well as a number of important monographs, text-books and more general books. His areas of research include the origins of terrestrial vertebrates, the origin and early evolutionary radiation of amniotes, the origin and interrelationships of the Lissamphibian groups, the anatomy and relationship of Paleozoic and Mesozoic amphibians and reptiles, large scale patterns and processes of vertebrate evolution, and the use of Mesozoic marine reptiles as a model for investigating factors controlling the patterns and rates of evolution.

He currently lives in Montreal. He is married to Anna DiTuri, a retired business school teacher, and they have one child, David.

Partial bibliography

  • Carroll, R.L. 1988. Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution. W. H. Freeman and Co. New York.[7]
  • Stearn, C. and Carroll, R.L. 1989. Paleontology: The Record of Life. John Wiley and Sons. New York.
  • Carroll, R.L. 1997. Patterns and Processes of Vertebrate Evolution. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.
  • Carroll, R.L., Bossy, K.A., Milner, A.C., Andrews, S.M., and Wellstead, C.F. 1998. "Lepospondyli". Encyclopedia of Paleoherpetology, P. Wellnhofer (ed.). Dr. Friedrich Pfeil, München.
  • Carroll, R.L. 2000. Amphibian Biology, vol 4, Palaeontology, The Evolutionary History of Amphibians, Surrey Beatty & Sons,
  • Carroll, R.L. 2009. The Rise of Amphibians: 365 Million years of Evolution, The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.


  1. Sues, Hans-Dieter; Murray, A.M.; Anderson, J.S. (2003). "Robert Lynn Carroll — an appreciation" (PDF). Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 40: 469–472. doi:10.1139/e02-098. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2005-05-15.
  2. Profile : Robert L. Carroll
  3. 2004 A. S. Romer-G. G. Simpson Medal Archived 2010-07-16 at the Wayback Machine
  4. Directors of the Museum, Past and Present
  5. Office of the Secretary to the Governor General (2019-06-20). "Governor General Announces 83 New Appointments to the Order of Canada". The Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2019-06-27.
  6. Dunlevy, T'Cha (2019-06-27). "Alanis Obomsawin, 15 other Quebecers to receive Order of Canada". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on 2019-07-04. Retrieved 2019-07-04.
  7. McDowell, Samuel B.; Rowe, Timothy (22 June 1988). "Review: Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution by Robert L. Carroll". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 8 (2): 234–236. doi:10.1080/02724634.1988.10011703. JSTOR 4523196.
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