Mr James Holmes

Mr James Holmes
  • Biography/ Background

    My interests revolve around the Neoproterozoic-Cambrian transition, including the Cambrian 'explosion' and the rise of multicellular life on Earth. In particular, I am interested in what Cambrian and Ediacaran exceptionally preserved deposits can tell us about the evolution of early animals and communities.


    My PhD project focuses on quantitative ontogenetics of early Cambrian trilobites from the Emu Bay Shale, a Cambrian Burgess Shale-type (BST) Lagerstätte from Kangaroo Island, South Australia. This type of study has yet to undertaken focusing on organisms of this age, in the aftermath of the “Cambrian explosion” – the largest animal biodiversification event in Earth’s history. Results from this study will help us to determine how growth is controlled in some of the earliest arthropods, and shows how morphometric analysis of fossil datasets can provide answers to important questions concerning evolutionary developmental biology.


    My Masters thesis involved comparisons between the Emu Bay Shale and other Cambrian BST biotas. To this end it involved two major projects; a biogeographic study of Cambrian BST biotas, and a study of moulting behaviour in trilobites from the Emu Bay Shale.

  • Qualifications

    MPhil (Science), University of Adelaide, 2016. Thesis title: Biogeographic and Biological Comparisons Between the Emu Bay Shale (Kangaroo Island, South Australia) and Other Burgess Shale-Type Biotas. Supervisors: Dr. Diego García-Bellido, Prof. Mike Lee and Prof. Corey Bradshaw.

    B.Sc (Evolutionary Biology - Palaeontology), University of Adelaide, 2014

    B.Ec, University of Adelaide, 2007

  • Awards & Achievements

    Recipient of the Constance Fraser PhD Scholarship (highest ranked APA applicant with Masters qualification) 2017–2019

    Dean's Commendation for Master by Research Thesis Excellence 2016

    Bill Williams Memorial Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Biology (Level III) 2014

    Faculty of Sciences Outstanding Academic Achievement Award 2012, 2013, 2014

    AusIMM Outstanding Academic Achievement Award (Level II) 2013

    Reg Sprigg Prize in Geology (Level I) 2012

  • Publications

    Holmes, J.D., García-Bellido, D.C. & Paterson, J.R., 2019. The trilobite Redlichia from the lower Cambrian Emu Bay Shale Konservat-Lagerstätte of South Australia: systematics, ontogeny and soft-part anatomy. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. (

    Reid, L.M., Holmes, J.D., Payne, J.L., García-Bellido, D.C. & Jago, J.B., 2018. Taxa, turnover and taphofacies: a preliminary analysis of facies–assemblage relationships in the Ediacara Member (Flinders Ranges, South Australia), Australian Journal of Earth Sciences. (

    Drage, H.B., Holmes, J.D., García-Bellido, D.C. & Daley, A.C., 2018. An exceptional record of Cambrian trilobite moulting behaviour preserved in the Emu Bay Shale, South Australia, Lethaia, 51, 473–492.

    Holmes, J.D., García-Bellido, D.C. & Lee, M.S.Y., 2018. Comparisons between Cambrian Lagerstätten assemblages using multivariate, parsimony and Bayesian methods. Gondwana Research, 55, 30–41.

    Laurie, J.R., Kruse, P.D., García-Bellido, D.C. & Holmes, J.D. (eds), 2016. Palaeo Down Under 2, Adelaide, 11-15 July 2016. Geological Society of Australia Abstracts No. 117.

    Lee, M.S.Y., Palci, A., Jones, M.E.H., Caldwell, M.W., Holmes, J.D. & Reisz, R.R., 2016. Aquatic adaptations in the four limbs of the snake-like reptile Tetrapodophis from the Lower Cretaceous of Brazil. Cretaceous Research, 66, 1–6.



    Holmes, J.D., Paterson, J.R. & García-Bellido, D.C. 2018. Exceptional preservation of Redlichia from the Emu Bay Shale, South Australia, including a giant new species. Oral presented at the International Conference on Ediacaran and Cambrian Sciences (ICECS), Xi'an (China), 12-16th August, 2018.

    Reid, L.M, Holmes, J.D., Payne, J.L., García-Bellido, D.C. & Jago, J.B. 2018. Spatial turnover along a gradient in Ediacaran seafloor environments from the Flinders Ranges, South Australia. Oral presented by JDH at the International Conference on Ediacaran and Cambrian Sciences (ICECS), Xi'an (China), 12-16th August, 2018.

    Holmes, J.D., García-Bellido, D.C. & Lee, M.S.Y., 2017. Assemblage relationships between Burgess Shale-type biotas in space and time. Poster presented at the International Symposium for the Ediacaran-Cambrian Transition (ISECT), St Johns (Canada), 15-29th June, 2017.

    Holmes, J.D., García-Bellido, D.C. & Lee, M.S.Y., 2016. Assemblage relationships between Cambrian Lagerstätten and their palaeobiogeographic implications. Oral presented at Palaeo Down Under 2 (PDU2) conference, Adelaide, 11-15th July, 2016.

    Holmes, J.D., García-Bellido, D.C. & Lee, M.S.Y., 2015. The Emu Bay Shale biota: palaeobiogeographical relationships with other Cambrian lagerstätten. Oral presented by DGB at Rise of Animal Life (RALI) meeting, Marrakesh, 5-10th October, 2015.

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Entry last updated: Tuesday, 4 Jun 2019