Michael D. Gottfried

Associate Professor

Ph.D., University of Kansas, 1991

303 MSU Museum
Office Telephone: 517-432-5480

Vertebrate Paleontology, Evolutionary Biology

My research interests focus on the fossil record and systematic interrelationships of sharks, particularly Great White Sharks and their close relatives, and on the evolutionary biogeography of Madagascar’s unique vertebrate fauna with emphasis on the island’s Cretaceous fishes and sharks. I have also studied “palaeoniscoids,” a primitive group of Paleozoic fishes crucial to understanding the early evolution of the now-dominant ray-finned fishes.

One current project involves looking at developmental changes in tooth morphology in living sharks and the implications of these changes for studies on fossil sharks. A colleague in New Zealand and I found that the teeth of Great Whites and other related shark species (including teeth that form and are shed in utero) change dramatically in shape, not just size, as the sharks develop. Teeth from different stages of a single species can closely resemble teeth from a variety of quite distantly related sharks, a problem for paleontologists because the shark fossil record is dominated by isolated teeth. I will be expanding this study to include additional shark species, fossil and living, while continuing with other fossil shark projects and further work on the evolutionary history of Madagascar’s fish fauna.

Representative Publications

Gottfried, M.D. and J.A. Rabarison. 1997. First Mesozoic Gondwanan record of a sawshark (Chondrichthyes: Pristiophoriformes), from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 17(4): 763-764.

Gottfried, M.D., L.J.V. Compagno, and S.C. Bowman. 1996. Size and skeletal anatomy of the giant “megatooth” shark Carcharodon megalodon. In A. Klimly and D. Ainley, eds., Great White Sharks, the Biology of Carcharodon carcharias. Academic Press, San Diego.

Gottfried, M.D. 1995. Miocene basking sharks (Lamniformes: Cetorhinidae) from the Chesapeake Group of Virginia and Maryland. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 15(2): 443-447.

Gottfried, M.D. 1994. A subadult “palaeoniscoid” from the Upper Carboniferous of Kansas. Pollichia (Proceedings of the Pfalz Museum fur Naturkunde) 29: 103-112.

Gottfried, M.D. 1993. Functional morphology of the feeding mechanism in a primitive palaeoniscoid-grade actinopterygian fish. Academia I: 151-159.