Hilary is responsible for managing the museum’s collection of fossil vertebrates and plants. This includes:
Facilitating research and other visits to the collections
Developing the collections for research, display and outreach, including new acquisitions
Curation and documentation
Developing new exhibitions and displays
Her expertise and research interests are on the anatomy, taxonomy and systematics of plesiosaurs.
Hilary has a BA in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford. She completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge on plesiosaurs, carrying out collections-based research in museums around the world. She has done palaeontological fieldwork in the UK, USA and South Africa.
After her PhD, Hilary gained a Postgraduate Diploma in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester. She has worked in national, independent and university museums including the Natural History Museum, London, the Cambridge Museum of Technology, the Sedgwick Museum and the Museum of Zoology in Cambridge. She moved back to Oxford in 2013. After a short period working for NERC as a Science Programme Officer, she joined Oxford University Museum of Natural History in 2014.
Hilary has appeared on the Channel 4 series 'Walking Through Time' and BBC Four's 'Beach Live' programme, talking about plesiosaurs.
Fossils of the Kimmeridge Clay Formation Volume 2: Vertebrate palaeontology
The evolutionary history of polycotylid plesiosaurians.
Royal Society open science
Polycotylidae is a clade of plesiosaurians that appeared during the Early Cretaceous and became speciose and abundant early in the Late Cretaceous. However, this radiation is poorly understood. Thililua longicollis from the Middle Turonian of Morocco is an enigmatic taxon possessing an atypically long neck and, as originally reported, a series of unusual cranial features that cause unstable phylogenetic relationships for polycotylids. We reinterpret the holotype specimen of Thililua longicollis and clarify its cranial anatomy. Thililua longicollis possesses an extensive, foramina-bearing jugal, a premaxilla-parietal contact and carinated teeth. Phylogenetic analyses of a new cladistic dataset based on first-hand observation of most polycotylids recover Thililua and Mauriciosaurus as successive lineages at the base of the earliest Late Cretaceous polycotyline radiation. A new dataset summarizing the Bauplan of polycotylids reveals that their radiation produced an early burst of disparity during the Cenomanian-Turonian interval, with marked plasticity in relative neck length, but this did not arise as an ecological release following the extinction of ichthyosaurs and pliosaurids. This disparity vanished during and after the Turonian, which is consistent with a model of 'early experimentation/late constraint'. Two polycotylid clades, Occultonectia clade nov. and Polycotylinae, survived up to the Maastrichtian, but with low diversity.
A new leptocleidid (Sauropterygia, Plesiosauria) from the Vectis Formation (Early Barremian-early Aptian; Early Cretaceous) of the Isle of Wight and the evolution of Leptocleididae, a controversial clade
A giant pliosaurid skull from the late Jurassic of England.
Pliosaurids were a long-lived and cosmopolitan group of marine predators that spanned 110 million years and occupied the upper tiers of marine ecosystems from the Middle Jurassic until the early Late Cretaceous. A well-preserved giant pliosaurid skull from the Late Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay Formation of Dorset, United Kingdom, represents a new species, Pliosaurus kevani. This specimen is described in detail, and the taxonomy and systematics of Late Jurassic pliosaurids is revised. We name two additional new species, Pliosaurus carpenteri and Pliosaurus westburyensis, based on previously described relatively complete, well-preserved remains. Most or all Late Jurassic pliosaurids represent a globally distributed monophyletic group (the genus Pliosaurus, excluding 'Pliosaurus' andrewsi). Despite its high species diversity, and geographically widespread, temporally extensive occurrence, Pliosaurus shows relatively less morphological and ecological variation than is seen in earlier, multi-genus pliosaurid assemblages such as that of the Middle Jurassic Oxford Clay Formation. It also shows less ecological variation than the pliosaurid-like Cretaceous clade Polycotylidae. Species of Pliosaurus had robust skulls, large body sizes (with skull lengths of 1.7-2.1 metres), and trihedral or subtrihedral teeth suggesting macropredaceous habits. Our data support a trend of decreasing length of the mandibular symphysis through Late Jurassic time, as previously suggested. This may be correlated with increasing adaptation to feeding on large prey. Maximum body size of pliosaurids increased from their first appearance in the Early Jurassic until the Early Cretaceous (skull lengths up to 2360 mm). However, some reduction occurred before their final extinction in the early Late Cretaceous (skull lengths up to 1750 mm).
Animals, Body Size, Dinosaurs, England, Fossils, Geography, Paleontology, Phylogeny, Skull
A new pliosaurid (Sauropterygia, Plesiosauria) from the Oxford Clay Formation (Middle Jurassic., Callovian) of England: Evidence for a gracile, longirostrine grade of Early-Middle Jurassic pliosaurids