Dr. Pittman, Michael

Dinosaur Ecosystems
Profile photo of Dr. Michael Pittman

Dr. Pittman, Michael

Research Assistant Professor

I’m a multi-disciplinary vertebrate palaeontologist from HK. I earned a BSc in Geology from UCL in 2006 before progressing to an MSc in Geoscience (Palaeobiology) in 2007. I pursued a PhD on ‘The Evolution and Biomechanics of Dinosaurian Tails’ with Prof. Paul Upchurch and Prof. John R Hutchinson (RVC) completing in 2012.

My primary research interests are: (1) Dinosaur evolution, particularly avian & flight origins, (2) Laser-based fossil imaging, and (3) Evolutionary biomechanics of vertebrates, especially of dinosaurs. Much of my work focuses on Chinese feathered dinosaurs (e.g. Anchiornis and Jianianhualong) as well as fieldwork localities in Inner Mongolia (e.g. Linheraptor) and Xinjiang.

I lead HKU's Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory which includes four PhD students, a number of undergraduate and Master's students as well as research associates including Honorary Professor Prof. Xu Xing (IVPP, China). I produced and teach HKU's free online course Dinosaur Ecosystems, a finalist for the 2018 edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning

Talented prospective students and postdoctoral fellows with shared research interests are welcome to enquire about opportunities in my lab.

3917 7840
HOC304 Vertebrate Palaeontology Laboratory
ResearchGate / Google Scholar / ORCiD / @PalaeoPittman / Facebook / HK Geopark articles


EASC3402    Petrology (with Profs. Guochun Zhao & Min Sun)
HKU MOOC   Dinosaur Ecosystems (with Prof. Xu Xing)                                                            Second edition starts Oct 4th 2018: enrol here; Facebook  Twitter                                                     First edition statistics: 10,000+ students from 120+ countries; max 5* rating; finalist of 2018 edX Prize

Selected Publications

  1. 2017     Xu, X.*, Currie, P.*, Pittman, M.*, Xing, L.D., Meng, Q.J., Lü, J.C., Hu, D.Y. & Yu, C.Y. Mosaic evolution in an asymmetrically feathered troodontid dinosaur with transitional features. Nature Communications, 8: 14972 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14972 (HKU press release; IF: 11.33; *joint-first-authors)
  2. 2017     Wang, X.L.*, Pittman, M.*, Zheng, X.T., Kaye, T.G., Falk, A.R., Hartman, S.A. & Xu. X. Basal paravian functional anatomy illuminated by high-detail body outline. Nature Communications, 8: 14576 DOI: 10.1038/ncomms14576 (HKU press release; IF: 11.33; *joint-first-authors)
  3. 2016     Vinther, J., Nicholls, R., Lautenschlager, S., Pittman, M., Kaye, T.G., Rayfield, E., Mayr, G., Cuthill, I.C. 2D Camouflage in an ornithischian dinosaur. Current Biology, 26(18): 2456-2462 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2016.06.065 (University of Bristol-HKU press release; IF: 9.57)  
  4. 2016     Mayr, G., Pittman, M., Saitta, E., Kaye, T.G. & Vinther, J.  Structure and homology of Psittacosaurus tail bristles. Palaeontology, 59(6): 793-802 DOI: 10.1111/pala.12257  (University of Bristol-HKU press release; IF: 2.31)
  5. 2015    Kaye, T.G., Falk, A.R., Pittman, M., Sereno, P.C., Martin, L.D., Burnham, D.A., Gong, E.P., Xu, X. & Wang, Y.N. Laser stimulated fluorescence in paleontology. PLOS ONE, 10(5): e0125923. DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0125923 (Burke Museum-HKU-University of Kansas press release; IF: 3.53)