Dr James Neenan


Email: james.neenan@oum.ox.ac.uk 
Phone: +44 (0)1865 272995
College profile page: Junior Research Fellow, St Cross College
Twitter: @JamesNeenan
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Research summary

Dr Neenan’s research mostly concerns the evolution of the inner ear in both extinct and living vertebrates. The inner ear, which contains the organ of balance and orientation, is a useful structure that can inform us about how an animal may have moved and interacted with its environment. Using cutting-edge X-ray scanning, 3D visualisation and biomechanical modelling techniques, Dr Neenan is interested in how the inner ear evolves when tetrapods transition to completely different lifestyles, particularly from terrestrial to aquatic habitats.

Related research interests include the anatomy, evolution and palaeoecology of extinct marine reptiles and dinosaurs.


James Neenan is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, co-funded by the John Fell Fund. Prior to this, James was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, where he studied inner ear evolution and growth in dinosaurs.

James obtained a BSc (Hons) in Palaeobiology from University College London, followed by an MSc in Palaeobiology at the University of Bristol. He conducted his doctoral work at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, where he studied the anatomy, evolution and palaeoecology of placodont marine reptiles. This was followed by a Swiss National Science Foundation Early Postdoc Mobility Fellowship at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History.

Featured publications

  • Ontogeny of the Massospondylus labyrinth: implications for locomotory shifts in a basal sauropodomorph dinosaur

    Neenan, JM, Chapelle, KEJ, Fernandez, V, Choiniere, JN
  • Evolution of the sauropterygian labyrinth with increasingly pelagic lifestyles

    Neenan, JM, Reich, T, Evers, SW, Druckenmiller, PS, Voeten, DFAE, Choiniere, JN, Barrett, PM, Pierce, SE, Benson, RBJ
  • The cranial anatomy of Chinese placodonts and the phylogeny of Placodontia (Diapsida: Sauropterygia)

    Neenan, JM, Li, C, Rieppel, O, Scheyer, TM
  • Feeding biomechanics in Acanthostega and across the fish-tetrapod transition.

    Neenan, JM, Ruta, M, Clack, JA, Rayfield, EJ
  • European origin of placodont marine reptiles and the evolution of crushing dentition in Placodontia.

    Neenan, JM, Klein, N, Scheyer, TM
  • More