Dr Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Institute for Analytics and Data Science)
School of Life Sciences
Dr Jennifer Hoyal Cuthill



  • PhD University of Cambridge, (2010)


University of Essex

  • Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute for Analytics and Data Science and School of Life Sciences (1/10/2019 - present)

Other academic

  • Affiliate Researcher, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Earth Life Science Institute (1/3/2018 - present)

Research and professional activities

Research interests

Biological machine learning

Developing and applying machine learning for the life sciences

Key words: machine learning
Open to supervise

Computational palaeobiology

Using computational methods to understand life's evolutionary history

Key words: Palaeobiology
Open to supervise

Quantifying evolutionary convergence

Using computational methods to understand why evolution repeats itself

Key words: machine learning
Open to supervise

Ediacaran palaeobiology and palaeoecology

Understanding the early animals of the Ediacaran geological period (from 635 to 541 million years ago).

Key words: Palaeobiology
Open to supervise

Current research

Graph theory of echinoderm skeletons

Exploring real and theoretical phenotypes using graph and network theory.

Machine learning on Heliconius butterfly phenotypes

Developing and applying spatial embedding methods for taxonomic classification, phenomic phylogenetics and analysis of mimicry evolution

Machine learning on the fossil record

Using new methods of machine learning to understand extinction and diversification in the history of life

Conferences and presentations

(Marx, Musk and) the Ediacaran Biota

Invited presentation, Open University Geological Society Annual General Meeting, Open University Geological Society Annual General Meeting, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom, 8/2/2020

Putting the AI into Palaeontology: using new methods of machine learning to capture evolutionary history

Palaeontological Association Annual Meeting, The Palaeontological Association 63rd Annual Meeting, Valencia, Spain, 20/12/2019

Faculty-track research fellowships: an interdisciplinary example

Invited presentation, Getting a lectureship for physical science postdocs, Getting a lectureship for physical science postdocs, 9/12/2019

Ediacaran origins of complex animal behaviour: trace fossil evidence from the Hoogland Member of Namibia

International Meeting on the Ediacaran System and the Ediacaran-Cambrian Transition, Guadalupe, Spain, 20/10/2019

Teaching and supervision

Current teaching responsibilities

  • Genetics and Evolution (BS102)

  • Animal Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour (BS113)


Journal articles (18)

Hoyal Cuthill, JF. and Hunter, AW., (2020). Fullerene‐like structures of Cretaceous crinoids reveal topologically limited skeletal possibilities. Palaeontology. 63 (3), 513-524

Conway Morris, S., Smith, RDA., Hoyal Cuthill, J., Bonino, E. and Lerosey-Aubril, R., (2020). A possible Cambrian stem-group gnathiferan-chaetognath from the Weeks Formation (Miaolingian) of Utah. Journal of Paleontology. 94 (4), 624-636

Hoyal Cuthill, J., Guttenberg, N. and Budd, GE., (2020). Impacts of speciation and extinction measured by an evolutionary decay clock. Nature. 588 (7839), 636-641

Han, J., Conway Morris, S., Hoyal Cuthill, JF. and Shu, D., (2019). Sclerite-bearing annelids from the lower Cambrian of South China. Scientific Reports. 9 (1), 4955-

Hoyal Cuthill, JF., Guttenberg, N., Ledger, S., Crowther, R. and Huertas, B., (2019). Deep learning on butterfly phenotypes tests evolution’s oldest mathematical model. Science Advances. 5 (8), eaaw4967-eaaw4967

Wood, R., Liu, AG., Bowyer, F., Wilby, PR., Dunn, FS., Kenchington, CG., Cuthill, JFH., Mitchell, EG. and Penny, A., (2019). Integrated records of environmental change and evolution challenge the Cambrian Explosion. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 3 (4), 528-538

Hoyal Cuthill, JF. and Han, J., (2018). Cambrian petalonamid Stromatoveris phylogenetically links Ediacaran biota to later animals. Palaeontology. 61 (6), 813-823

Shu, D., Conway Morris, S., Han, J., Hoyal Cuthill, JF., Zhang, Z., Cheng, M. and Huang, H., (2017). Multi-jawed chaetognaths from the Chengjiang Lagerstätte (Cambrian, Series 2, Stage 3) of Yunnan, China. Palaeontology. 60 (6), 763-772

Hoyal Cuthill, JF. and Conway Morris, S., (2017). Nutrient-dependent growth underpinned the Ediacaran transition to large body size. Nature Ecology and Evolution. 1 (8), 1201-1204

Hoyal Cuthill, JF., Sewell, KB., Cannon, LRG., Charleston, MA., Lawler, S., Littlewood, DTJ., Olson, PD. and Blair, D., (2016). Australian spiny mountain crayfish and their temnocephalan ectosymbionts: an ancient association on the edge of coextinction?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 283 (1831), 20160585-20160585

Hoyal Cuthill, JF., (2015). The morphological state space revisited: what do phylogenetic patterns in homoplasy tell us about the number of possible character states?. Interface Focus. 5 (6), 20150049-20150049

Hoyal Cuthill, JF. and Charleston, M., (2015). Wing patterning genes and coevolution of Müllerian mimicry inHeliconiusbutterflies: Support from phylogeography, cophylogeny, and divergence times. Evolution. 69 (12), 3082-3096

Hoyal Cuthill, J., (2015). The size of the character state space affects the occurrence and detection of homoplasy: Modelling the probability of incompatibility for unordered phylogenetic characters. Journal of Theoretical Biology. 366, 24-32

Conway Morris, S., Hoyal Cuthill, JF. and Gerber, S., (2015). Hunting Darwin's Snark: which maps shall we use?. Interface Focus. 5 (6), 20150078-20150078

Hoyal Cuthill, JF. and Conway Morris, S., (2014). Fractal branching organizations of Ediacaran rangeomorph fronds reveal a lost Proterozoic body plan. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 111 (36), 13122-13126


Hoyal Cuthill, J. and Charleston, M., (2012). Phylogenetic Codivergence Supports Coevolution of Mimetic Heliconius Butterflies. PLoS ONE. 7 (5), e36464-e36464

Cuthill, JFH., Braddy, SJ. and Donoghue, PCJ., (2010). A formula for maximum possible steps in multistate characters: isolating matrix parameter effects on measures of evolutionary convergence. Cladistics. 26 (1), 98-102

Conferences (1)

Hoyal Cuthill, J., Kenchington, C., Boag, T. and Laflamme, M., Ediacaran origins of complex animal behaviour: trace fossil evidence from the Hoogland Member of Namibia

+44 (0) 1206 873307


3SW.5.39, Colchester Campus