Dr Daniel Thomas staff profile picture

Contact details +64 (09) 414 0800  ext. 43595

Dr Daniel Thomas PhD, BSc(Hons 1st Class) Geol, BSc(Hons 1st Class) Zool

Senior Lecturer in Zoology (Vertebrate)

Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences

I am an ornithologist and an applied chemist with a deep interest in evolutionary biology. I have followed my interests from New Zealand to South Africa and on the the United States, and I have studied modern and fossil birds, as well as ancient humans, dinosaurs and other groups. I am particularly interested in ancient events that have driven bird evolution. Birds have deep scientific and cultural importance for New Zealand and several species are high priorities for conservation. Exploring the evolutionary origins of New Zealand birds is the priority of my research at Massey University.


Contact details

  • Location: 5.11, Building 5
    Campus: Albany


  • Doctorate - University of Otago (2009)
  • Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Geology - University of Otago (2005)
  • Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours in Zoology - University of Otago (2005)

Research Expertise

Research Interests

Vertebrate Biology (060809)

Analytical Chemistry (030100)

Palaeontology (incl. Palynology) (040308)


Resource Development and Management

Area of Expertise

Field of research codes
Analytical Chemistry (030100):
Biological Sciences (060000):
Chemical Science (030000):
Earth Sciences (040000): Geology (040300): Palaeontology (incl. Palynology) (040308):
Vertebrate Biology (060809): Zoology (060800)



Feather pigmentation

Raman spectroscopy

Vertebrate paleontology

Research Projects

Summary of Research Projects

Position Current Completed
Project Leader 3 2

Current Projects

Project Title: O tatou tamariki, nga Kaitiaki Taiao. Our children, our environmental guardians (Unlocking Curious Minds)

Date Range: 2017 - 2017

Funding Body: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Project Team:

Research Outputs


Thomas, DB., Hiscox, JD., Dixon, BJ., & Potgieter, J. (2016). 3D scanning and printing skeletal tissues for anatomy education. Journal of Anatomy. 229(3), 473-481
[Journal article]Authored by: Potgieter, J., Thomas, D.
Thomas, DB. (2014). Ancient origins and multiple appearances of carotenoid-pigmented feathers in birds. Proceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society. 281(1788), 20140806
[Journal article]Authored by: Thomas, D.
Thomas, DB., Nascimbene, PC., Dove, CJ., Grimaldi, DA., & James, HF. (2014). Seeking carotenoid pigments in amber-preserved fossil feathers. Scientific Reports. 4
[Journal article]Authored by: Thomas, D.
France, CAM., Thomas, DB., Doney, CR., & Madden, O. (2014). FT-Raman spectroscopy as a method for screening collagen diagenesis in bone. Journal of Archaeological Science. 42(1), 346-355
[Journal article]Authored by: Thomas, D.
Thomas, DB., Fordyce, RE., & Gordon, KC. (2013). Evidence for a krill-rich diet from non-destructive analyses of penguin bone. Journal of Avian Biology. 44(2), 203-207
[Journal article]Authored by: Thomas, D.
Chinsamy, A., Thomas, DB., Tumarkin-Deratzian, AR., & Fiorillo, AR. (2012). Hadrosaurs Were Perennial Polar Residents. Anatomical Record. 295(4), 610-614
[Journal article]Authored by: Thomas, D.
Thomas, DB., & Fordyce, RE. (2012). Biological Plasticity in Penguin Heat-Retention Structures. Anatomical Record. 295(2), 249-256
[Journal article]Authored by: Thomas, D.
Thomas, DB., McGoverin, CM., Fordyce, RE., Frew, RD., & Gordon, KC. (2011). Raman spectroscopy of fossil bioapatite - A proxy for diagenetic alteration of the oxygen isotope composition. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 310(1-2), 62-70
[Journal article]Authored by: Thomas, D.
Thomas, DB., & Schallenberg, M. (2008). Benthic shear stress gradient defines three mutually exclusive modes of non-biological internal nutrient loading in shallow lakes. Hydrobiologia. 610(1), 1-11
[Journal article]Authored by: Thomas, D.

Supervision and Teaching

Summary of Doctoral Supervision

Position Current Completed
CoSupervisor 1 0


Teaching Contributions

Current Doctoral Supervision

CoSupervisor of:

  • Wesley Webb - PhD
    Cultural evolution of song diversity in New Zealand bellbird (Anthornis melanura)

Media and Links


  • 30 May 2014 - Online
    Smithsonian Science: Carotenoids in feathers
  • 28 Nov 2015 - Radio
    Fossil find reveals new giant penguin
    Radio New Zealand interview
  • 28 Nov 2014 - Newspaper
    Ancient penguin was a giant of NZ birdlife
    New Zealand Herald interview
  • 22 Apr 2013 - Online
    Smithsonian Science: Yellow Penguin Feathers
  • 11 Sep 2014 - Newspaper
    Rare penguin fossil gets 3D scanning treatment
    Waikato Times interview

Other Links

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