Professor Jennifer Clack FRS

Jennifer Clack was a palaeontologist whose groundbreaking work on early tetrapods — vertebrates with four limbs — solved the mystery of their transition from sea to land nearly 400 million years ago. Her work focused in particular on how tetrapods relate to their predecessors among the lobe-finned fish, and the numerous physiological changes which took place during their emergence onto land.

Jennifer’s pioneering work in the field as well as the lab improved our understanding of numerous aspects of tetrapod biology, ranging from the evolution of the skeleton to the formation of the nervous system. By shedding light on an important moment in the development of life on Earth, Jennifer helped to stimulate a renaissance in collecting and research related to the fish–tetrapod transition.

A Professor and Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the University of Cambridge, Jennifer held honorary doctorates from universities around the world and was an honorary member of both the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Swedish equivalent of the Royal Society.

Professor Jennifer Clack FRS died on 26 March 2020.

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences


  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology

    Organismal biology (including invertebrate and vertebrate zoology), Taxonomy and systematics, Evolution

Professor Jennifer Clack FRS
Elected 2009

Credit: Department of Zoology