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Fellows Directory

Richard Fortey

Richard Fortey

Professor Richard Fortey OBE FRS


Elected: 1997




Richard Fortey is a palaeontologist who studies the evolution of arthropods and has a particular interest in the long-extinct marine arthropods, trilobites — one of the earliest groups of arthropods in existence. Richard is also a well-known natural history television presenter and popular science author.

Arthropods are invertebrates with an external skeleton, a segmented body and jointed appendages. Diverse and widespread, trilobites were amongst the most successful of all early animals, roaming the oceans for over 270 million years before suffering a mass extinction. Due to their ancient demise, Richard learns about trilobites from their fossilised remnants and his research has significantly furthered our understanding of invertebrate evolution.

A talented science communicator, and winner of the Royal Society’s Michael Faraday Prize, Richard has appeared in many natural history television programmes for the BBC. In 2010, he travelled with David Attenborough to the Atlas Mountains to find trilobite fossils for BBC Two’s First Life. In 1993, Richard’s book The Hidden Landscape: Journey into the Geological Past was named the Natural World Book of the Year.

Interest and expertise

Subject groups

  • Earth and environmental sciences
    • Geology
  • Organismal biology, evolution and ecology
    • Evolution
  • Other
    • Public understanding of science


Palaeontology Mycology science communication


  • Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture

    On 'A natural history of scientists'.

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