- Columbia University, Ph.D, 1983
- Columbia University, M.Phil, 1980
- Columbia University, M.A., 1979
- Yale University, B.S., 1977
Research InterestsResearch Interests
Author of more than 125 scientific publications, Dr. Flynn's research focuses on the phylogeny and evolution of mammals and Mesozoic vertebrates, geological dating, plate tectonics, and biogeography. He is curator for the Museum’s “Extreme Mammals” traveling exhibition, curated numerous earlier exhibitions, and has contributed articles toScientific American, Natural History, andNational Geographic, provided scientific expertise for several popular science books, and been featured in numerous television and radio shows, newspapers and magazines. Dr. Flynn has led more than 50 paleontological expeditions to Chile, Perú, Colombia, Madagascar, Angola, India, and the Rocky Mountains, supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, National Geographic Society, NASA, and other organizations. In 2001 Flynn received a Guggenheim Fellowship for a year of research, writing and expeditions in South America and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2009. He is a member of the External Advisory Board for Yale's Peabody Museum, and has served the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP, the world's largest organization of professionals in this field) as President (1999-2001) and member of the Board/Executive Committee (1993-2002), and received the Joseph T. Gregory Award (2007) for service and the Alfred Sherwood Romer Prize (1982) for best student presentation from the SVP.
With a specialty in mammalian paleontology and paleomagnetism, Flynn has spent his career searching for important new fossil mammal localities, as well as developing better ways to read the age of rocks and fossils, leading to more accurate geological time scales. He has contributed to numerous public education projects (university, museum, web, and popular science), is actively pursuing research on mammalian evolution (particularly the anatomy, DNA and evolution of Carnivora and extinct relatives), has helped expand and enhance the world-leading fossil mammal collections at the American Museum, and has current field programs focusing on the Andes Mountains of Chile, Amazon Basin of Perú, and Mesozoic deposits of Madagascar and India.
On expeditions to the Andes Mountains in Chile over the past 25 years, Dr. Flynn and colleagues have discovered extremely important and rare fossil specimens, including the continent's oldest, best preserved fossil primate skull and early rodent fossils, both of which suggest an African origin for these important New World groups. These same Andean volcanic-derived deposits have produced more than a dozen new mammal faunas, spanning at least 30 million years (about 10-40 million years ago) and more than four degrees of latitude, including a new South American Land Mammal "Age" (the Tinguirirican, about 32-34 million years old) and evidence for the oldest open habitat/grassland environments found anywhere in the world. This research also yields important insights into the relationships and evolutionary history of other mammals, including a variety of groups native to South America. This work on South American faunas has included work throughout the Chilean Andes, from Patagonia to the Altiplano, as well as in the Peruvian Amazon and Colombia. Similarly, 8 expeditions to Madagascar uncovered spectacular Mesozoic fossils, from mid-late Triassic cynodonts, archosaurs, and rhynchosaurs to tiny advanced mid-Jurassic mammals representing the oldest known tribosphenic mammals. Together with doctoral students and postdoctoral scientists, Flynn's research also has focused on integrating DNA, anatomical and paleontological data in analysis of the phylogeny and diversification of major groups of mammals (including the multi-investigator “Assembling the Tree of Life- Mammalia” project), and the investigation of the evolutionary relationships and patterns and rates of evolution of the mammalian order Carnivora (e.g. cats, dogs, bears, weasels, seals, etc.) and its extinct relatives. Recent research has generated the most comprehensive DNA-based phylogeny of living Carnivora, and studies of body size and relative brain size evolution across living and fossil members of this group. Current research analyzes high-resolution CT images from the Museum’s new CT scanner. Studies underway by Flynn and colleagues of the internal structures of skulls, including the inner ear (organ of balance and orientation), are yielding new insights into the evolutionary relationships and locomotion specializations of New World Primates, endemic South American ungulates (hoofed plant-eaters), and carnivorans and their fossil relatives.
2012. M. Spaulding and J.J. Flynn. Phylogeny of the Carnivoramorpha: The impact of postcranial characters. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology,iFirst p. 1-25.
2012. J.J. Flynn, R. Charrier, D.A. Croft, and A.R. Wyss. Cenozoic Andean faunas: Shedding new light on South American mammal evolution, biogeography, environments, and tectonics. In: B.D. Patterson and L.P. Costa (eds.), Historical biogeography of Neotropical mammals, University of Chicago Press, pp. 51-75.
2011. L. Ranivoharimanana, C.F. Kammerer, J.J. Flynn, and A.R. Wyss. New material of Dadadon isaloi (Cynodontia: Traversodontidae) from the Triassic of Madagascar. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 31, no. 6, p. 1292–1302.
2011. A. Goswami, G.V.R. Prasad, P. Upchurch, D.M. Boyer, E.R. Seiffert, O. Verma, E. Gheerbrant, and J.J. Flynn. A radiation of arboreal basal eutherian mammals beginning in the Late Cretaceous of India. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, v. 108, no. 39, p. 16,333-16,338.
2011. R.W. Meredith, J.E. Janecka, J. Gatesy, O.A. Ryder, C.A. Fisher, E.C. Teeling, A. Goodbla, E. Eizirik, T.L.L. Simão, T. Stadler, D.L. Rabosky, R.L. Honeycutt, J.J. Flynn, C.M. Ingram, C. Steiner, T.L. Williams, T.J. Robinson, A. Burk, M. Westerman, N.A. Ayoub, M.S. Springer, and W.J. Murphy. Impacts of the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution and KPg extinction on extant mammal diversification. Science, v. 334, p. 521-524.
2010. X. Ni, J.J. Flynn, and A.R. Wyss. The bony labyrinth of the early platyrrhine primate Chilecebus. Journal of Human Evolution, vol. 59, p. 595-607.
2010. J.J. Flynn, J.A. Finarelli, and M. Spaulding. Phylogeny of the Carnivora and Carnivoramorpha, and the use of the fossil record to enhance understanding of evolutionary transformations. In: A. Goswami and A. Friscia (eds.), Carnivoran Evolution: New Views on Phylogeny, Form, and Function, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 25-63.
2010. J.J. Flynn, S. Nesbitt, J.M. Parrish, L. Ranivoharimanana, and A.R. Wyss. A new species of Azendohsaurus (Diapsida: Archosauromorpha) from the Triassic Isalo Group of southwestern Madagascar: Cranium and mandible. Palaeontology, v. 53, part 3, p. 669-688.
2009. J.A. Finarelli and J.J. Flynn. Brain-size evolution and sociality in Carnivora. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, v. 106, no. 23, p. 9345-9349.
2008. J.J. Flynn, R. Charrier, D.A. Croft, P.B. Gans, T.M. Herriott, J.A. Wertheim, and A.R. Wyss. Chronologic implications of new Miocene mammals from the Cura-Mallín and Trapa Trapa Formations, Laguna del Laja area, south central Chile. Journal of South American Earth Sciences, v. 26, p. 412-423.
Teaching ExperienceTeaching Experience
- Adjunct Professor (voting), Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Columbia University, 2005-present
- Adjunct Professor (voting), Departments of Biology and Earth and Environmental Sciences, City University of New York, 2005-present
- Resource Faculty, NYCEP (New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology)
- Major Events in Evolution: The Paleozoic-Mesozoic Transition, Spring 2011
- Grantsmanship, Ethics and Communication (core course), Richard Gilder Graduate School, 2008- present
- Directed Readings Course (for J. Finarelli), “Rates of evolution in Mammalia”, University of Chicago, 2003.
- Workshop and Mini-Course, “Vertebrate Paleontology and Evolution”, Universidad de Chile, 29 April- 2 May 2002.
- "Evolution: Genes to Groups" (BioSci 192 or 264 or 23270; University of Chicago, with Bill Ballard [1999, 2000] or Paul Goldstein , Spring 1999 [majors, core curriculum], Fall 2000, 2002 [majors, elective]).
- Lecturer/Workshop Leader, Divisional Course on "Scientific Integrity and Ethical Conduct of Research", for all first year graduate students in the Biological Sciences, University of Chicago, Spring 1998-2001, 2003-2004.
- "Genes, Individuals, Populations, and Groups" (NatSci), University of Chicago, Spring 1998.
- "Biological Evolution" (NatSci 104), University of Chicago, Fall 1996
- Seminar on Sedimentary Basins of the Americas" (co-taught with Susan Kidwell), University of Chicago, Spring 1995.
- "Grants, Ethics, and Professional Issues" (EvBio 401 or 40100; team taught with Jeanne Altmann, Mathew Leibold and/or Joy Bergelson), University of Chicago, Fall 1995-2000, 2002-2003.
- "Mammalian Evolution" (BioSci 260 or 23260/EvBio 31100, 311 or 411), advanced undergraduate/graduate course with laboratory, University of Chicago, Fall 1991, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003.
- "Plant and Animal Natural History"/"Diversity of Life Through Time" (BioSci 153 or 157), introductory science core course, taught (with P. Crane , S. Lidgard , G. Mueller ) two sections, University of Chicago, Spring.
- Abby West, Columbia University
- Kaori Tsukui, Columbia University
- Michelle Spaulding, Columbia University
- Andrés Giallombardo, Columbia University
- Anjali Goswami, University of Chicago
- John Finarelli, CEB, University of Chicago
- Jon Marcot, University of Chicago
- Shaena Montanari, Richard Gilder Graduate School
- Hong-yu Yi, Columbia University
- Rui Pei, Columbia University
- Steve Brusatte, Columbia University
- Sterling Nesbitt, Columbia Unviersity
- Amy Balanoff, Columbia University
- Alan Turner, Columbia University
- Aaron Hogue, Northwestern University
- Mahesh Gurung, University of Illinois- Chicago
- Link Olson, University of Chicago
- Francesca Smith, University of Chicago
15 students supervised since 1986; recent students include:
Served on 15 committees since 1985; recent committees include: