Thierry Smith

SMITH, Thierry

Licencié en sciences (zoologie) Docteur en sciences (géologie et minéralogie), chef de travaux principal, chef programme Évolution de la Paléobiosphère, Direction opérationnelle Terre et Histoire de la Vie, Institut royal des Sciences naturelles de Belgique.
Paléontologie; Asie (Mongolie, Chine, Inde, Indonésie), Europe de l’Est (Roumanie), Amérique du Nord (Wyoming), Afrique centrale (RD Congo).

Thierry Smith is a senior researcher in vertebrate paleontology at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS). He holds a Master degree in zoology and a PhD degree in geology and mineralogy from UCLouvain. He was a research fellow (1994-1998) at the Fund for Scientific Research (FRIA grant holder) and prize-winner of the 2000 annual examination of the Royal Academy of Belgium (Class of Sciences, question in Geology) for his PhD thesis. Since 2018, he is the head of the RBINS Paleontology service (renamed Research Program Paleobiosphere Evolution), which is one of the three research units of the Operational Directorate Earth and History of Life. Since 2013 he is also an invited lecturer for the course of Micropaleontology at the University of Namur.

Thierry Smith research topics include the origin, evolution, paleobiodiversity, paleobiogeography and biostratigraphy of early modern vertebrates, as well as the reconstruction and paleoclimate of Cretaceous and Paleogene continental ecosystems. His expertise is particularly focused on the Paleocene Eocene Thermal Maximum, one of the fastest and most intense global warming events since the dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago. This event, which happened 56 million years ago, seems to be at the origin of the rapid dispersal of the first orders of modern mammals (primates, perissodactyls, artiodactyls, rodents, whales, bats...) via land bridges, notably in Greenland and the Bering Strait. Thierry is author or co-author of more than 150 full papers in international scientific journals. He is also an editor for different scientific journals and an advisor for numerous exhibitions in Belgium and France. He leaded more than 40 international paleontological expeditions (explorations and excavations) in India, China, Romania, Wyoming, RD Congo... He is an expert in screen washing techniques on the field.


Key publications

Solé, F., Noiret, C., Desmares, D., Adnet, S., Taverne, L., De Putter, T., Mees, F., Yans, J., Steeman, T., Louwye, S., Folie, A., Stevens, N.J., Gunnell, G., Baudet, D., Kitambala Yaya, N. & Smith, T. (2019). Reassessment of historical sections from the Paleogene marine margin of the Congo Basin reveals an almost complete absence of Danian deposits. Geoscience Frontiers, 10, 1039-1063.

Smith, T., Kumar, K., Rana, R.S., Folie, A., Solé, F., Noiret, C., Steeman, T., Sahni, A. & Rose, K.D. (2016). New early Eocene vertebrate assemblage from western India reveals a mixed fauna of European and Gondwana affinities, Geoscience Frontiers, 7, 969-1001.

Smith, T. & Codrea, V. (2015). Red iron-pigmented tooth enamel in a multituberculate mammal from the Late Cretaceous Transylvanian “Haţeg Island”. PLoS ONE. 10(7):e0132550.

Rose, K.D., Holbrook, L.T., Rana, R.S., Kumar, K., Jones, K.E., Ahrens, H.E., Missiaen, P., Sahni, A. & Smith, T. (2014). Early Eocene fossils suggest that the mammalian order Perissodactyla originated in India. Nature Communications, 5(5570): 1-9.

Smith, T., Rose, K. & Gingerich, P. (2006). Rapid Asia-Europe-North America geographic dispersal of earliest Eocene primate Teilhardina during the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum. Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, 103(30): 11223-11227.