Autobiography (Through May 2009)
My research interests are the morphology and systematics of turtles, primarily as seen in the fossil record. Turtles are a good group for phylogenetic problems: they have a long history with a diverse fossil record and a good sampling of living taxa that allow for accurate identification of structures. I became an early proponent of phylogenetic systematics due to the influence of Gary Nelson and Bobb Schaeffer in the late 1960s, and I was very fortunate to be present during the development of cladistics at one of its primary centers, the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH). Although most of my publications consist of the documentation and analysis of morphology, I think that my main scientific achievement has been the increase of phylogenetic knowledge of turtles using cladistic methodology. I never had an overall plan, but in retrospect my research reveals an accidentally sensible pattern. After doing a general treatise on turtle skull morphology (Gaffney 1979), I concentrated on the earliest turtles (Triassic and Jurassic) and the largest group of turtles, the cryptodires. I have devoted the past decade to the other main clade, the pleurodires.