Professor PITTMAN Michael


(Office): Rm 503C, Mong Man Wai Building, CUHK
(Lab): Rm 507D, Mong Man Wai Building, CUHK

  M Pittman


(Office): (852) 3943 7533
(Lab): (852) 3943 5032

Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  


PhD in Palaeobiology, University College London (UCL), U.K.
MSc in Geoscience (Palaeobiology), UCL, U.K.
2006 BSc in Geology, UCL, U.K.


  • 2022-present   Assistant Professor, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • 2021-present   Research Associate, Department of Earth Sciences, University College London, U.K.
  • 2021-present   Research Associate, Unidad Ejecutora Lillo, CONICET, Tucumán, Argentina
  • 2021-present   Research Associate, Paleontological Museum Egidio Feruglio, Trelew, Argentina
  • 2017-present   Research Associate, Foundation for Scientific Advancement, Sierra Vista, U.S.A.
  • 2022-present   Honorary Assistant Professor, Department of Earth Sciences, HKU
  • 2013-2022       Research Assistant Professor & Assistant Dean, Department of Earth Sciences, HKU

Research Interests

  • Dinosaur-to-bird transition - feathered dinosaur anatomy, systematics, biology and evolution especially:
    • Soft anatomy
    • Early flight development
    • Feeding, diet and ecology
  • Other dinosaur biology and evolution
  • Lagerstätten & fossilised soft tissues - imaging, geochemistry and palaeobiology

 Representative Publications

  1. Pittman, M., Enriquez, N.J., Bell, P.R., Kaye, T.G. & Upchurch, P. 2022. Newly detected skin data from historic sauropod Haestasaurus and review of sauropod skin morphology suggests Early Jurassic origin of skin papillae. Communications Biology, 5:122 
  2. Pittman, M., Barlow, L.A., Kaye, T.G. & Habib, M.B. 2021. Pterosaurs evolved advanced aerodynamic smoothing of the wing-body junction and sophisticated wing base control to improve flight performance. PNAS, 118(44): e2107631118 [cover issue]
  3. Pittman, M. & Xu, X. (editors). 2020. Pennaraptoran theropod dinosaurs: past progress & new frontiers. Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, 440: 353pp
  4. Pei, R.*, Pittman, M.*, Goloboff, P.A., Dececchi, T.A., Habib, M.B., Kaye, T.G., Larsson, H.C.E., Norell, M.A., Brusatte, S.L. & Xu, X. 2020. Potential for powered flight neared by most close avialan relatives, but few crossed its thresholds. Current Biology, 30(2): 4033-4046.e8 [*joint-first and corresponding author; cover issue]
  5. Kaye, T.G.* & Pittman, M.*. 2020. Fluorescence-based detection of field targets using an autonomous unmanned aerial vehicle system. Methods in Ecology and Evolution, 11(8): 890-898 [joint-corresponding author; cover issue]
  6. Goloboff, P.A., Pittman, M., Pol, D. & Xu, X. 2018. Morphological datasets fit a common mechanism much more poorly than DNA Sequences and call into question the Mkv Model. Systematic Biology, syy077.
  7. Wang, X.L.*, Pittman, M.*, Zheng, X.T., Kaye, T., Falk, A., Hartman, S. & Xu, X. Basal paravian functional anatomy illuminated by high-detail body outline. Nature Communications, 8: 14576 [*joint first-author and corresponding author]
  8. Xu, X.*, Currie, P.*, Pittman, M.*, Xing, L.D., Meng, Q.J., Lü, J.C., Dong, H.Y. & Yu, C.Y. 2017. Mosaic evolution in an asymmetrically feathered troodontid dinosaur with transitional features. Nature Communications, 8: 14972. [*joint first-author]
  9. Pittman, M., Gatesy, S.M., Upchurch, P., Goswami, A. & Hutchinson, J.R. 2013. Shake a tail feather: the evolution of the theropod tail into a stiff aerodynamic surface. PLOS ONE, 8: e63115.
  10. Xu, X., Sullivan, C., Pittman, M., Choiniere, J., Hone, D.W.E., Upchurch, P., Tan, Q.Q., Xiao, D. & Tan, L. 2011. A monodactyl non-avian dinosaur and the complex evolution of alvarezsauroid hand. PNAS, 108(6): 2338-2342.

Research Grants

  • 2021-2023, Research Grants Council (RGC) General Research Fund (GRF, Quantitative investigation of the diet of enantiornithines, the most diverse Mesozoic birds, $686,232
  • 2021-2022, University Grants Council (of Hong Kong) Special Grant for Strategic Development of Virtual Teaching and Learning, $1,000,000
  • 2020-2022, RGC GRF, Functional anatomy of the external and internal soft tissues of the wing of the gliding dinosaur Microraptor and the pteryology of its 'hindwing', $673,488
  • 2016-2022, The University of Hong Kong (HKU) Vice-President & Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching & Learning) Office, $1,000,000
  • 2015-2017, RGC GRF, Reassessing dromaeosaurid evolutionary relationships and understanding of dromaeosaurid evolutionary novelties, $ 416,850
  • 2015-2017, HKU University Research Committee PDF Scheme, $300,000
  • 2014-2016, University Development Fund, HKU Vice-Chancellor’s Office, $7,000,000
  • 2013-22, Private Funding, $510,000


  • Award for Teaching Innovation in E-Learning, Faculty of Science, HKU
  • 2018 finalist for edX Prize for Exceptional Contributions in Online Teaching and Learning

Professional Activities

Others (Research-related news and Interviews)

  • UK Advance HE Fellowship (D2)
  • UK Advance HE Senior Fellowship (D3)
  • Museum and exhibition consultant
  • Public speaker in outreach events
  • Member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Palaeontological Association, Royal Geographical Society and Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology
  • Fellow of the Geological Society of London and Willi Henning Society
  • Instructor of edX MOOC Dinosaur Ecosystems