Lindsay Zanno

Division Head, Paleontology

121 West Jones Street, Raleigh, NC 27601


  • Ph.D. in Geology, University of Utah, 2008
  • M.S. in Geology, University of Utah, 2004
  • B.S. in Biological Anthropology, University of New Mexico, 1999


  • Assistant Research Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
  • Honorary Research Staff, Evolutionary Studies Institute, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Research Associate, Department of Geology, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, IL
  • Research Associate, Natural History Museum of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
  • Research Associate, Dept. of Marine, Earth, & Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Research Interests

  • Anatomy, phylogeny, and paleobiology of theropod dinosaurs (including birds)
  • Paleobiogeography and paleoecology of Cretaceous terrestrial ecosystems
  • Comparative phylogenetic approaches to vertebrate ecomorphology
  • Advancing visualization of fossil vertebrates

Dr. Lindsay Zanno is the Director of the Paleontology Research Laboratory at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and an Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at North Carolina State University. Dr. Zanno received her Ph.D. in Geology from the University of Utah in 2008. Although her research tackles several cornerstones of paleontology, her prime focus is unraveling complex transitions in dietary ecology and key novelties during the evolution of theropod dinosaurs—a group that includes the iconic megapredator T. rex as well as living birds.

Despite over 15 years of international fieldwork experience, Dr. Zanno has a soft spot for the American West from where she has described many new species, including Siats meekerorum, one of the largest megapredatory dinosaurs discovered on the continent. Her North American expeditions gather data on faunal dynamics during the Cretaceous—a time period bracketed by biotic turnover associated with the establishment of a transarctic land bridge and terminating with remarkably high species diversity linked to tectonic evolution of the Western Interior Basin.

Dr. Zanno’s work garners regular international media attention and has been featured extensively by notables such as the Science Channel, History Channel, NPR, and the BBC. She currently serves as Science Advocate for the Walking With Dinosaurs Arena Spectacular and coordinates several paleontology-focused citizen science projects. In 2012 she launched the real-time social media platform—Expedition Live! connecting the public with paleontologists in the field. Dr. Zanno’s published impact ranges from top science journals such as Nature to everyday Tweets, including over 71 technical works and a children’s book on the cycle of life. She is also the Executive Director of the Children’s Ptosis Foundation, a non-profit advocacy group for children with eye disorders.

For more information about Zanno Lab research and the paleobiology graduate program at NC State University at

Want to support the Paleontology Research Lab? Donate to the Paleontology Research & Expedition Fund. Gifts to this fund directly support paleontological fieldwork and research at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, under the guidance of PGL director, Dr. Lindsay Zanno.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

  • Zanno, L.E., Drymala, S., Nesbitt, S.J., Schneider, V. (2015) Early crocodylomorph increases top predator diversity during rise of dinosaurs. Scientific Reports 5:9276 doi:10.1038/srep09276
  • Zanno, L.E., Makovicky, P.J. (2013) Neovenatorid theropods are apex predators in the Late Cretaceous of North America. Nature Comm. 4: 2827. doi:10.1038/ncomms3827
  • Zanno, L.E., Makovicky, P.J. (2012) No evidence for directional evolution of body mass in herbivorous theropod dinosaurs. Proc R Soc B. 2013 280 1751 20122526; doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.2526 (published 28 November 2012) 1471-2954.
  • Zanno, L.E., Makovicky, P.J. (2011) Herbivorous ecomorphology and specialization patterns in theropod dinosaur evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U S A 108:232–237; published ahead of print December 20, 2010, doi:10.1073/pnas.1011924108.
  • Zanno, L.E., Varricchio, D.J., O’Connor, P.M., Titus, A.L., Knell, M.J. (2011) A new troodontid theropod, Talos sampsoni gen. et sp. nov., from the Upper Cretaceous Western Interior Basin of North America. PLoS ONE 6(9): e24487. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024487.
  • Zanno, L.E., Makovicky, P.J. (2011) On the earliest record of Cretaceous tyrannosauroids in western NorthAmerica: implications for an Early Cretaceous Laurasian interchange event. Historical Biology First published on: 24 February 2011 (iFirst), doi:10.1080/08912963.2010.543952.
  • Zanno, L.E. (2010) A taxonomic and phylogenetic re-evaluation of Therizinosauria. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 8:503–543.
  • Zanno, L.E., Gillette, D.D., Albright, L.B., Titus, A.L. (2009) A new North American therizinosaurid and the role of herbivory in “predatory” dinosaur evolution. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 276:3505–3511.

Fields of Research