I’m paleontologist Jingmai O’Connor
aka paleontologista aka the punk rock paleontologist. 

Using a variety of methods I study theropod dinosaurs with a focus on understanding the dinosaur-bird transition and the evolution of modern bird physiology.

Areas of expertise

Mesozoic bird phylogeny

Using cladistics I seek to build the most comprehensive character matrix of fossil birds and their closest relatives in order to better understand the dinosaur-bird transition and the Cretaceous radiation of birds. 

Fossil soft tissues

Through the study and analysis of observable Fossils preserve more than bones. Fossilized soft tissues reveal important aspects of extinct biology that can’t be gleaned from just the skeleton. Exploring methods to best study these tissues sheds light on unexpected aspects of extinct paravian biology.

Flying dinosaurs

Discoveries in the last decade have revealed that volant behavior has most likely evolved repeatedly in dinosaurs closely related to birds. The how and why that underlie this locomotor revolution represents one of the most exciting aspects of theropod paleontology.

Science needs to reach out

In an age of Science denialism and environmental crisis, research must be paired with community outreach. I am passionate about promoting diversity in STEM and igniting scientific interest in peoples of all ages through the exciting stories uncovered from spectacular fossil birds and their closest relatives.


In order to maximize the impact of scientific research and utilize the power of paleontology as a gateway science, I happily engage in outreach as opportunities arise.

In 2021, I worked together with SUE Science Saturday, Collection’s Club, Mason Elementary Career Day, FMNH Founder’s Council, Glencoe Public Library and the FMNH Dinosaur Day.

In 2020, I supported WeDigBio, Collection’s Club, FMNH Member’s Night and Pomona College “Dinosaur History Class”.

I have also been working together the Canadian International School (Beijing) and local elementary and high schools across Los Angeles.

My outreach also includes popular science articles, guest blogs (yes blogs!), responding to emails from students of all ages (go on, write me!), collections tours, and classroom visits.

Field Work

I have been lucky to participate in Field Work around the world.

American Museum of Natural History expedition in Romania

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