John Flynn

Frick Curator Fossil Mammals American Museum of Natural History Dean Richard Gilder Graduate School American Museum of Natural History


Ph.D. 1983, Columbia University



Tel: (212) 769-5806

Fax: (212) 769-5842

Overview of Research

Author of more than 100 scientific publications, Flynn's research focuses on the evolution of mammals and Mesozoic vertebrates, geological dating, plate tectonics, and biogeography. He also is curator for the Museum’s recently opened “Extreme Mammals” exhibit, and has contributed articles to Scientific American, Natural History, and National Geographic, provided scientific expertise for several popular science books, and been featured in numerous television and radio shows, newspapers and magazines. Dr. Flynn has led more than almost 50 paleontological expeditions to Chile, Perú, Colombia, Madagascar, Angola, India, and the Rocky Mountains, supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, NASA, and other organizations. In 2001 Flynn received a Guggenheim Fellowship for a year of research, writing and expeditions in South America. He has served as a member of the External Advisory Board for Yale's Peabody Museum, and elected President (1999-2001) and member of the Board/Executive Committee (1993-2002), as well as recipient of the Joseph T. Gregory Award (2007) and the Alfred Sherwood Romer Prize, of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the world's largest organization of professionals in this field.

With a specialty in mammalian paleontology and paleomagnetism, Flynn has spent his career searching for important new fossil mammal localities, as well as developing better ways to read the age of rocks and fossils, leading to more accurate geological time scales. He has contributed to numerous public education projects (university, museum, web, and popular science), is actively pursuing research on mammalian evolution (particularly the anatomy, DNA and evolution of Carnivora and extinct relatives), and has current field programs focusing on the Andes Mountains of Chile, Amazon Basin of Perú, and Mesozoic deposits of Madagascar and India.


Finarelli, J.S., and J.J. Flynn. 2009. Brain-size evolution and sociality in Carnivora. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106: 345-9349.

Flynn, J.J. 2009. Splendid Isolation. Natural History May: 26-32.

Croft, D.A., J.J. Flynn, and A.R. Wyss. 2008. The Tinguiririca Fauna of Chile and the early stages of “modernization” of South American mammal faunas. Arquivos do Museu Nacional, Rio de Janeiro (Brasil) 66(1): 1-21

Flynn, J.J., R. Charrier, D.A. Croft, P.B. Gans, T.M. Herriott, J.A. Wertheim, and A.R.Wyss. 2008. Chronologic implications of new Miocene mammals from the Cura-Mallín and Trapa Trapa Formations, Laguna del Laja area, south central Chile. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 26: 412-423

Kammerer, C., J.J. Flynn, L. Ranivoharimanana, and A.R. Wyss. 2008. New material of Menadon besairiei (Cynodontia: Traversodontidae) from the Triassic of Madagascar. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28: 445-462.

Sears, K.A., J.A. Finarelli, J.J. Flynn, and A.R. Wyss. 2008. Estimating body mass in New World “monkeys” (Platyrrhini, Primates), with a consideration of the Miocene platyrrhine Chilecebus carrascoensis. American Museum Novitates 3617: 1-29.

Shockey, B.J., and J.J. Flynn. 2008. Morphological diversity in the postcranial skeleton of Casamayoran (?middle to late Eocene) Notoungulata and foot posture in notoungulates. American Museum Novitates 3601: 1-26.

Croft, D.A., J.J. Flynn, and A.R. Wyss. 2007. A new basal glyptodontid and other Xenarthra of the early Miocene Chucal Fauna, northern Chile. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27: 781-797.

Finarelli, J.A., and J.J. Flynn. 2007. The evolution of encephalization in caniform carnivorans. Evolution 61: 1758-1772.

Flynn, J.J., A.R. Wyss, and R. Charrier. 2007. South America’s Missing Mammals. Scientific American, May: 68--75.

Sears, K.E., A. Goswami, J.J. Flynn, and L.A. Niswander. 2007. The correlated evolution of Runx2 tandem repeats, transcriptional activity, and facial length in Carnivora. Evolution and Development. 9: 555-565.

Antoine, P.-O., D. De Franceschi, J.J. Flynn, A. Nel, P. Baby, M. Benammi, Y. Calderón, N. Espurt, A. Goswami, and R. Salas. 2006. Western Amazonian Miocene amber with multiple organic inclusions. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 103: 13595-13600.

Burmeister, K.C., J.J. Flynn, J.M. Parrish, and A.R. Wyss. 2006. Paleogeographic and biostratigraphic implications of new early Mesozoic terrestrial vertebrate fossils from Poamay, central Morondava Basin, Madagascar. In J.D. Harris, S.G. Lucas, J.A. Spielmann, M.G. Lockley, A.R.C. Milner, and J.I. Kirkland (editors), Bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History 37: 457-475.

Croft, D.A., L.R. Heaney, J.J. Flynn, and A.P. Bautista. 2006. A new extinct, diminutive Bubalus (Artiodactyla: Bovidae: Bovini) from Cebu Island, Philippines. Journal of Mammalogy 87: 1037-1051.

Finarelli, J. A. and J.J. Flynn. 2006. Ancestral state reconstruction of body size in the Caniformia (Carnivora, Mammalia): The effects of incorporating data from the fossil record. Systematic Biology 55: 301-313.

Flynn, J.J., S. Fox, J.M. Parrish, L. Ranivoharimana, and A.R. Wyss. 2006. Assessing diversity and paleoecology of a Middle Jurassic microvertebrate assemblage from Madagascar. In J.D. Harris, S.G. Lucas, J.A. Spielmann, M.G. Lockley, A.R.C. Milner, and J.I. Kirkland (editors), Bulletin of the New Mexico Museum of Natural History 37: 476-489.

Hitz, R.H., J.J. Flynn, and A.R. Wyss. 2006. New basal Interatheriidae (Typotheria, Notoungulata, Mammalia) from the Paleogene of central Chile. American Museum Novitates 3520: 1-32.

Krause, D.W., P.M. O’Connor, A.H. Rasoamiaramanana, G.A. Buckley, D. Burney, M.T. Carrano, P.S. Chatrath, J.J. Flynn, C.A. Forster, L.R. Godfrey, W.L. Jungers, R.R.Rogers, K.E. Samonds, E.L. Simons, and A.R. Wyss. 2006. Preserving Madagascar’s natural heritage: The importance of keeping the island’s vertebrate fossils in the public domain. Madagascar Conservation & Development 1: 43-47.

McKenna, M.C., A.R. Wyss, and J.J. Flynn. 2006. Paleogene pseudoglyptodont xenarthrans from central Chile and Argentine Patagonia. American Museum Novitates 3536: 1-18.