Dr.  Rachel Racicot, PhD
Fachbereichsleiterin Evolution of Sensory Systems

Current Positions

Head of Section in Messel Research, Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, September 2023–present

Affiliate Faculty, Department of Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Sciences, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, May 2021–present

Research Associate, Vertebrate Paleontology and The Dinosaur Institute, Natural History

Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA, July 2017–present

Research Associate, Vertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC, November 2018–present


Prior Positions

Research Assistant Professor, Vanderbilt University, August 2020–August 2023

Senior Lecturer, Vanderbilt University, August 2021–August 2023

Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow, October 2019­–July 2021

Visiting Assistant Professor of Biology, W.M. Keck Science Department, Claremont McKenna, Pitzer, and Scripps Colleges, Claremont, CA, July 2018–July 2019

Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, July 2017–June 2018

Postdoctoral Research Scientist, The Dinosaur Institute, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles, CA, October 2015–July 2017

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Howard University, Washington, DC, 2014–2015

Degrees Earned

PhD Vertebrate Paleontology, Yale University, 2008–2014 Dissertation title: “What goes on inside the heads of porpoises?: Internal anatomy in fossil and Recent porpoises based on CT scans” (PhD supervisor: Jacques Gauthier)

MPhil, Yale University, 2008–2011

MS Evolutionary Biology, San Diego State University, 2004–2007 (MS supervisor: Annalisa Berta)

BS Biology: Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation, The University of Texas at Austin, 1999–2002

Publications in Peer–Reviewed Journals And Volumes (*Student authors)


Submitted/In review/In revision/In press

  1. Chochinov AV, Darroch SAF, Laflamme M, Racicot RA. (submitted) Phyllostomids (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae) have a nose for good food: digital endocasts of New World leaf-nosed bats indicate dietary preference. Journal of Morphology
  2. Sanchez-Posada C, Racicot RA, Ruf I, Krings M, Rössner GE. (in revision) The oldest platanistoid dolphin from the Paratethys realm, Romaleodelphis pollerspoeckii, gen. et sp. nov. (Miocene, Austria). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.


  1. Park T, Ekdale EG, Racicot RA, Marx FG (2023) Testing for convergent evolution in baleen whale cochleae. In Convergent Evolution. Animal Form and Function, V. Bels and A. Russell (eds). ISTE, London.


  1. Racicot RA (2022) Evolution of whale sensory ecology: frontiers in nondestructive anatomical investigations. Anatomical Record. 305: 736–752.
  1. Racicot RA, Preucil VA* (2022) Bony labyrinths of the Blackfish (Delphinidae: Globicephalinae). Marine Mammal Science. 38: 29–41.


  1. Kraatz B, Belabbas R, Fost L, Ge D, Lang M, Lopez-Torres S, Ravosa M, Racicot R, Sharp A, Sherratt E, Silcox M, Slowiak J, Winkler A, Zeinal M, Ruf I (2021) Lagomorphs as a model morphological system. Frontiers in Ecology & Evolution, Special issue „Recent Advances in the Evolution of Euarchontoglires“


  1. Galatius A, Racicot R, McGowen M, Olsen MT (2020) Evolution and diversification of delphinid skull shapes. iScience, 101543.
  2. Martins MCI*, Park T, Racicot RA, Cooper N. 2020. Intraspecific variation in the cochleae of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena)and its implications for comparative studies across odontocetes. PeerJ 8:e8916.



  1. Racicot RA, Darroch SAF, Boessenecker RW, Geisler J (2019) Evidence for convergent evolution of ultrasonic hearing in toothed whales (Cetacea: Odontoceti). Biology Letters 15: 20190083.
  2. Galatius A, Olsen MT, Steeman M, Racicot RA, Bradshaw CD, Miller LA (2019) Raising your voice: Evolution of narrow band high frequency signals in odontocetes. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 126: 213–224.


  1. Racicot RA, Darroch SAF, Kohno N. 2018. Neuroanatomy and inner ear labyrinths of the narwhal and beluga (Cetacea: Monodontidae). Journal of Anatomy 233: 421–439.
  2. Racicot RA (2018) Dolphins, porpoises, and monodontids, Evolution. In Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals (B. Würsig, J.G.M. Thewissen, and K.M. Kovacs, eds.), 3rd Ed, pp. 271–274, Academic Press/Elsevier, San Diego, CA, USA.


  1. Racicot RA (2017) Fossil secrets revealed: X–ray CT scanning and applications in paleontology. In: L. Tapanila and I.A. Rahman (eds.), Virtual Paleontology. Paleontological Society Papers 22: 21­–38.
  2. Field DJ, Boessenecker R, Racicot RA, Ásbjörnsdóttir L, Jónasson K, Hsiang A, Behlke A, Vinther J (2017) The oldest marine vertebrate fossil from the volcanic island of Iceland: A partial right whale skull from the high latitude Pliocene Tjörnes Formation. Palaeontology. 60: 141–148.


  1. Racicot RA, Gearty W*, Flynn J, Kohno N (2016) Comparative anatomy of the bony labyrinth of extant and extinct porpoises (Cetacea: Phocoenidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 119: 831–846.


  1. Hsiang AY, Field DJ, Webster TH, Behlke A, Davis MB, Racicot RA, Gauthier JA (2015) The origin of snakes: revealing the ecology, behavior, and evolutionary history of early snakes using genomics, phenomics, and the fossil record. BMC Evolutionary Biology 15:87.
  2. Ekdale EG, Racicot RA (2015) Anatomical evidence for low frequency sensitivity in the inner ear of Zygorhiza kochii (Cetacea, Basilosauridae). Journal of Anatomy 226: 22–39.


  1. Racicot RA, Rowe T (2014) Endocranial anatomy of a new fossil porpoise (Odontoceti, Phocoenidae) from the Pliocene San Diego Formation of California. Journal of Paleontology 88: 652–663. (Cover Article)
  2. Racicot RA, Deméré T, Boessenecker R, Beatty B (2014) Unique feeding morphology in a new prognathous extinct porpoise from the Pliocene of California. Current Biology 24: 774 779. (Cover Article)


  1. Racicot RA, Colbert MW (2013) Morphology and variation of porpoise (Cetacea: Phocoenidae) cranial endocasts. Anatomical Record 296: 979–992.
  2. Racicot RA, Berta A (2013) Comparative morphology of True Porpoise (Cetacea: Phocoenidae) pterygoid sinuses: Phylogenetic and Functional Implications. Journal of Morphology 274: 49–62. (Cover Article)


  1. Burns KJ, Racicot RA (2009) Molecular phylogenetics of a clade of lowland tanagers: Implications for avian participation in the Great American Interchange. The Auk 126: 635–648.


  1. Colbert MW, Racicot RA, Rowe T (2005) Anatomy of the cranial endocast of the bottlenose dolphin, Tursiops truncatus, based on HRXCT. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 12:195–207.




  1. Darroch SAF, Gibson BM, Syversen M*, Rahman IA, Racicot RA, Dunn FS, Gutarra-Diaz S, Schindler E, Wehrmann A, Laflamme M. (2022) The life and times of Pteridinium simplex. Paleobiology. DOI: 10.1017/pab.2022.2.


  1. Darroch SAF, Cribb AT*, Buatois LA, Germs GJB, Kenchington CG, Smith EF, Mocke H, O’Neil GR, Schiffbauer JD, Maloney KM, Racicot RA, Turk KA*, Gibson BM*, Almond J, Koester B*, Boag TM, Tweedt SM, Laflamme M (2020) The trace fossil record of the Nama Group, Namibia: exploring the terminal Ediacaran roots of the Cambrian explosion. Earth Science Reviews, 212, 103435.


  1. Maloney KM, Boag TH, Facciol AJ, Gibson BG, Cribb A, Koester BE, Kenchington CG, Racicot RA, Darroch SAF, Laflamme M (2020) Palaeoenvironmental analysis of Ernietta-bearing Ediacaran deposits in southern Namibia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 556, 109884.


  1. Cribb AT, Kenchington CG, Koester B, Gibson BM, Boag TH, Racicot RA, Mocke H, Laflamme M, Darroch SAF (2019) Increase in metazoan ecosystem engineering prior to the Ediacaran–Cambrian boundary in the Nama Group, Namibia. Royal Society Open Science 6:
  2. Gibson BM, Rahman I, Maloney K, Racicot RA, Mocke H, Laflamme M, Darroch SAF (2019) Gregarious suspension feeding in a modular Ediacaran organism. Science Advances 5:eaaw0260.
  3. Clark EG, Fezzaa K, Burke JE, Racicot RA, Shaw JO, Westacott S, Briggs DEG (2019) A farewell to arms: using X-ray synchrotron imaging to investigate autotomy in brittle stars. Zoomorphology


  1. Darroch SAF, Rahman IA, Gibson B, Racicot RA, Laflamme M (2017) Inference of facultative mobility in the enigmatic Ediacaran organism Parvancorina. Biology Letters 13: 20170033.


  1. Darroch SAF, Boag T, Racicot RA, Tweedt S, Mason S, Erwin DH, Laflamme M (2016) A mixed Ediacaran–metazoan assemblage from the Zaris Sub–basin, Namibia. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 459: 198–208.


  1. Rahman I, Darroch SAF, Racicot RA, Laflamme M (2015) Suspension feeding in the enigmatic Ediacaran organism Tribrachidium demonstrates complexity of Neoproterozoic ecosystems. Science Advances 1:10, e1500800.
  2. Darroch SAF, Sperling EA, Boag T, Racicot RA, Mason SJ, Morgan AS, Tweedt S, Myrow P, Johnston DT, Erwin DH, Laflamme M (2015) Biotic replacement and mass extinction of the Ediacara biota. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. 282: 20151003.


  1. Vinther J, Jell P, Kampouris G, Carney R, Racicot RA, Briggs DEG (2012) The origin of multiplacophorans – convergent evolution of Aculiferan molluscs. Palaeontology 55:1007–1019.


Publications in Preparation (draft stage with figures)

Racicot RA, Budd AF, Huang D, Smith ND. Morphological data partitions possess different levels of phylogenetic signal for the evolutionary relationships of the reef coral families Merulinidae, Montastraeidae, and Diploastraeidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia).

Kofranek A-K M, Boessenecker RW, Darroch SAF, Ruf R, Racicot RA. First porpoise fossils (Artiodactyla: Phocoenidae) from the Pliocene of South Carolina Goose Creek Formation shed light on their sensory performance and biogeography.

Racicot RA, Ruf R. Development of the brain of the Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata).


Other Publications

Racicot RA, Ruf I (2020) MicroCT scans of an iodine stained prenatal rabbit.

Palaeontology [online] editorial board (2018) Perspectives – Palaeontology in 2017. Palaeontology [online], Volume 7, Article 12, 1–14.

Palaeontology [online] team (2016) Perspectives: 2015 in Palaeontology. Palaeontology[online], Volume 6, Article 1, 1–6.

Racicot RA (2014) Fossil Focus: Porpoises. Palaeontology [online], Volume 4, Article 10, 1–8.

Racicot RA and Colbert MA (2002) „Tursiops truncatus“ (online), Digital Morphology.