Dr Lorna Steel

Lorna Steel
  • Curator
  • Earth Sciences department
  • Vertebrates and Anthropology Palaeobiology
Natural History Museum
Cromwell Road


Employment history

2006 - present: Curator (Natural History Museum)

2006 - 2006: Museum Assistant (Newport Roman Villa)

2004 - 2006: Assistant Curator (Dinosaur Isle Museum)

2000 - 2004: Education Officer (Dinosaur Isle Museum)

1998 - 2000: Education Assistant (Museum of Isle of Wight Geology)

1996 - 1997: University of Portsmouth



1997 - 2004: PhD "Studies in pterosaur bone palaeohistology" (University of Portsmouth)

1995 - 1996: MSc Vertebrate Palaeontology (UCL)

1992 - 1995: BSc Biology, Hons. (University of Derby)

1990 - 1992: A-levels: Biology, Psychology, Fine Art (South East Derbyshire College)


Photographing Archaeopteryx

A visiting researcher and museum photographer studying Archaeopteryx.


Fossil reptiles, birds and amphibians.


Special projects

Pterosaur collections; storage improvements and databasing.

Crocodile collections; storage improvements and databasing.

Type and figured specimens.


Twilight Cave

Twilight Cave, a lava tube in Mauritius. © Steve Bourne

Research Interests

  • cave development
  • caves as palaeontological sites
  • the palaeoecology of the Mascarene Islands
  • bone histology
  • pterosaur palaeobiology
  • crocodylomorph palaeobiology

Other Duties

Pest monitoring

I identify and record insects on sticky traps throughout the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors of the Palaeontology Department. This is done monthly. The numbers of insects are recorded so that we can recognise an outbreak of pest species, such as beetle larvae or booklice, which might threaten our collections or our paper records. Some insects do not damage museum collections, but they are early indicators of damp or gaps in the building.

Tea and biscuit cupboard keyholder

This is probably the most important job in the whole museum. We can't function without tea, coffee and biscuits!

Fire marshal

In the event of a fire, it is my job to get everyone on the 2nd floor out of the building.


This publications list does not include SVPCA / SVP / EAVP conference abstracts.



Steel, L. The pterosaur collection at the Natural History Museum, London, UK: an overview and list of specimens, with description of recent curatorial developments. Acta Geologica Sinica (English Edition) 86 (6): 1340-1355. DOI: 10.1111/1755-6724.12004 | Request reprint


Steel, L. The pterosaur collection at the Natural History Museum, London, UK: history, overview, recent curatorial developments and exciting new finds. Acta Geoscientica Sinica 31 (suppl. 1): 1-2. DOI: 10.1111/1755-6724.12004Full PDF


Steel, L. The palaeohistology of pterosaur bone: an overview. In: Hone, D. W. E. & Buffetaut, E. (eds) Flugsaurier: pterosaur papers in honour of Peter Wellnhofer. Zitteliana B28 109-125. 
Full PDF


Steel, L., Martill, D. M., Unwin, D. M. & Winch, J. D. A new pterodactyloid pterosaur from the Wessex Formation (Lower Cretaceous) of the Isle of Wight, England. Cretaceous Research 26: 686-698. DOI:10.1016/j.cretres.2005.03.005 | Full PDF


Steel, L. Studies on the palaeohistology of pterosaur bone. PhD thesis, University of Portsmouth, UK. 


Steel, L. The John Quekett sections and the earliest pterosaur histological studies. In: Buffetaut, E. & Mazin, J-M. (eds) Evolution and Palaeobiology of Pterosaurs. Geological Society, London, Special Publications 217: 325-334. DOI:10.1144/GSL.SP.2003.217.01.20 | Full pdf


Steel, L. Pterosaur bone histology: a reinterpretation of some of the earliest histological sections. In: Two hundred years of pterosaurs. Strata, Série 1 11: 90-91.


Steel, L., Martill, D.M., Kirk, J.R.J., Anders, A., Loveridge, R.F., Frey, E. & Martin, J.G.  Arambourgiania philadelphiae: giant wings in small halls. Geological Curator 6 (8): 305-313. Full PDF


In press:

Foffa, D., Young, M. T. & Steel, L. (201X). The cranial osteology of Tyrannoneustes lythrodectikos (Crocodylomorpha: Metriorhynchidae) from the Middle Jurassic of Europe. PeerJ.

Young, M. T., Steel, L., Foffa, D., Humphrey, S. & Price, T. (201X) Metriorhynchid crocodylomorphs from the ?Aptian-?Albian (Early Cretaceous) of England: new insights into metriorhynchid evolution and extinction. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Young, M.T., Beatty, B.L., Brusatte, S.L., and Steel, L. (201X) First evidence of denticulated dentition in teleosaurid crocodylomorphs. Acta Palaeontologica PolonicaDOI:10.4202/app.00002.2013 | Full PDF


Young, M. T., Steel, L., Rigby, M. P., Howlett, E. A. & Humphrey, S. Largest known specimen of the genus Dakosaurus (Metriorhynchidae: Geosaurini) from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Late Jurassic) of England, and an overview of Dakosaurus specimens discovered from this formation (including reworked specimens from the Woburn Sands Formation). Historical Biology: An International Journal of Paleobiology. DOI: 10.1080/08912963.2014.915822

Young, M. T., Andrade, M. B., Corneé, J-J., Steel, L. & Foffa, D. Re-description of a putative Early Cretaceous “teleosaurid” from France, with implications for the survival of metriorhynchids and teleosaurids across the Jurassic-Cretaceous boundary. Annales de Paléontologie.


Young, M. T., Steel, L. & Middleton, H. Evidence of the metriorhynchid crocodylomorph genus Geosaurus in the Lower Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Late Jurassic) of England. Historical Biology. DOI:10.1080/08912963.2013.801468 | Full PDF

Young, M. T. & Steel, L. Evidence for the teleosaurid crocodylomorph genus Machimosaurus in the Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Late Jurassic) of England. Historical Biology. DOI:10.1080/08912963.2013.793320 | Full PDF


Young, M. T., Brusatte, S. L., Andrade, M. B., Desojo, J. B., Beatty, B. L., Steel, L., Fernández, M. S., Sakamoto, M.,  Ruiz-Omeñaca, J. I. & Schoch, R. R. The cranial osteology and feeding ecology of the metriorhynchid crocodylomorph genera Dakosaurus and Plesiosuchus from the Late Jurassic of Europe. PLOS ONE 7 (9): e44985. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044985

Rodrigues (Indian Ocean) caves and palaeoecology

In press:

Burney, D.A. Hume, J.P., Middleton, G., Steel, L., Pigott Burney, L., Porch, N. (201X) Stratigraphy and chronology of karst features on Rodrigues Island, SW Indian Ocean. Journal of Cave and Karst Studies.


Hume, J. P., Steel, L., André, A. A. & Meunier, A. In the footsteps of the bone collectors: nineteenth century cave exploration on Rodrigues Island, Indian Ocean. Historical Biology. DOI:10.1080/08912963.2014.886203 | Full PDF


Hume, J. P. & Steel, L. Fight club: a unique weapon in the wing of the solitaire, Pezophaps solitaria (Aves: Columbidae), an extinct flightless bird from Rodrigues, Mascarene Islands. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 110 (1): 32-44. DOI: 10.1111/bij.12087 | Full PDF (2.1 MB)


Steel, L. Bones, beer and a fear of ladders. The Independent (Independent Traveller), Saturday 21st May 2011, p. 11.