Sylvia Hope

  • Ornithology & Mammalogy
  • PhD

The focus of my research is origin and early evolution of modern birds, based on the fossil record. Many bird groups today are distributed primarily in the Southern Hemisphere. The question is whether these distributions reflect an earlier origin in the far south or rapid differentiation of survivors following the end-Cretaceous extinctions. The question bears on the age of modern birds. Research has focused on early penguins and on Late Cretaceous birds from North America, with a goal of integrating knowledge about these usually fragmentary specimens. A separate long term interest is the behavior and evolution of jays, crows, and magpies.



Penguin fossil bones from the South Pacific: rib, atlas, part of a wing bone, another rib.

Credit - C. Consoli


Adeliae penguin on the beach.

Credit - G.G. Simpson



Robertson, D.S., M.C. Mckenna, O.B. Toon, S. Hope, and J.A. Lillegraven. 2004. Survival in the first hours of the Cenozoic. Geological Society of America Bulletin 5/6:760-768.

Robertson, D.S., M.C. Mckenna, O.B. Toon, S. Hope, and J.A. Lillegraven. 2004. Comment on "Fireball passes and nothing burns—The role of thermal radiation in the Cretaceous-Tertiary event: Evidence from the charcoal record of North America." Volume 2004. Geology: Online Forum pp e50-e51.

Hope, S. 2002. The Mesozoic Record of Neornithes, Pages 339-388 in L.M. Chiappe and L.M. Witmer (eds.), Mesozoic Birds, above the heads of dinosaurs. University of California Press, Berkeley, California.

Parris, D.C., and S. Hope. 2002. New Interpretations of Birds from the Navesink and Hornerstown Formations, New Jersey, USA (Aves: Neornithes), Pages 113-124 in Z. Zhou and F. Zhang (eds.), Proceedings of the 5th Symposium of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, Beijing, 1-4 June 2000. Science Press, Beijing, China.

Hope, S. 1999. A new species of Graculavus from the Cretaceous of Wyoming (Aves: Neornithes), Pages 261-266 in S.L. Olson (ed.), Avian Paleontology at the Close of the 20th Century: Proceedings of the 4th International Meeting of the Society of Avian Paleontology and Evolution, Washington, DC, June 1996. Volume 89. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology.

Hope, S. 1989. Phylogeny of the avian family Corvidae. Doctoral Dissertation, City University of New York, University Microfilms #90-00033, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Mundinger, P., and S. Hope. 1983. Expansion of the winter range of the House Finch: 1947-1979. American Birds 36:347-353.

Hope, S. 1980. Form in relation to function in calls of the Steller's Jay. American Naturalist 116:788-820.


  • Sylvia Hope
  • California Academy of Sciences
  • 55 Music Concourse Drive
  • San Francisco, CA 94118