Romer was a keen practical student of vertebrate evolution. Comparing facts from paleontology, comparative anatomy, and embryology, he taught the basic structural and functional changes that happened during the evolution of fishes to ancestral terrestrial vertebrates and from these to all other tetrapods. He always emphasized the evolutionary significance of the relationship between form and function of animals and their environment.
Through his textbook Vertebrate Paleontology Romer laid the foundation for the traditional classification of vertebrates. He drew together the then widely scattered taxonomy of the different vertebrate groups and combined them into a single scheme, emphasizing orderliness and overview. Based on his research into early amphibians, he reorganised the labyrinthodontians.Romer's classification has been followed by many subsequent authors, notably Robert L. Carroll, and is still in use.
Kronosaurus queenslandicus skeleton controversy
K. queenslandicus at Harvard University which may have been reconstructed with too many vertebrae
Prior to Romer's tenure as MCZ director, the Museum sent an expedition to Australia in 1931-1932 to gather specimens and study live animals. Then-graduate student William E. Schevill, the team's fossil enthusiast, remained in Australia afterward and, in the winter of 1932, was told by the rancher R.W.H. Thomas of rocks on his property near Hughenden with something "odd" poking out of them. The rocks were limestonenodules that contained the most complete skeleton of a Kronosaurus ever discovered. After dynamiting the nodules out of the ground (and into smaller pieces weighing approximately four tons), William Schevill shipped the fossils back to Harvard for examination and preparation. The skull--which matched the holotype jaw fragment of K. queenslandicus--was prepared right away, but time and budget constraints put off restoration of the nearly complete skeleton for 20 years - most of the bones of which remained unexcavated within the limestone blocks. Work resumed when the material came to the attention of Godfrey Lowell Cabot - Boston industrialist, philanthropist, and founder of the Cabot Corporation - "who was then in his nineties but had been interested in sea serpents since childhood."
K. queenslandicus scale diagram, showing the size of the restored Harvard skeleton along with a more accurate estimate
He had previously questioned Dr. Romer about the existence and reports of sea serpents, and it occurred to Romer to tell Mr. Cabot about the skeleton in the museum closet. Godfrey Cabot asked how much a restoration would cost: "Romer, pulling a figure out of the musty air, replied, 'Oh, about $10,000.'" Romer may not have been serious, but the philanthropist sent a check for said sum shortly afterwards. Two years - and more than $10,000 - later, after the careful labor of the museum preparators, the restored and mounted skeleton was displayed at Harvard in 1959. However, Dr. Romer and MCZ preparator Arnold Lewis confirmed that same year in the institution's journal Breviora that "erosion had destroyed a fair fraction of this once complete and articulated skeleton...so that approximately a third of the specimen as exhibited is plaster restoration." As well, the original bones remained layered in plaster; while this kept the fossils safe, it made it difficult for paleontologists to study them. This was a factor in subsequent controversy as to the true size of the Kronosaurus queenslandicus.
Body-length estimates, largely based on the 1959 Harvard reconstruction, had previously put the total length of Kronosaurus at 12.8 metres (42 ft). However, more recent studies that compared fossil specimens of Kronosaurus to other pliosaurs suggest that the Harvard reconstruction may have included too many vertebrae, so as to exaggerate the previous estimate, with the true length probably only 9 to 10.5 metres (30 to 34 ft).
Romeriscus is a genus from the early Pennsylvanian (Late Carboniferous) initially described as the oldest known amniote, but this is because limnoscelids were, at that time, considered amniotes by some authors. A subsequent study showed that the fossil lacks diagnostic characters and can only be assigned to Tetrapoda.
Dromomeron romeri is a species of non-dinosaurian dinosauromorph named in July 2007. The genus name means 'running femur,' and the species name honors the paleontologist, a key figure in evolution research. The finding of these fossils was hailed as a breakthrough proving dinosaurs and other dinosauromorphs "lived together for as long as 15 to 20 million years."
A romerogram of the vertebrates at class level, with the width of spindles indicating number of families.
A romerogram, also called spindle diagram, or bubble diagram, is a diagram popularised by Alfred Romer.
It represents taxonomic diversity (horizontal width) against geological time (vertical axis) in order to reflect the variation of abundance of various taxa through time.
^ abcAbout the Exhibits by Elizabeth Hall and Max Hall (Museum of Comparative Zoology "Agazziz Museum" Harvard University. Third Edition, Copyright 1964, 1975, 1985, by the President and Fellows of Harvard College