mthayer's picture

Margaret Thayer

Curator Emeritus

Integrative Research Center
Collection Management
Evolutionary Biology

Thayer is a retired curator in the Division of Insects in the Field Museum's Zoology Department, where she conducts specimen-based research on rove beetles (Staphylinidae) and continues to work in the collection of over 12 million specimens and lots of insects and other arthropods. 

Margaret is particularly interested in the evolution, biogeography, and biology of rove beetles of the Austral region: Australia, New Zealand, southern South America, and South Africa and has also worked extensively with the North American fauna. Her systematic research is based mainly on study of morphological features, but she collaborates with colleagues on research using molecular (DNA sequence) data to help understand the evolution of rove beetles and their relatives.  Field work is an essential part of her research program that she enjoys tremendously, and she has done field work in the United States and nine other countries.

Recent Blog Posts

Additional Information


Ph.D. (Biology), Harvard University, 1985. Thesis title: Revision of the austral genus Metacorneolabium and studies in the systematics and biogeography of omaliine Staphylinidae (Coleoptera).

Sc.B. (Biology), Brown University, 1973


Grants & awards

  • Fossil Carrion Feeders (video). Imagine Science Film Festival (ISFF) video pick of the week, 29 Aug 2011 and one of 80 festival presentations (out of 400 submissions); Science 360 video of the day 8 Sept 2011
  • National Science Foundation Academic Research Infrastructure - Recovery and Reinvestment (ARI-R2) grant 2010-2013,“Infrastructure improvements to support invertebrate research at The Field Museum,” co-PI; R. Bieler, PI
  • National Science Foundation AToL grant (2005-2010); Staphyliniformia TWiG leader (PI of subcontract from Harvard University), “COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH: Assembling the Beetle Tree of Life (BToL)” (Brian D. Farrell, Harvard University, Lead PI; David R. Maddison, Oregon State University, PI; Michael F. Whiting, Brigham Young University, PI
  • National Science Foundation Systematics (PEET) grant 2001-2010, “Monography, phylogeny, and historical biogeography of austral Staphylinidae (Coleoptera)” PI; A. F. Newton, co-PI
  • Bertha LeBus Charitable Trust grant 2000-2001 Support for completion of “Guía ilustrada para los géneros de Staphylinidae (Coleoptera) de México – Illustrated guide to the genera of Staphylinidae (Coleoptera) of México”
  • National Science Foundation collection grant: 1996-1998, "Expansion and improvement of the Field Museum pinned insect collection", co-PI; A. F. Newton, PI; plus 1997 RAMHSS supplement with J. W. O. Ballard, A. F. Newton
  • Conservation Foundation (for Chicago Wilderness) grants: 1996–1999, "Restoration Effects in an Oak-Woodland Community at Swallow Cliff Woods," G. Mueller, D. Stotz, M. Thayer, co-PIs (also P. Leacock, P. Parrillo, P. Sierwald in 1999)
  • National Biological Service contract:  1995–1998, "Development of a taxonomic database on the Coleoptera of North America,"
  • National Science Foundation research grant:  1988–1992, "Phylogeny and reclassification of Omaliini beetles of the World"
  • National Geographic Society research grant, 1986–87, Field work in Australia, co-PI; A. F. Newton, PI
  • National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, 1985, turned back because of earlier completion of degree
  • Summer Research Grant, Dept. of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 1985, turned back because of earlier completion of degree
  • National Geographic Society research grant, 1984–85, Field work in New Zealand, with A. F. Newton, PI
  • Sigma Xi Grant‑in‑Aid‑of‑Research, 1982-83, Field work in Chile
  • Anderson Fund, Harvard University 1982–83, Field work in Chile and 1984, SEM work for dissertation
  • Australian Biological Resources Study research grant, 1980, Field work in Tasmania, museum studies in Adelaide; co-PI; A. F. Newton, PI



Email me to request pdfs if you cannot get them from the links below.

McKenna, D. M., A. L. Wild, K. Kanda, C. L. Bellamy, R. G. Beutel, M. S. Caterino, C. W. Farnum, D. C. Hawks, M. A. Ivie, M. L. Jameson, R. A. B. Leschen, A. E. Marvaldi, J. V. McHugh, A. F. Newton, J. A. Robertson, M. K. Thayer, M. F. Whiting, J. F. Lawrence, S. A. Ślipiński, D. R. Maddison & B. D. Farrell. 2015. The beetle Tree of Life reveals Coleoptera survived End Permian mass extinction to diversify during the Cretaceous terrestrial revolution. Systematic Entomology 46 pp. (open access) Supporting information

Cai, Chen-Yang, M. K. Thayer, M. S. Engel, A. F. Newton, J. Ortega-Blanco, Bo Wang, Xiang-Dong Wang & Di-Ying Huang. 2014. Early origin of parental care in Mesozoic carrion beetles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 111 (39): 14170-14174.

McKenna, D. D., B. D. Farrell, M. S. Caterino, C. W. Farnum, D. C. Hawks, D. R. Maddison, A. E. Seago, A. E.Z. Short, A. F. Newton & M. K. Thayer. 2014. Phylogeny and evolution of Staphyliniformia and Scarabaeiformia: Forest litter as a stepping-stone for diversification of non-phytophagous beetles. Systematic Entomology 40: 35–60. doi: 10.1111/syen.12093  free pdf   Supporting information

Peris, D., M. K. Thayer & D. Neraudeau. 2014. Oldest Omaliini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Omaliinae) discovered in the opaque Cretaceous amber of Charentes. Annals of the Entomological Society of America 107 (5): 902-910. Featured by ESA website 31 July: and press release at

Cai, Chenyang, Diying Huang, A. F. Newton & M. K. Thayer. 2014. Mesapatetica aenigmatica, a primitive rove beetle (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae) from the Middle Jurassic of China. Journal of Kansas Entomological Society 87 (2): 219-224.

Weide, D., M. K. Thayer & O. Betz. 2014. Comparative morphology of the tentorium and hypopharyngeal-premental sclerites in sporophagous and non-sporophagous adult Aleocharinae (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). Acta Zoologica  95 (1): 84-110. (with19 online animations).

Klimaszewski, J., M.-J. Morency, P. Labrie, A. Séguin, D. Langor, T. Work, C. Bourdon, E. Thiffault, D. Paré, A. F. Newton & M. K. Thayer. 2013. Molecular and microscopic analysis of the gut contents of abundant rove beetle species (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae) in the boreal balsam fir forest of Quebec, Canada. ZooKeys 353: 1-24.

Cai, Chenyang, M. K. Thayer, Diying Huang, Xiangdong Wan & A. F. Newton. 2013. A basal oxyteline rove beetle (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) from the Early Cretaceous of China: oldest record for the tribe Euphaniini. Comptes Rendus Palevol 12: 159-163.

Cai, Chen-yang, Di-ying Huang, M. K. Thayer & A. F. Newton. 2012. Glypholomatine rove beetles (Coleoptera, Staphylinidae): a southern hemisphere Recent group newly recorded from the Middle Jurassic of China. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 85 (3): 239-244.

Thayer, M. K., A. F. Newton & S. Chatzimanolis. 2012. Prosolierius, a new mid-Cretaceous genus of Solieriinae (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae) with three new species from Burmese amber. Cretaceous Research 34: 124-134. doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2011.10.010

Thayer, M. K. & J. V. McHugh. 2011. Range extension and biological notes on Eudectus crassicornis LeConte, 1885 (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Omaliinae: Coryphiini). Coleopterists Bulletin 65 (3): 292-293. doi: 10.1649/072.065.0309

Pardo, F., M. K. Thayer & Chenyang Cai. 2011. Fossil Carrion Feeders (video).

Lawrence, J, F., A. Ślipiński, A. E. Seago, M. K. Thayer, A. F. Newton & A. E. Marvaldi. 2011.  Phylogeny of the Coleoptera based on morphological characters of adults and larvae. Annales Zoologici 61 (1): 1-217. Lower-res pdf  (20 MB)   Request high-res pdf   Order hard copy

Weide, D., M. K. Thayer, A. F. Newton & O. Betz. 2010. Comparative morphology of the head of selected sporophagous and non-sporophagous Aleocharinae (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae): Musculature and hypopharynx-prementum complex. Journal of Morphology 271 (8): 910-931.DOI: 10.1002/jmor.10841; pdf online supporting information.

Chani-Posse, M. R. & M. K. Thayer.  2008. Staphylinidae, pp. 471-494. In: Biodiversidad de Artrópodos Argentinos, vol. 2, Claps, L., G. Debandi y S. Roig-Juñent, dirs. Sociedad Entomológica Argentina Ediciones, Mendoza, Argentina. ISBN 978-987-21319-2-0.

Thayer, M. K., T. Jászay & P. Hlaváč. 2007. Clarifications of and corrections to “A revision of the Palaearctic species of the genus Dropephylla (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Omaliinae)”. Entomological Problems 37 (1-2): 59-62.

Thayer, M. K.  2005. 11. Staphylinoidea. 11.7. Staphylinidae Latreille, 1802, pp. 296-344.  In: Coleoptera, Vol. 1. Morphology and Systematics (Archostemata, Adephaga, Myxophaga, Polyphaga partim), Beutel, R.G. & Leschen, R.A.B., eds., Handbook of Zoology, Vol. IV, Arthropoda: Insecta, Part 38,Kristensen, N.P. & Beutel, R.G., eds. De Gruyter, Berlin, New York.

Thayer M. K., J. S. Ashe, & R. S. Hanley. 2004.  Discovery of the remarkable larvae of Hoplandriini (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Aleocharinae).  Annals of the Entomological Society of America 97: 624-634. pdf 

Thayer, M. K. & F. F. Purrington.  2004. Bledius beattyi Blackwelder (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae:  Oxytelinae), new to the United States, and co-occurrences of some Bledius Leach and Dyschiriodes Jeannel (Coleoptera:  Carabidae:  Scaritinae) species in south Florida. Coleopterists Bulletin 58: 439-442.  pdf (bioone) or pdf (jstor)

Thayer, M. K.  2003.  Omaliinae of México:  New species, combinations, and records (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae). In: Systematics of Coleoptera: Papers Celebrating the Retirement of Ivan Löbl, Cuccodoro, G. & R. A. B. Leschen, eds., Memoirs on Entomology, International 17: 311-358.

Betz, O., M. K. Thayer, & A. F. Newton. 2003. Comparative morphology and evolutionary pathways of the mouthparts in spore‑feeding Staphylinoidea (Coleoptera). Acta Zoologica84: 179‑238.  pdf; supplemental figures.

Peck, S. B. & M. K. Thayer. 2003. The cave‑inhabiting rove beetles of the United States (Coleoptera; Staphylinidae; excluding Aleocharinae and Pselaphinae): Diversity and distributions.  Journal of Cave and Karst Studies 65(1): 3-8, 12 pp. appendix.   pdf, appendix

Thayer, M. K. & J. F. Lawrence.  2002. Family 98. Ciidae, Leach in Samouelle, 1819, pp. 403-412.  In: Arnett, R. H., Jr., M. C. Thomas, , P. E. Skelley, and J. H. Frank, eds., American Beetles,  Volume 2, Polyphaga: Scarabaeoidea through Curculionoidea.  CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.  xiv + 861 pp.

Navarrete‑Heredia, J. L., A. F. Newton, M. K. Thayer, J. S. Ashe, y D. S. Chandler. 2002. Guía ilustrada para los géneros de Staphylinidae (Coleoptera) de México. Illustrated guide to the genera of Staphylinidae (Coleoptera) of Mexico. Universidad de Guadalajara y CONABIO, México. 401 pp., 630 figs.

Thayer, M. K. 2000.  Glypholoma larvae at last: phylogenetic implications for basal Staphylinidae? (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Glypholomatinae).  Invertebrate Taxonomy 14: 741-754.  pdf, Treebase entry

Carlton, C., A. Newton, Jr., M. Thayer, G. Ball, E. Hall, A. Smith, M. L. Jameson, B. Ratcliffe, S. Peck, T. Seeno, S. Lingafelter, P. J. Johnson, W. Warner & P. Skelley. 2000. A comment on Coleoptera and Hymenoptera diversity. American Entomologist 46 (2): 69.

Newton, A. F., M. K. Thayer, J. S. Ashe (Aleocharinae) & D. S. Chandler (Pselaphinae).  2000. Family 22. Staphylinidae Latreille, 1802, pp. 272‑418.  In: Arnett, R. H., Jr. and M. C. Thomas, eds., American Beetles,  Volume 1, Archostemata, Myxophaga, Adephaga, Polyphaga: Staphyliniformia. CRC Press, Boca Raton, FL.  xv + 443 pp. [2001]

Ballard, J. W. O., M. K. Thayer, A. F. Newton & E. R. Grismer. 1998.  Data sets, partitions, and characters:  Philosophies and procedures for analyzing multiple data sets.  Systematic Biology 47: 367-396.  pdf

Thayer, M. K.1997.  Proglypholoma aenigma gen. et sp. nov., Glypholoma spp. nov. and new records, and a phylogenetic analysis of Glypholomatinae (Coleoptera:  Staphylinidae).  Annales Zoologici 47: 157-174. Treebase entry

Klimaszewski, J., A. F. Newton, Jr. & M. K. Thayer.  1996.  A review of the New Zealand rove beetles (Coleoptera:  Staphylinidae).  New Zealand Journal of Zoology 23: 143-160.

Newton, A. F., Jr. & M. K. Thayer.  1995.  Protopselaphinae new subfamily for Protopselaphus new genus from Malaysia, with a phylogenetic analysis and review of the Omaliine Group of Staphylinidae including Pselaphidae.  pp. 219-320 in:  Pakaluk, J. and Ślipiński, S. A., eds., Biology, Phylogeny, and Classification of Coleoptera: Papers Celebrating the 80th Birthday of Roy A. Crowson.  Muzeum i Instytut Zoologii PAN, Warszawa.

Thayer, M. K.  1993.  Osellia Zanetti a junior synonym of Orochares Kraatz, with a checklist of Orochares species.  (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Omaliinae).  Coleopterists Bulletin 47: 285-287.  pdf

Thayer, M. K.  1992.  Discovery of sexual wing dimorphism in Staphylinidae (Coleoptera): "Omalium" flavidum, and a discussion of wing dimorphism in insects.  Journal of the New York Entomological Society 100: 540-573. pdf

Newton, A. F., Jr. & M. K. Thayer.  1992.  Current classification and family-group names in Staphyliniformia (Coleoptera).  Fieldiana, Zoology, New Series, No. 67: iv + 92 pp.  pdf

Johnson, S. A., R. W. Lundgren, A. F. Newton, Jr., M. K. Thayer, R. L. Wenzel & M. Wenzel.  1992 (1991).  Mazur's World Catalogue of Histeridae: emendations, replacement names for homonyms, and an index.  Polski Pismo Entomologiczne 61: 1-100.

Newton, A. F., Jr. & M. K. Thayer.  1988.  Naomi's phylogeny and higher classification of Staphylinidae and allies (Coleoptera):  A critique.  Entomologia Generalis14:63-72.

Thayer, M. K.  1987.  Biology and phylogenetic relationships of Neophonus bruchi, an anomalous south Andean staphylinid (Coleoptera).  Systematic Entomology 12:389-404. pdf

Thayer, M. K.  1985.  The larva of Brathinus nitidus LeConte and the systematic position of the genus (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Coleopterists Bulletin 39:174‑184. pdf

Thayer, M. K.  1985.  Micralymma marinum (Stroem) in North America: biological notes and new distributional records (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae).  Psyche 92:49‑55. pdf

Thayer, M. K.  1985.  Revision, phylogeny, and biogeography of the austral genus Metacor­neo­labium Steel (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae, Omaliinae). pp. 113‑179 in G. E. Ball, ed., Taxonomy, phylogeny, and zoogeography of beetles and ants.  A volume dedicated to the memory of Philip Jackson Darlington, Jr. 1904‑1983.  Series Entomologica 33, Dr. W. Junk Publishers, Dordrecht.

Thayer, M. K. & A. F. Newton, Jr.  1979.  Revision of the south temperate genus Glypholoma Jeannel, with four new species (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae: Omaliinae).  Psyche 85: 25‑63. [1978] pdf

Thayer, M. K.  1978.  Redescription of Xenicopoda Moore and Legner (Coleoptera: Staphylinidae, Omaliinae) with supplementary notes.  Psyche 84:142‑149. [1977] pdf


Work experience

  • Curator Emeritus (2013- ), Field Museum of Natural History
  • Lecturer, Committee on Evolutionary Biology, University of Chicago (2013–2016)
  • Associate Curator (2005–2013),  Zoology - Division of Insects, Field Museum of Natural History; Assistant Curator (2000–2005); Head, Division of Insects (2001–2002, 2007–2013)
  • Visiting Scientist (June-Aug 2004), CSIRO Entomology, Australia
  • Adjunct Curator (1994–1999), Zoology, Field Museum of Natural History
  • Research Associate (1986–94), Field Museum of Natural History
  • Visiting Assistant Curator (1988–92), Division of Insects, Field Museum of Natural History (as PI of NSF research grant)
  • Instructor, Coleoptera Larvae Workshop (June 1991), University of Hawaii and Bishop Museum, Honolulu
  • Visiting Curator/contract curation: Canadian National Collection, Ottawa; Bohart Entomological Museum, University of California, Davis; California Academy of Sciences; Bishop Museum, Honolulu; Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan; National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution); Entomology Department, University of New Hampshire; American Museum of Natural History
  • Student Curator (1984), Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University
  • Teaching Fellow, Harvard University (Biology of Insects; Intro. Evolutionary Biology)
  • Curatorial Associate (1976–80), Curatorial Assistant (1975–76), Preparator (1973–74), Entomology Department, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University


Professional affiliations

  • American Association for Zoological Nomenclature
  • American Association of University Professors (Secretary of FMNH chapter, 2009– )
  • Asociación europea de coleopterología
  • Cambridge Entomological Club (Secretary, 1982 83; President, 1983–84)
  • Coleopterists Society (Treasurer, 1987–1991; President-Elect, President, Past President, 1993–98)
  • Entomological Collections Network (Steering Committee member, 1991–1992; Automatic Data Processing Data Standards Committee 1990)
  • Entomological Society of America (Annals Editorial Board, 1993–94; Section A officer, 1995–1997; symposium co-organizer, 1998; Thomas Say Publications Editorial Board 2005–2011)
  • The Nature Conservancy
  • Sigma Xi (elected 1973)
  • Society for the Preservation of Natural History Collections
  • Society of Systematic Biologists (formerly Society of Systematic Zoology; Councillor, 1990–1992)
  • Willi Hennig Society
  • World Wildlife Fund
  • Xerces Society