Dr Bruno Fonseca Simoes

Dr Bruno Fonseca Simoes

Lecturer in Animal Biology

School of Biological and Marine Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)

Dr Bruno Fonseca Simoes can be contacted through arrangement with our Press Office, to speak to the media on these areas of expertise.
  • Sensory evolution
  • Animal vision
  • Herpetology
  • Snakes
  • Molecular evolution
  • Comparative genomics


Lecturer in Animal Biology



  • 2020 - 20xx: Lecturer in Animal Biology − University of Plymouth (UK)
  • 2016 - 2019: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellow − University of Bristol (UK) & University of Adelaide (Australia)
  • 2016 - 2016: Principal Molecular Biologist − Applied Genomics Ltd. (UK)
  • 2012 - 2015: Postdoctoral Research Associate − The Natural History Museum, London (UK) 


  • 2012: PhD, University College Dublin (Ireland) − Thesis: Opsins and Bats: The Evolution of Mammalian Vision
  • 2007: MSc in Biodiversity and Genetic Resources, University of Porto (Portugal)
  • 2004: Licentiate Degree in Biology, University of the Azores (Azores, Portugal)
  • 2021: Associate Fellowship of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA)

Professional membership

  • Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution
  • International Society for Neuroethology
  • The Systematics Association

Roles on external bodies

  • 2017 - 20xx: Adjunct Lecturer − School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide (Australia)
  • 2017 - 20xx: Honorary Researcher − South Australian Museum (Australia)
  • 2020 - 20xx: Visiting Academic − Universidade Federal do Pará, Campus de Altamira (Brazil)

Peer-Review: BMC Evolutionary Biology; Mammalian Biology; Journal of Protein Science; Journal of Molecular Evolution, Integrative Zoology, Molecular Biology and Evolution, Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Scientific Reports, Science.



Teaching interests

Im the Module Lead for:

  • Introduction to Zoology (BIOL137)
  • Biological Sciences Field Course (BIOL233) − Azores (Portugal)
  • Behaviour and Ecology Field Biology (BIOL136) − Slapton (UK) 

I also contribute in the fields of zoology (specially Herpetology), evolutionary biology, genomics, sensory biology and neurobiology for the following modules:
  • Ecology and the Diversity of Life (BIOL132Z)
  • Animal Ecophysiology (BIOL226Z)
  • Comparative Zoology (BIOL232Z)
  • Methods in Biology (BIOL234Z)
  • Advanced Skills and Concepts (BIOL307) − Podules: Molecular Ecology & Conservation Genetics and Science Communication
  • Personal Research (BIOL215/505) − Research project supervisor



Research interests

I am an evolutionary biologist interested in the evolution of animal sensory perception. My research career has been focused on studying the evolution of vision in several vertebrate lineages: bats, snakes, and squamate reptiles.

In my current research, I integrate genomic, physiological and anatomical data to understand the genomic underpinning the variation observed in the visual system of lizards and snakes (squamates). My research also focuses on the relative roles of ecological adaptation in the origin of novel visual phenotypes in squamates, and to understand whether complex visual systems can be re-elaborated following evolutionary degeneration.

Research groups

Other research

Additionally, I also currently studying other aspects of ecological adaptation in lizards and snakes as well as identify new species.

Research degrees awarded to supervised students

Current PhD Students

  • Matthew Ford: Evolution of Vision in Skinks − University of Adelaide (co-supervisor Kate Sanders)
  • Marylette Roa: Diversity and ecology of squamate gut microbiome − National University of Ireland, Galway (supervisor Alexandre de Menezes)
  • Isaac Rosetto: Evolution of sea snakes − University of Adelaide (Supervisor Kate Sanders)

Grants & contracts

  • 2018 - 2021: Australian Research Council, Discovery Project − Evolutionary dynamics of reptile vision: How are complex traits lost and re-innovated during ecological transitions? DP180101688 — Co-Leading Chief Scientist with Kate Sanders; Co-Applicants: James Breen, David Hunt, Mark Hutchinson, Belinda Chang, Davide Pisani & Emma Teeling.
  • 2017: Environment Institute, University of Adelaide – Spectral transmittance and reflectance: Developing a high impact cross-disciplinary research programme on visual evolution. Co-Applicant with Kate Sanders
  • 2016 - 2019: European Union, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Global Fellowship – Elaboration and degeneration of complex traits: The visual systems of lizards and snakes (Evol-Eyes) 703438 — Applicant; Advisors: Davide Pisani & Kate Sanders.
  • 2014: Environment Institute, University of Adelaide – Molecular evolution of vision in sea snakes. Co-Applicant with Kate Sanders
  • 2008 - 2011: Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT), International Doctoral Scholarship – Molecular Mechanisms and Evolution of Mammalian Sensory Perception: Visual Pathways in Bats. SFRH/BD/36369/2007. Applicant; PhD supervisor: Emma C. Teeling.




David J Gower, James F Fleming, Davide Pisani, Freek J Vonk, Harald M I Kerkkamp, Leo Peichl, Sonja Meimann, Nicholas R Casewell, Christiaan V Henkel, Michael K Richardson, Kate L Sanders and Bruno F. Simões (2021). Eye-Transcriptome and Genome-Wide Sequencing for Scolecophidia: Implications for Inferring the Visual System of the Ancestral Snake. Genome Biology and Evolution 13, evab253. DOI:10.1093/gbe/evab253.

Jenna Crowe-Riddell, Ludo Pieterman, James Nankivell, Alastair Ludington, Bruno F. Simões, Nathan Dunstan, Julian Partridge, Kate Sanders, Luke Allen (2021). From matte banded to glossy black: Structures underlying colour change in the caudal lures of southern death adders (Acanthophis antarcticus, Reptilia: Elapidae). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 132(3): 666-675. DOI: 10.1093/biolinnean/blaa218

Bruno F. Simões, David J. Gower, Arne R. Rasmussen, Mohammad A.R. Sarker, Gary C. Fry, Nicholas R. Casewell,Robert A. Harrison, Nathan S. Hart, Julian C. Partridge, David M. Hunt, Belinda S. Chang, Davide Pisani, and Kate L. Sanders (2020). Spectral Diversification and Trans-Species Allelic Polymorphism during the Land-to-Sea Transition in Snakes. Current Biology 30(13): 2608-2615. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2020.04.06

David J. Gower, Filipa L. Sampaio, Leo Peichl, Hans-Joachim Wagner, Ellis Loew, William McLamb, Ronald H. Douglas, Nikolai Orlov, Michael S. Grace, Nathan Hart, David M. Hunt, Julian C. Partridge and Bruno F. Simões (2019). Evolution of the eyes of vipers with and without infrared-sensing pit organs. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 126(4): 796-823. DOI: 10.1093/biolinnean/blz003.

Jenna Crowe-Riddell, Bruno F. Simões, Julian C. Partridge, Steven Delean, David M. Hunt, Julian G. Schwerdt, James Breen, Alastair Ludington, David J. Gower and Kate Sanders (2019). Phototactic tails: Evolution and molecular basis of dermal photoreception in sea snakes. Molecular Ecology 9(10): p. 2640. DOI: 10.1111/mec.15022.

Kenny J. Travouillon, Bruno F. Simões, Roberto Portela Miguez, Selina Brace, Phillipa Brewer, David Stemmer, Gilbert Price, Jonathan Cramb and Julien Louys (2019). Hidden in plain sight: reassessment of the Pig-footed Bandicoot, Chaeropus ecaudatus (Peramelemorphia, Chaeropodidae), with a description of a new species from central Australia, and use of the fossil record to trace its past distribution. Zootaxa 4566(1): 001–069 DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4566.1.1.

Bruno F. Simões, Nicole Foley, Graham Hudges, Huabin Zhao, Shuyi Zhang, Stephen Rossiter and Emma C. Teeling (2019). Blind as a bat? Opsin phylogenetics illuminates the evolution of colour vision in bats. Molecular Biology and Evolution 36(1): 54-68. DOI:10.1093/molbev/msy192.

Bruno F. Simões and D. J. Gower (2017). Evolution of visual pigments in reptiles. eLS Essential for Life Science. DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0026519.

Bruno F. Simões, Filipa L. Sampaio, Ullasa Kodandaramaiah, Ronald H. Douglas, Nicholas R. Casewell, Robert A. Harrison, Nathan S. Hart, Julian C. Partridge, David M. Hunt, and David J. Gower (2016). Visual pigments, ocular filters and the evolution of snake vision. Molecular Biology and Evolution 33(10): 2483-95. DOI:10.1093/molbev/msw148.

Bruno F. Simões, Filipa L. Sampaio, Kate L. Sanders, Robert N. Fisher, Ellis Loew, Julian C. Partridge, David M. Hunt, Nathan S. Hart and David J. Gower (2016). Multiple rod-cone and cone-rod transmutations in snakes – evidence from visual opsin gene expression. Proceedings of the Royal Society London B, 283: 20152624. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2015.2624.

B. F. Simões, F. L. Sampaio, C. Jared, M. M. Antoniazzi, N. S. Hart, J. C. Partridge, D.M. Hunt and D. J. Gower (2015). Vision system evolution and the nature of the ancestral snake. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 28(7): 1309-20. DOI:10.1111/jeb.12663 (Cover Issue July 2015).

B. F. Simões, H. Rebelo, R. J. Lopes, P. C, Alves and D. J. Harris (2007). Patterns of genetic diversity within and between Myotis d. daubentonii and M. d. nathalinae derived from cytochrome b mtDNA sequence data. Acta Chiropterologica, 9(2): 379-389.


David Gower, Einat Hauzman, Bruno F Simões and Ryan Schott (2022). Eyes, Vision, and the Origins and Early Evolution of Snakes (Chapter 15) in The Origen and Early Evolutionary History of Snakes (David Gower, Hussam Zaher, eds). Cambridge University Press.

Conference Papers

Maria Anunciação Ventura & Bruno Fonseca Simões (2005). Laboratory evidence of phenological adaptation in two insular populations of Chrysoperla agilis. Proceedings of International Symposium on Neuropterology 8: 187-195.



Reports & invited lectures

  • June 2019, Seminar in Brain and Cognition - Bath Spa University (UK)
  • January 2016, Ecosystem Science - Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (Canberra, Australia).
  • December 2015, Environment Institute - University of Adelaide (Australia)
  • December 2015, School of Animal Biology - University of Western Australia (Australia)
  • July 2013, Instituto Butantã (São Paulo, Brazil)

Other academic activities

Community Activities

  • 2016 - 2018: The University of Adelaide, Children’s University Australia - Multiple presentations on reptile biology in schools across South Australia.
  • 2012 - 2015: The Natural History Museum, London - NatureLive and Science Uncovered.


  • National Geographic Wild/Disney+ — Out There with Jack Randall, Season 1 Australia: Episode 4 "The Most Venomous Snakes In The World"
  • Radio Interviews for ABC Network (Australia)
  • Interviews for several TV channels and journals