Dr Rahman’s research uses echinoderms as a model group for uncovering the origin and early evolution of animals more broadly. His work is focused on Palaeozoic fossils, which document the earliest steps in the evolution of the echinoderm body plan. Fossils are analysed with the aid of high-resolution X-ray tomography and computer simulations (e.g. computational fluid dynamics), providing new insights into their morphology, systematics and function. This has informed rigorous tests of long-standing hypotheses concerning the mode of life, phylogenetic relationships and evolutionary history of early echinoderms, with implications for understanding the Cambrian explosion and the emergence of animals more generally.
Related research interests include Ediacaran organisms and their ecosystems, the anatomy and development of deuterostomes and techniques for three-dimensional visualization and analysis of fossil and modern specimens.