2021.10.14. Publikacja IP PAN — Salamon, M.A., Brachaniec, T., Kołbuk, D., Saha, A. & Gorzelak, P. 2021. Shared patterns in body size declines among crinoids during the Palaeozoic extinction events.
Sci Rep 11, 20351 (2021).


Crinoids were among the most abundant and diverse marine benthic animals in the Palaeozoic. The evolution of their body size has never been studied in detail. In the paper published in Scientific Reports, an extensive database on the size of the calyxes of Palaeozoic crinoids was analyzed. It turned out that the size of their thecae significantly decreased during the mass extinctions (in the late Ordovician and late Devonian). This reduction in size probably represented an adaptation that helped crinoids survive in periods of unfavorable environmental conditions. This is reminiscent of current patterns of shrinking body size of some Recent marine organisms as a result of progressive climate change.

2021.10.11. PUBLICATION Kołbuk, D., Dubois, Ph., Stolarski, J., Gorzelak, P. 2021. Impact of seawater Mg2+/Ca2+ on Mg/Ca of asterozoan skeleton – Evidence from culturing and the fossil record. Chemical Geology, doi: 10.1016/j.chemgeo.2021. Volume 584, 5 December 2021, 120557.


Geochemical data (in particular, the magnesium to calcium ratio) from the skeletons of well-preserved fossil echinoderms are used as a source of information on the chemical composition of ancient seas. However, to date the experimental studies on the effect of seawater chemistry on the chemical composition of the echinoderm skeleton have been conducted only on sea urchins. This paper presents the results of an experiment carried out on sea stars and brittle stars. The experiment aimed to verify the hypothesis concerning the strict dependence between the geochemical parameters of the echinoderm skeleton and the chemical composition of seawater. The study confirmed that animals cultured in water with a lowered Mg2+/Ca2+ seawater ratio formed a skeleton with a lowered Mg/Ca ratio, which theoretically could indicate a high potential of echinoderms in the reconstructions of local geochemical parameters (Mg2+/Ca2+). Nevertheless, the accuracy of such reconstructions may be limited by species variability resulting from the physiological processes, as well as by environmental parameters (e.g., water temperature and salinity, type of available diet) and the influence of diagenesis.
The research was financed by National Science Center grant no. 2016/23/B/ST10/00990.

2021.10.08. PUBLICATION — Majewski W., Holzmann M., Gooday A.J., Majda A., Mamos T., Pawlowski J. 2021. Cenozoic climatic changes drive evolution and dispersal of coastal benthic foraminifera in the Southern Ocean. Scientific Reports 11: 19869
Our combined morphological and taxonomic study has clarified the taxonomy and biogeography of Cassidulinidae benthic foraminifera in the area of the Scotia Sea and West Antarctica. It has also demonstrated how the complex interplay between environmental changes driven by the tectonics, climate and oceanography throughout the Cenozoic have influence the evolution and biogeography of this important foraminiferal family. Our data suggest, for example, that the Late Miocene to Pliocene warming (7 to 5 Ma) could have been a period during which biogeographic barriers across the Drake Passage were breached. Currently, Antarctica is experiencing similar climate change and, with the ongoing warming and the southward shift of marine currents, it is increasingly exposed to species invasion. Studies with a geological perspective, such as ours, can provide a broader context for how these environmental changes might refashion communities and biogeographic patterns in this critical region.

Ranges of different species of Cassidulinoides in the area of the Scotia Sea and West Antarctica.

2021.09.27. PUBLICATION — McLoughlin, S., Halamski, A.T., Mays, C. & Kvaček, J. 2021. Neutron tomography, fluorescence and transmitted light microscopy reveal new insect damage, fungi and plant organ associations in the Late Cretaceous floras of Sweden. GFF.
The object of the paper is to show how using modern technology (neutron tomography, fluorescence) allows extracting more information from Late Cretaceous plant fossils from Sweden compared to classical methods. Neutron tomography allowed preparing a 3-D visualisation of a fossil cone of the conifer Fricia nathorstii even if the major part of the cone is embedded in a large piece of hard sandstone. The newly described Meliolinites scanicus is the oldest known (and the first pre-Cenozoic) representative of the fungal order Meliolales (division Ascomycota, class Sordariomycetes).

A single image of the fossil cone extracted from the mobile 3-D visualisation (McLoughlin et al. 2021, fig. 4F). The full film.

2021.09.08. PUBLICATION — Landman, N. H., Machalski, M., & Whalen, C. D. 2021. The concept
of ‘heteromorph ammonoids’. Lethaia.

Scaphitid ammonoids are the well-known group of Late Cretaceous ‘heteromorphs’. The illustration
shows evolution of a latest Cretaceous scaphitid lineage; note a tendency to ‘recoil’ the shells with time (after Landman et al., 2021, fig. 2).

The concept of ‘heteromorph ammonoids’
The ammonoids are extinct cephalopods with predominantly planispirally-coiled shells. The term ‘heteromorph ammonoids’ is deeply rooted in literature to ecompass ‘aberrant’ ammonoids (for instance scaphitids) characterized by shells uncoiled in various ways. At one time such forms were considered to be a sign of degeneration foreshadowing the extinction of these cephalopods. Today we know that this was not the case. Actually, ‘heteromorph ammonoids’ are a heterogeneous mixture of taxa without any phylogenetic, morphological or ecological coherence. The term no longer has any explanatory power.
For this reason, we think it makes no sense any further to consider the ‘heteromorphs’ as a single entity
in palaeobiological studies.
Work partially financed by the National Science Centre, Poland (Grant 2015/19/B/ST10/02033).

2021.07.06. PUBLICATION — Drake J., Malik A., Popovits Y., Oshra S., Stolarski J., Tchernov D., Sher D., Mass T. 2021. Physiological and transcriptomic variability indicative of differences in key functions within a single coral colony. Frontiers of Marine Science 8: 685876,
doi: 10.3389/fmars.2021.685876.


Polyps in different locations on individual stony coral colonies experience variation in numerous environmental conditions including flow and light that potentially may lead to transcriptional and physiological differences across the colony. In this paper, using high resolution tissue and skeleton measurements and differential gene expression from multiple locations within a single colony of Stylophora pistillata we observed a broad transcriptional responses in both the host and photosymbiont in response to polyp position within the colony. For example, biomolecular mechanisms of biomineralization appear more active toward branch tips that maybe responsible for fine-scale structural differences in corallites observed along the colony branches. Each part of the colony appears to have distinct functional roles related to polyps’ differential exposure to environmental conditions.

2021.07.05. PUBLICATION — Kaim, A., Little, C.T.S., Kennedy, W.J., Mears, E.M. and Anderson L.M. 2021. Late Cretaceous hydrothermal vent communities from the Troodos Ophiolite, Cyprus: Systematics and evolutionary significance. Papers in Palaeontology published online.
Hydrothermal vent communities are associations of animals living in deep sea around sulphide chimneys. Their feeding strategies are based on chemosynthesis by microbial primary producers. Molecular phylogenetic divergence estimates indicate that many of the dominant vent taxa arose during the Cenozoic and Cretaceous; however, the fossil record of vent communities is exceptionally poor. One occurrence of such Cretaceous vent communities is known from an ophiolite in Cyprus. The Cyprus vent communities consist of worm tubes and numerous abyssochrysoid gastropods. All gastropods belong new species and one new genus Cyprioconcha is also described. The gastropod fauna contains the first representatives of Desbruyeresia, Hokkaidoconcha, Ascheria and Paskentana from hydrothermal vents, and also the youngest representative of the latter genus in any environment. This fauna is just one of two hydrothermal vent communities known containing other fossils than worm tubes in the Mesozoic times.

2021.06.22. PUBLICATIONSłowiak J., Szczygielski T., Rothschild B. M., & Surmik D. 2021.
Dinosaur senescence: a hadrosauroid with age‑related diseases brings a new perspective of “old” dinosaurs. Scientific Reports 11: 11947.


Senile dinosaurs are very rare in fossil record. The study is focused on the biggest specimen of Gobihadros mongoliensis. On the phalanx and vertebrae we identified deposits of calcium pirophoshpate (CPPD), for the first time in dinosaurs. Such pathologies are very rare in young animals; in people, CPPD appears mostly after the 55th year of life. The presence of CPPD, its primary (non-traumatic) character, the size of the animal, and characters of the long bones indicate an advanced age of the studied specimen. The fossils allowed revision of the features indicating senescense in dinosaurs.

2021.06.08. PUBLICATIONŁucja Fostowicz-Frelik, Sergi López-Torres, Qian Li. 2021. Tarsal morphology of ischyromyid rodents from the middle Eocene of China gives an insight into the group's diversity in Central Asia. Scientific Reports 11.


In the paper we investigate the tarsal bones of the three species of ischyromyid rodents from the middle Eocene of North China (Nei Mongol). This grup contains the earliest rodents sensu stricto, known since the Paleocene of North America. So far, no postcranial material of ischyromyids has been described from China;the morphology of the studied tarsal bones overall suggests ambulatory locomotion for these animals, similar to living porcupines. Our results suggest that the ischyromyids may have migrated to China in the early Eocene directly from North America, unlike their representatives known from India.

2021.05.10. PUBLICATION — Bindellini, G., Wolniewicz, A. S., Miedema, F., Scheyer, T. M. and Dal Sasso, C. 2021. Cranial anatomy of Besanosaurus leptorhynchus Dal Sasso & Pinna, 1996 (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria) from the Middle Triassic Besano Formation of Monte San Giorgio, Italy/Switzerland: taxonomic and palaeobiological implications. PeerJ: 11179.


Besanosaurus leptorhynchus was a large, shastsaurid ichthyosaur first described in 1996 based on a single, complete specimen discovered in the Middle Triassic rocks of the Besano Formation exposed on Monte San Giorgio, near the town of Besano, Italy. However, the skull of the specimen was extremely compressed, which caused huge difficulties with reconstructing its anatomy. Recently, an international team of researchers managed to locate additional fossil specimens of B. leptorhynchus in museum collections in Milan, Zürich and Tübingen, which helped to reconstruct the skull anatomy of this species in more detail. The investigation also determined that Mikadocephalus gracilirostris, previously thought to represent another ichthyosaur species from Monte San Giorgio, is indistinguishable from B. leptorhynchus, and is as a result synonymised with the latter.

2021.05.05. The PASIFIC Programme
The first call for applications in the PASIFIC Postdoctoral Fellowships Programme is open!
Video explainer
PASIFIC Postdoctoral Fellowships | Prof. Paweł Rowiński Polish Academy of Sciences
For more details check out:
Important documents
see also the PASIFIC in a Nutshell:

2021.04.15. PUBLICATION — Jakubowicz M., Agirrezabala, L.M., Dopieralska, J., Siepak, M., Kaim, A., and Belka, Z. 2021. The role of magmatism in hydrocarbon generation in sedimented rifts: a Nd isotope perspective from mid-Cretaceous methane-seep deposits of the Basque-Cantabrian Basin, Spain. Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta,
We have applied a novel approach that uses the Nd isotope composition (combined with rare earth element analyses and carbon and oxygen isotope measurements) to trace the former composition and migration pathways of the seeping fluids, which interacted with magmatic intrusions in organic rich sedimentary basins. These fluids and termogenic methane were responsible for the formation of authigenic seep carbonates at place of the fluid release at the sea bottom (so-called hydrocarbon seeps). We studied four mid-Cretaceous methane-seep deposits of the Basque-Cantabrian Basin and reconstructed their architecture and origin during the opening of the Bay of Biscay, a process that caused numerous intrusions of magmatic matter into thick sediment cover and formed several hydrocarbon seeps on the sea floor. This in turn allowed to develop rich chemosynthetic communities on a deep sea floor, which is usually poor in biological life.

2021.04.14. PUBLICATIONBitner, M.A. & Gerovasileiou, V. 2021. Taxonomic composition and assemblage structure of brachiopods from two submarine caves in the Aegean Sea, Eastern Mediterranean. The European Zoological Journal, 88 (1), 316–327,


Brachiopods exhibit a particular preference for cryptic habitats such as submarine caves. In this work brachiopod assemblages were studied in detail for the first time in two Aegean submarine caves, Fara and Agios Vasilios, Lesvos Island, Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Six species of Recent brachiopods, i.e. Novocrania turbinata (Poli,1795), Tethyrhynchia mediterranea Logan, 1994, Megathiris detruncata (Gmelin, 1791), Argyrotheca cuneata (Risso, 1826), A. cistellula (Searles-Wood, 1841), and Joania cordata (Risso, 1826), have been identified. The cave-exclusive species Tethyrhynchia mediterranea, reported for the first time from the Aegean Sea was found only in the internal dark ceilings and walls of Fara cave. In both caves the dominant species was Argyrotheca cuneata. Abundance and diversity of brachiopods increased towards the internal dark ceilings of both caves.

2021.04.09. PUBLICATION — Czepiński Ł., Dróżdż D., Szczygielski T., Tałanda M., Pawlak W., Lewczuk A., Rytel A. & Sulej T. 2021. — An Upper Triassic terrestrial vertebrate assemblage from the forgotten Kocury locality (Poland) with a new aetosaur taxon. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology,
DOI: 10.1080/02724634.2021.1898977.


The historical locality of Kocury yielded the first definitive dinosaur remains from Poland, Velocipes guerichi von Huene, 1932, but quickly fell into obscurity. Recent re-explorations, however, led to discovery of new Late Triassic vertebrate fossils, including lungfish, turtles, and a new aetosaur, Kocurypelta silvestris. The new species exhibits an unusual anatomy of the skull but pretty typical dermal armor. This stresses the need for reconsideration of aetosaurian taxonomy, which to a large extent is based solely on dermal armor characteristics.

2021.04.02. PUBLICATION — Kozłowska A. & Bates D. 2021. — Papiliograptus retimarginatus n. sp., a new retiolitid (Graptolithina) from the praedeubeli/deubeli Biozone (upper Homerian, Wenlock, Silurian), the recovery phase after the lundgreni Extinction Event. Comptes Rendus Palevol 20 (12): 199-206.
Papiliograptus retimarginatus n. sp. is reported from the praedeubeli/deubeli Biozone, upper Homerian of the Bartoszyce IG-1 drill core of Poland, Baltica. It is the second species of the genus Papiliograptus Lenz & Kozłowska-Dawidziuk, 2002, belonging to the new retiolitid fauna of the recovery period after the lundgreni Extinction Event. Two characteristic features of the new retiolitid fauna are the development of a geniculum and singular or paired genicular structures. The new form has extremely wide, singular, reticulated genicular processes. It is suggested that these structures may have been an adaptation to prevent the planktonic colony from sinking in the quiet water.

2021.03.18. PUBLICATIONFrankowiak, K., Roniewicz, E., Stolarski, J. 2021. Photosymbiosis in Late Triassic scleractinian corals from the Italian Dolomites. PeerJ 9:e11062, doi:10.7717/peerj.11062


The paper provides evidence of the coral-algal symbiosis among the Triassic (Carnian, ca. 230 Ma) corals living on the patch reefs of the Western Tethys (deposits currently exposed in the Dolomite Alps, Italy). All examined fossil corals exhibited lack of distinct correlation between carbon (δ13C range between 0.81‰ and 5.81‰) and oxygen (δ18O values range between -4.21‰ and -1.06‰) isotope composition of the skeleton which is consistent with similar pattern in modern symbiotic (zooxanthellate) corals. Irrespective of their growth forms, well preserved skeletons of corals from the Dolomites, most frequently revealed regular growth bands typical of modern symbiotic corals (with some notable exceptions). These results support the scenario that the coral-algal symbiosis that spread across various clades of Scleractinia preceded the reef bloom at the end of the Triassic.

2021.02.24. PUBLICATIONGorzelak P. (2021). Functional Micromorphology of the Echinoderm Skeleton (Elements of Paleontology). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p. 1-42. Online ISBN: 9781108893886


In a review invited paper entitled: "Functional micromorphology of the echinoderm skeleton" published in the monographic series "The Elements of Paleontology" (Cambridge University Press), a current and state-of-the-art knowledge of the microstructure of the echinoderm skeleton, with particular attention to its functional significance has been reviewed. The work has been published as a part of the series "Echinoderm Paleobiology" to accompany to presentation during the so-called the Paleontological Society Short Course during the GSA 2021 Annual Meeting of the Geological Society of America.

2021.02.22. PUBLICATION — Wolniewicz, A.S and Fostowicz-Frelik, Ł. 2021. CT-informed skull osteology of Palaeolagus haydeni (Mammalia: Lagomorpha) and its bearing on the reconstruction of the early lagomorph body plan. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution 9:634757


Palaeolagus, an early lagomorph from the Eocene–Oligocene of North America, is important for our understanding of the anatomy of the hypothetical last common ancestor of extant lagomorphs – the leporids (hares and rabbits) and ochotonids (pikas). Even though Palaeolagus was first described nearly 150 years ago and is represented by numerous well-preserved skeletons, several details of its cranial anatomy have remained unknown due to the limitations of physical preparation of its small, delicate fossils. Using micro-computed tomography and 3D imaging, numerous, previously unknown details of the cranial anatomy of Palaeolagus are reconstructed, including details of palatal and basicranial morphology. The new anatomical data allow for a better understanding of the evolution of the early lagomorph body plan and will form the basis of future studies of the phylogenetic interrelationships within Lagomorhpa in particular and Glires in general.

2021.02.19. Institute of Paleobiology in the media
In the Czech Hyde Park Civilizace programme, Dr Daniel Madzia from the Institute of Palaeobiology of the Polish Academy of Sciences spoke about his research work. We invite you to watch the material (Česká televize) Hyde Park Civilizace: Vladimír Socha, Daniel Madzia.

2021.02.05. PUBLICATION — Sachs, S., Lindgren, J., Madzia, D. & B.P. Kear. 2021. Cranial osteology of the mid-Cretaceous elasmosaurid Thalassomedon haningtoni from the Western Interior Seaway of North America. Cretaceous Research: 104769. doi:10.1016/j.cretres.2021.104769


Elasmosaurid plesiosaurs were Cretaceous marine reptiles with extremely elongated necks, some of which comprised more than 70 vertebrae (the longest-necked vertebrates to ever existed). Thalassomedon haningtoni is one of the most completely preserved elasmosaurids described to date. Unlike most other elasmosaurid fossils, both the holotype and a second referred specimen — both recovered from the middle Cenomanian (Upper Cretaceous) of North America — are represented by intact skulls with articulated postcranial skeletons. The new study presents a detailed reassessment of the cranial osteology of T. haningtoni and explores its phylogenetic affinities. T. haningtoni is a member of a lineage that inhabited the Western Interior Seaway during the middle to latest Cretaceous.

2021.01.22. PUBLICATION — Madzia, D., Szczygielski, T., and Wolniewicz, A.S. 2021. The giant pliosaurid that wasn’t—revising the marine reptiles from the Kimmeridgian, Upper Jurassic, of Krzyżanowice, Poland. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 66. doi:10.4202/app.00795.2020


A revision of marine reptile fossils from the Upper Jurassic of Krzyżanowice demonstrates that jaws previously identified as "Pliosaurus", are, in fact, historical material of a much smaller relative of modern crocodiles of uncertain origin. Turtle fossils recently described as new, also turned out to comprise entirely historical material. A tooth described as belonging to a huge, marine relative of modern crocodiles (different from the one originally assigned to "Pliosaurus") is in reality only a few millimetres long, and most likely belonged to a small fish. Therefore, the previously identified broad diversity of marine reptiles from Krzyżanowice and its importance for our understanding of the evolution and migration of marine reptiles during the Jurassic period were largely exaggerated and most of the fossils described as new have been in museum collections for decades.

2021.01.14. PUBLICATION — Březina, J., Ivanov, M. & D. Madzia. 2020. Structural pattern in the tusks of the Miocene mammutid Zygolophodon turicensis and its utility in the taxonomy of elephantimorph proboscideans. Historical Biology. doi:10.1080/08912963.2020.1853720
The cross sections of tusks of all elephantimorph proboscideans show well-developed intersecting lines that form a conspicuous net-like structure termed the Schreger pattern. This trait is usually used to discriminate the tusks of elephants from those of mammoths. The new study provides the first assessment of the structure in a Neogene elephantimorph (Zygolophodon turicensis). The results indicate that the appearance of the inner structure of elephantimorph tusks is not associated with their shape and is probably not reflective of phylogenetic affinities. Still, its appearance remains useful for species identification.

Figure: Diversity of the bending radii of Schreger lines (forming the Schreger pattern) among Elephantimorpha and the type of the Schreger pattern observable in the studied species Zygolophodon turicensis.

2021.01.07. PUBLICATION — Malik,A., Einbinder,S., Martinez,S., Tchernov, D., Haviv,S., Peled,Y., Almuly,R., Zaslansky,P., Polishchuk, I., Pokroy, B., Stolarski, J., Mass, T. 2021. Molecular and skeletal fingerprints of scleractinian coral biomineralization: From the sea surface to mesophotic depths. Acta Biomaterialia 120:263-276, doi: 10.1111/gcb.14912


This work provides a first comprehensive analysis of changes in gene expression, including biomineralization “tool kit” genes, and reports the fine-scale microstructural and crystallographic skeletal details in scleractinian coral Stylophora pistillata collected in the Red Sea along a depth gradient (from 5 to 60 m). Fine-scale skeletal variability in shallow- and mesophotic depth morphotypes suggests underlying genomic regulation of biomineralization pathways of the coral host. In particular, genes g11644 and g12678 that express CARP1 (associated with Rapid Accretion Deposits, RAD) and CARP3 proteins were upregulated at shallow depth forms; such gene expression pattern is supportted by extensive formation of fine-scale granulae (RAD's) on coeanosteal spines in shallow-water morphotypes. This study provides the molecular and physiological background of formation of some fine-scale structures (e.g., RAD's development) that can also be observed in the fossil record [partially financed by National Science centre (Poland) research grant 2017/25/B/ST10/02221].


2020.12.31. PUBLICATION — Bosellini, F., Stolarski, J., Papazzoni, C.A., Vescogni, A. 2020. Exceptional development of dissepimental coenosteum in the new Eocene scleractinian coral genus Nancygyra (Ypresian, Monte Postale, NE Italy). Bollettino della Società Paleontologica Italiana 59(3):291-298, doi:10.4435/BSPI.2020


In colonial corals, the polyps are interconnected with a common tissue called coenosarc. Polyps and coenosarc secrete distinct skeletal structures: corallites and coenosteum, respectively. Ratio of corallite to coenosteum development may vary resulting in two extreme architectural patterns of coral colonies: corallite-dominated (e.g., cerioid) and coenosteum-dominated (e.g., aphroid) colonies. In newly described colonial Nancygyra dissepimentata from Eocene of Italy, the coenosteum forms ca. 60-80% of the corallum volume and is made of vesicular convex dissepiments. Experimental studies show that dissepiments are rapid growing skeletal elements. Formation of light, dissepiment-dominated coralla may therefore be an efficient strategy to compete for space in the warm and shallow-water reef environment.

2020.12.30. PUBLICATION — Machalski, M. 2021. Correlation of shell and aptychus growth provides insights into the palaeobiology of a scaphitid ammonite. Palaeontology, 64, 2, 225-247.


Scaphitids are spectacular group of heteromorph ammonites with partially uncoiled shell. They rank among the commonest and best-known Late Cretaceous ammonites, yet many aspects of their palaeobiology are still unresolved. For the first time in a scaphitid ammonite, growth marks are identified on the moulds and aptychi (calcareous coverings of jaws) of Hoploscaphites constrictus from Upper Cretaceous deposits of Poland. Correlation of these growth marks allowed for reconstruction of successive stages of shell and aptychus growth and assessment of the growth rate, age at maturity, and the function of aptychus in these ammonites. Project financed by National Centre of Science (2015/19/B/ST10/02033).

2020.12.28. PUBLICATION — Salamon MA, Ausich WI, Brachaniec T, Płachno BJ, Gorzelak P. 2020. Uncovering the hidden diversity of Mississippian crinoids (Crinoidea, Echinodermata) from Poland. PeerJ 8:e10641;
Carboniferous sea lilies from various parts of Poland (Holy Cross Mountains, Upper Silesia, Kraków-Częstochowa Upland) were described. The fossils found are preserved as fragments of stems and, what is rare, cups and crowns. Although an accurate taxonomic determination of these findings was not possible, these remains indicate a rich diversity of crinoids in Poland during the Carboniferous.

2020.12.22. PUBLICATION — Heřmanová, Zuzana, Kvaček, Jiří, Dašková, Jiřina, and Halamski, Adam T. 2020. Plant reproductive structures and other mesofossils from Coniacian/Santonian of Lower Silesia, Poland. Palaeontologia Electronica, 23 (3): a61.
This paper is about mesofossils, that is, fossils too small to be collected in the field, but too big for standard micropalaeontological techniques. From Rakowice Małe and Żeliszów (Lower Silesia, south-western Poland) a mixed Czech and Polish team described plant mesofossils: flowers and fruits of extinct relatives of modern oaks and walnuts, conifer twigs, and spores (megaspores) of spikemosses. Fossil insect eggs are also present. The age of this fossil assemblage is about 86 million years (Cretaceous, Coniacian–Santonian boundary).

2020.12.21. PUBLICATION — Łukowiak, M. 2020. Utilizing sponge spicules in taxonomic, ecological and environmental reconstructions: a review. PeerJ;
Most sponges produce skeletal components termed spicules that are useful in taxonomic studies. When sponge die, the spicules become incorporated in the sediment and their record is used to reconstruct sponge faunas. Spicules also provide ecological and environmental information. Specific requirements of some sponges can be used to interpret the environment in which they lived. Silicon isotopes extracted from spicules, in turn, are used to reconstructs silicic acid levels of the ancient seas. This article reviews the use of sponge spicules and highlights important gaps and their utilization.

2020.12.16. PUBLICATION — Stolarski, J., Coronado, I., Murphy, J.G., Kitahara, M.V., Janiszewska, K., Mazur, M., Gothmann, A.M., Bouvier, A.S., Marin-Carbonne, J., Taylor, M.L., Quattrini, A.M., McFadden, C.S., Higgins, J.A., Robinson, L.F., Meibom, A. 2020. A modern scleractinian coral with a two-component calcite-aragonite skeleton. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America doi: 10.1073/pnas.2013316117


Until now, all of the ca. 1,800 known modern scleractinian coral species were thought to produce skeletons exclusively of aragonite. Asymbiotic Paraconotrochus antarcticus living in the Southern Ocean is the first example of an extant scleractinian that forms a two-component carbonate skeleton, with an inner structure made of high-Mg calcite and an outer structure composed of aragonite. This discovery published in PNAS adds support to the notion that the coral skeletal formation process is strongly biologically controlled. Mitophylogenomic analysis shows that P. antarcticus represents an ancient scleractinian clade, suggesting that skeletal mineralogy/polymorph of a taxon, once established, is a trait conserved throughout the evolution of that clade.

2020.11.30. PUBLICATION — Lukeneder A., Surmik D., Gorzelak P.,Niedźwiedzki R., Brachaniec T., Salamon M.A., 2020, . Bromalites from the Upper Triassic Polzberg section (Austria); insights into trophic interactions and food chains of the Polzberg palaeobiota. Scientific Reports 10: 20545;


A rich assemblage of various types of bromalites (the fossilized remains of material sourced from the digestive system) from the Reingraben Shales in Polzberg (Northern Calcareous Alps, Austria) is described for the first time. They comprise regurgitalites (fossilized oral ejecta) consisting of numerous fragments of ammonoids, and coprolites (fossilized feces) composed mainly of tiny fish remains. The size, shape and co-occurrence with skeletal remains of vertebrate predators imply that regurgitalites were likely produced by large durophagous (shell-crushing) shark Acrodus. Coprolites, in turn, were likely produced by medium-sized piscivorous actinopterygians. These discoveries are consistent with the previous hypotheses suggesting intense durophagous predation in the Triassic.

2020.11.27. PUBLICATION — Late Cretaceous mega-, meso-, and microfloras from Lower Silesia Adam T. Halamski, Jiří Kvaček, Marcela Svobodová, Ewa Durska, and Zuzana Heřmanová Acta Palaeontologica Polonica in press available online 13 Nov 2020;
About 90–85 million years ago the present territory of Europe was mostly covered by sea and land plants could grow only on islands of the so-called European Archipelago. This work concerned the East Sudetic Island (now Lower Silesia, south-western Poland). Among trees one could find relatives of modern walnuts, planes, and bald cypresses as well as representatives of extinct groups (Dewalquea). The understory was dominated by ferns. Sea coast was covered by mangroves composed of extinct salt-tolerant conifer Frenelopsis and probably also the nipa palm (known from today’s flora).

2020.11.27. PUBLICATION — Szczygielski, T. 2020. Obscure by name: solving the enigma of Chelytherium obscurum, the first described Triassic turtle. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, advance online, 1–12.;


A mystery of the first Triassic turtle solved
Chelytherium obscurum from Germany, described in 1863, was the first Triassic turtle discovered. Despite its irrefutable historic importance, virtually since its establishment this species was treated as problematic and uncertain, misunderstood, and eventually forgotten. The only graphical representation of this enigmatic material was published in 1865 as idealized pencil drawings, hampering its reliable interpretation for over 150 years. Thanks to the recent revision of all the material by dr. Tomasz Szczygielski from the Institute of Paleobiology, PAS, Chelytherium obscurum was found to be synonymous with another Triassic turtle from Germany – Proterochersis robusta, described in 1913 and closely related to Proterochersis porebensis from Poland. This means that this species is not only among the most ancient geologically and most primitive turtles known to science, but also is historically the oldest known representative of the group from that time interval. This conclusion, however, brings another problem: according to the universal naming rules used in science, the older name should be considered valid and the younger name should be abandoned. In the case of Chelytherium and Proterochersis, this is undesirable because of the troubled history of the former and a much larger prevalence of the latter name in the scientific literature. To solve this problem, a ruling by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature is necessary, which will validate the exception from the priority. The case is already registered for ruling, and the matter should be resolved within a year.

2020.11.27. PUBLICATION — Seiblitz, I.G.L., Capel, K. C. C., Stolarski, J., Quek, Z. B. R., Huang, D., Kitahara, M. V. 2020. The earliest diverging family within extant scleractinian corals recovered by mitochondrial genomes. Scientific Reports 10:20714;


The earliest evolutionary history of Scleractinia corals is shrouded in mystery. The mass appearance of Scleractinia in the fossil record, ca. 240 million years ago (in the Triassic) is marked by their astonishingly large taxonomic diversity that suggests their much deeper Paleozoic evolutionary roots. Modern gardineriids and micrabaciids represent the oldest evolutionary lineages of corals, and molecular data suggest their early Paleozoic divergence (about 425 million years ago). To date, these two groups were considered closely related, although the microstructure and macroscopic features of their skeletons were radically different. Based on all mitochondrial genes, the phylogeny published in the paper suggests that the micrabaciids were the first to diverge, being a sister group to all other scleractinians, including gardineriids. Although accurate calibration of the molecular tree is not possible now (complete mitogenomes of several important scleractinian grous are missing), the anatomical features of micrabaciid polyps suggest a close relationship with skeletonless corals (Corallimorpharia). Thus, it cannot be ruled out that micrabaciids have the most ancient biomineralization toolkit among Scleractinia.

2020.11.27. PUBLICATION — Fostowicz-Frelik Ł., Li, Q., Saha, A.. 2020. A gliriform tooth from the Eocene of the Erlian Basin (Nei Mongol, China) and the premolar morphology of anagalidan mammals at a crossroads. Diversity 12, 420;


The middle Eocene in Nei Mongol (China) was an interval of changes in mammalian fauna. A major diversification of rodents and small-sized lagomorphs occured at that time, along with the decline of mimotonids (Gomphos and Mimolagus) and anagalids. The latter was an enigmatic group of basal Euarchontoglires endemic to China and Mongolia. Here, we describe the first anagalid tooth (a P4) from the Huheboerhe classic site in the Erlian Basin. The tooth is characterized by its unique morphology intermediate between mimotonids and anagalids. This discovery is important because it demonstrates the convergent adaptations in anagalids, possibly of ecological significance.


2019.07.01. PUBLICATION Coronado, I., Fine, M., Bosellini, F.R., Stolarski, J. 2019. Impact of ocean acidification on crystallographic vital effect of the coral skeleton. Nature Communications 10:2896
Marine invertebrates such newsas corals build their skeletons in process known as biologically controlled mineralization. Crystals deposited by these organisms record valuable environmental information which can be used to reconstruct conditions in the marine realm.  Sometimes biological processes in the calcifying organism override the environmental signal, a phenomenon known as vital effect. In Coronado et al. 2019 paper, calcium carbonate skeleton of the reef-building coral Stylophora pistillata was examined following incubation in controlled conditions. Corals were grown in an aquaria system at the Interuniversity Institute for Marine Science in Eilat at treatments ranging from ambient ph 8.2 down to a pH of 7.3. For the first time the skeleton was assessed at crystallographic scale. Those formed under lower pH show systematic changes in the arrangement of skeletal crystals and distortions at atomic scale, related to altered physiology. Furthermore, it was found that under more acidic conditions, there is higher incorporation of organic matrix in the skeleton. A parameters called Crystallographic Vital Effect, show a linear correlation with the seawater pH making them a novel tool for reconstructing past ocean acidification conditions.


2019.06.21. On June 24th, 2019 Maciej Pindakiewicz (PhD student Institute of Paleobiology) will present a lecture Feeding convergence among extinct and extant ray-finned fishes – teeth of the herbivorous actinopterygians from the latest Permian of EastEuropean Platform.seminarium

seminarium2019.05.10. On May 13th, 2019 dr Denis Bates (Aberystwyth University) will present a lecture Graptolites: strange plankton of the past.
seminarium2019.04.04. On April 5th, 2019 professor Philip Currie (Canada Research Chair in Paleobiology) will present a lecture Dinosaur Hunting in Mongolia.