2022.06.07. PUBLICATIONSaha A., Baca M., Popović D., Mohammadi Z., Olsson U., and
Fostowicz-Frelik Ł. 2022. The first complete mitochondrial genome data of the pygmy rabbit Brachylagus idahoensis, the world’s smallest leporid. Data in Brief 42: 108314. doi: 10.1016/j.dib.2022.108314

We sequenced the first complete mitochondrial genome of the pygmy rabbit, Brachylagus idahoensis (17,021 bp in length; GenBank accession: OL436257). Brachylagus is the world’s smallest leporid, endemic to the USA and one of the seven monotypic genera in the family. This true fossorial rabbit is adapted to specialized sagebrush habitat. It is an important taxon in lagomorph evolutionary research, especially the phylogeny of North American leporids as well as climate dynamics and landscape genetics studies, as this species is restricted to one habitat type and can be treated as a model small herbivore in vulnerable ecosystems. The mitogenome was generated from ethanol-preserved muscle tissue DNA extract from a specimen at the Burke Museum, University of Washington, WA, USA.

seminarium2022.06.06. Seminar
13th June 2022 (Monday) 11:00 a.m., Institute of Paleobiology, PAS Warsaw, Twarda 51/55 conference room - 6th floor
prof. Michał Kowalewski (Florida Museum of Natural History) will give a seminar: "Evolutionary history of prey: 600 million years of predation in Earth’s oceans".

2022.06.02. PUBLICATIONHalamski, A.T. & Taylor, P.D. 2022. Angiosperm tree leaf as a bryozoan substrate: a case study from the Cretaceous and its taphonomic consequences. Lethaia, 55 (1.9): 1–7. doi:10.18261/let.55.1.9


Dewalquea? sp., incompletely preserved angiosperm leaf overgrown by colonies of cheilostome bryozoans. Upper Cretaceous, Coniacian; Karczmisko hill near Zbylutów, Lower Silesia, Poland. Specimen MB.Pb.2008/336, collected by W. Zimmer, 1918. Photograph and interpretive drawing (compare Halamski & Taylor 2022, figs 2, 3).

The subject of this paper is a single Cretaceous specimen collected near Lwówek Śląski, now kept in the Museum of Natural History in Berlin. It is a very rare finding: a tree leaf overgrown by marine bryozoans. This evidences that the leaf was intact for a sufficiently long time for the growth of a bryozoan colony, which is, in turn, significant for deducing the length of the transport of land plant remains from the place where they grew to the place where they were buried.

seminarium2022.05.30. Miniseminar
3rd June 2022 r. (Friday), 11:00 a.m., mgr Anwesha Saha will give a miniseminar: "Towards filling the gap: the evolutionary puzzle of living lagomorphs".

2022.05.20. PUBLICATIONKaźmierczak J. & Kremer B. 2022. Archaeocyaths: alternatively explained as consortia of siphonous algae and cyanobacteria-like microbes in shallow Cambrian seas. Palaeoworld (Elsevier), 31, p. 218–238. doi:10.1016/j.palwor.2021.08.003
The paper presents an alternative explanation of the systematic position of archaeocyaths, Cambrian calcareous fossils interpreted for over 30 years mostly as sponges (Porifera), herein treated as closely related to modern siphonous green algae, especially representatives of the genus Codium (Bryopsidales, Chlorophyta). The basis for this conclusion was the demonstration, grounded on samples from NE Siberia, that the skeleton of archaeocyaths was not an indigenous product of the siphonous algae, but the product of calcified microorganisms, close to modern cyanobacteria (Chroococcales), that overgrew the algae during their lifetime. The calcification of cyanobacterial epibiontic biofilms on siphonous green algae thalli evidences high saturation of the Cambrian sea with calcium carbonate ("calcium stress"), which should be considered one of the main causes of the mass formation of first calcareous skeletons at that time. This is an aspect of the Cambrian explosion, one of the major events in the history of life.
NCN 2015/17 / B / ST10 / 03340, leader prof. dr. hab. Józef Kaźmierczak.

2022.04.20. PUBLICATION Madzia, D., Sachs, S. & C. Klug. 2022. Historical significance and taxonomic status of Ischyrodon meriani (Pliosauridae) from the Middle Jurassic of Switzerland. PeerJ 10: e13244. doi:10.7717/peerj.13244
Ischyrodon meriani is an obscure pliosaurid taxon from the Middle Jurassic of Switzerland. Despite being described in 1838, which likely makes it the historically oldest-established pliosaurid, the type specimen of Ischyrodon remains poorly researched. The new study presents a detailed redescription of I. meriani and shows its close resemblance to Liopleurodon ferox which originates from strata of a similar age and provenance. While it is likely that I. meriani represents a Liopleurodon-like taxon, or is even conspecific with L. ferox, which would make I. meriani the proper name for the species, any such taxonomic considerations are hindered by the fragmentary nature of the type specimens of both these taxa. The new study highlights the need for a detailed taxonomic reevaluation of Liopleurodon ferox.
Reconstruction: Joschua Knüppe

2022.04.05. PUBLICATIONŁukowiak, M., Dieni, I., Dumitrica, P., Massari, F., 2022. Late Valanginian sponge spicules from north-eastern Sardinia (Italy). Cretaceous Research.


We describe very rare Early Cretaceous (Valanginian) siliceous sponges from Sardinia, Italy. The assemblage that consisted of skeletal elements (spicules) of “soft” demosponges, lithistids, and hexactinellids, links modern sponge faunas with ancient (e.g., Triassic) assemblages. The presence of spicules that belong to shallow-water sponges as well as to forms that today inhabit wide depth ranges, suggests that this Early Cretaceous assemblage lived at depths around 200 m.

2022.04.05. PUBLICATION — Calábková, G, Březina, J. & D. Madzia. 2022. Evidence of large terrestrial seymouriamorphs in the lowermost Permian of the Czech Republic. Papers in Palaeontology 8: e1428. doi:10.1002/spp2.1428


Reconstruction: Petr Modlitba

Permian deposits of the Boskovice Basin in the Czech Republic have yielded hundreds of seymouriamorph individuals (a group of extinct tetrapods). Most are referable to Discosauriscus and – with possible exception of a single specimen – represent larvae and juveniles tied to aquatic environments. The new study describes seymouriamorph tracks from the Boskovice Basin that belonged to adults tied to terrestrial environments, documenting a habitat shift that occurred relatively late in the ontogenetic development of these seymouriamorphs. The largest track is preserved with clear skin impressions, making it one of the best preserved seymouriamorph tracks described to date. One of the tracks originates from the lowermost Asselian (ca. 299 mya) and is therefore among the oldest known records of seymouriamorphs worldwide.

2022.04.04. PUBLICATION — Juszkiewicz, D. J., White, N.E., Stolarski, J., Benzoni, F., Arrigoni, R., Hoeksema, B., Wilson, N.G., Buncea, M., Richards, Z.T. 2022. Phylogeography of recent Plesiastrea (Scleractinia: Plesiastreidae) based on an integrated taxonomic approach. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 107469, doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2022.107469.
Cryptic species pose a great challenge for the traditional taxonomy and estimates of the actual species diversity: similar morphology of these species (a basis for traditional taxonomic identification) exists despite of different evolutionary history and often reproductive separation. The published work is the first such detailed phylogeographic analysis of the scleractinian coral known as Plesiastrea versipora widespread in the Indo-Pacific. The analysis of molecular data, as well as the macroscopic and microscopic skeletal features of over 80 specimens from the entire range of P. versipora, indicates existence of two distinct groups of species: forms belonging to the "temperate clade" (with the characteristics of the type of Plesiastrea versipora) and to the "tropical clade", represented by the restored species Plesiastrea peroni. The work exemplifies the utility of an integrated skeletal and molecular approach to coral taxonomy.

2022.03.11. PUBLICATIONBitner, M.A. & Müller, A. 2022. Early Oligocene brachiopods from the rocky shore deposists at Mammendorf, central Germany. Annales Societatis Geologorum Poloniae, 92(1): 87–107.

The Lower Oligocene rocky-shore deposits at Mammendorf, central Germany yielded a surprisingly rich brachiopod fauna, containing 13 species belonging to 11 genera. The short-looped Pliothyrina grandis, species restricted to the Oligocene of North Sea Basin, is most common but the predominant and most diverse group, constituting nearly 50% of the material, is the family Megathyrididae, represented by six species in the Mammendorf assemblage. The Mammendorf brachiopod fauna displays a great affinity to the Early Oligocene fauna of the Mainz Basin.

2022.03.09. PUBLICATION — Halamski, A.T., Baliński, A. & Koppka, J., 2022. Middle Devonian brachiopods from northern Maïder (eastern Anti-Atlas, Morocco). Annales Societatis Gologorum Poloniae, 92(1): 1-86. doi:
60 species of Middle Devonian brachiopods are described from Jbel Issoumour (Anti-Atlas, Morocco), an area located in terms of palaeogeography on the southern shore of the Rheic Ocean. Most of them are the same as or similar to those known from the Eifel (Germany) and the Holy Cross Mountains (Poland), areas located in the Devonian on the northern shore of the Rheic Ocean; this is a new argument in the controversy about the width of the Rheic Ocean: given the similarity of the faunas, the Ocean is likely to have been rather narrow. Two new brachiopod species are described: one of them, Prodavidsonia ebbighauseni is named in honour of Volker Ebbighausen, the amateur palaeontologist who assembled the described collection; the other one, Spinatrypa ennigaldinannae, is named in honour of Babylonian princess Ennigaldi-Nanna, curator of the oldest known museum (6th century B.C.).

Figure: Newly described Middle Devonian brachiopods from Jbel Issoumour (single shells in dorsal and lateral views, compare Halamski et al. 2022, figs 25, 28).

2022.02.18. PUBLICATION — Ausich, W.I., Salamon, M.A., Płachno, B. J., Brachaniec, T., Krawczyński, W., Boczarowski, A., Paszcza, K., Łukowiak, M., Gorzelak, P. 2022. Unraveling the hidden paleobiodiversity of the Middle Devonian (Emsian) crinoids (Crinoidea, Echinodermata) from Poland. PeerJ 10:e12842


Devonian crinoids from Holy Cross Mountains, including a new species - Codiacrinus sevastopuloi, were described. The species name is in recognition of the paleontologist working on fossil crinoids – prof. George Sevastopulo who recently passed away. The fossils found are preserved as fragments of stems and, what is rare, cups and crowns. They indicate a rich diversity of crinoids in the Devonian of Holy Cross Mountains.

2022.02.04. PUBLICATION — Gorzelak, P., Kołbuk, D., Dec, M., Oji, T., Oguri, K., Brom, K., Brachaniec, T., Paszcza, K., Salamon, M.A. 2022. Recent Advances in Ichnology of Crawling Stalked Crinoids. Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan, Vol. 34, no. 5, pp. 54-62. doi:10.7302/3815


In Contributions from the Museum of Paleontology, University of Michigan, a special volume to celebrate the retirement of Prof. Tomasz Baumiller was published. Among published articles is a paper on ichnology of stalked crinoids. The paper presents the results of analyses of time-lapse movies recording a previously unknown mode of crinoid locomotion. The traces produced by Recent crinoids on the sediment surface were documented using 3D digitization techniques (laser scanning and photogrammetry). It was stressed that the moment of key evolutionary changes in crinoids (transition from sessile to mobile lifestyle) may be identified in the fossil record with the aid of crinoid trace fossils.

2022.01.11. PUBLICATION — Cisneros-Lazaro, D., Adams, A., Guo, J., Bernard, S., Baumgartner, L.P., Daval, D., Baronnet, A., Grauby, O., Vennemann, T., Stolarski, J., Escrig. J., Meibom, A. 2022.
Fast and pervasive diagenetic isotope exchange in foraminifera tests is species-dependent. Nature Communications 13:113. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-27782-8


Paleoclimate reconstructions commonly use oxygen isotope compositions from fossil foraminifera tests as proxies. However, the isotopic composition of these calcitic tests can be substantially altered during diagenesis. In the published paper the fluid-mediated isotopic exchange was examined in pristine tests of three modern benthic foraminifera species i.e., Ammonia sp., Haynesina germanica, and Amphistegina lessonii. Reacted tests remained texturally ‘pristine’ but their bulk oxygen isotope compositions revealed rapid and species-dependent isotopic exchange with the water; diagenetic alteration is correlated with test ultra-structure and associated organic matter. The result implies that the tests that are considered texturally ‘pristine’ for paleo-climatic reconstruction purposes may have experienced substantial isotopic exchange; critical paleo-temperature record re-examination is warranted.


2021.12.28. PUBLICATIONMagdalena Łukowiak, Andrzej Pisera, Tetiana Stefanska, Vadym Stefanskyi. 2021. High diversity of siliceous sponges in Western Tethyan areas during the Eocene: palaeobiogeographical, ecological and taxonomic significance. Papers in Palaeontology.


Paratetilla milanek Łukowiak sp. nov.,; A, articulated sponge body. B, diagram of the arrangement of spicules, indicating the relative positions of the elements shown in C–H. Scale bars: 5 mm (A, B); 20 μm (C–H; C′–H′).

Sponges are important components of modern and fossil aquatic environments. However, little is known about their communities that inhabited the Tethyan areas during the Cenozoic. We recorded a surprisingly rich sponge spicule assemblage of the middle–late Eocene from east-central Ukraine. The sponge community comprised at least 34 sponge taxa (including demosponges, hexactinellids and a homoscleromorph) and inhabited shallow, 100-m-deep waters. Two new demosponge taxa, Paratetilla milanek and Theonella alexandriae Łukowiak were established. Additionally, we report the first fossil occurrence of Vetulina, a demosponge genus that currently lives near the Australia and Philippines and in the Caribbean Sea. Some of the sponge taxa recognized were previously noted from the upper Eocene of Australia and New Zealand. This is indicative of their wide distribution during the early Cenozoic and also shows that a non-interrupted connection existed between the western Tethyan and peri-Australian areas.

2021.12.17. PUBLICATION — Madzia, D., Arbour, V.M., Boyd, C.A., Farke, A.A., Cruzado-Caballero, P., Evans, D.C. 2021. The phylogenetic nomenclature of ornithischian dinosaurs. PeerJ 9: e12362. doi:10.7717/peerj.12362.
Ornithischians represent one of the three major radiations of dinosaurs. Throughout their evolutionary history, exceeding 134 million years, ornithischians evolved considerable diversity and morphological disparity, expressed especially through the cranial and osteodermal features of their most distinguishable representatives. The new study provides detailed nomenclatural revision of Ornithischia; it reviews the recent and historical use of 76 ornithischian clade names and establishes their phylogenetic definitions in accordance with the newly implemented International Code of Phylogenetic Nomenclature. Additionally, it introduces five new clade names: two for robustly supported clades of later-diverging hadrosaurids and ceratopsians, one uniting heterodontosaurids and genasaurs, and two for clades of nodosaurids. The study marks a key step towards a formal phylogenetic nomenclature of ornithischian dinosaurs.

2021.12.17. PUBLICATION — Cau, A. & D. Madzia. 2021. The phylogenetic affinities and morphological peculiarities of the bird-like dinosaur Borogovia gracilicrus from the Upper Cretaceous of Mongolia. PeerJ 9: e12640. doi:10.7717/peerj.12640


Borogovia gracilicrus is a theropod dinosaur from the uppermost Cretaceous of Mongolia. It was discovered during the 1971 Polish-Mongolian paleontological expedition to the Nemegt Basin. The new paper provides a detailed restudy of the type material of B. gracilicrus, focusing especially on the morphology of its second toe. The toe of Borogovia is peculiar because it lacks the characteristic falciform (‘sickle-clawed’) ungual, a feature that is common for its relatives. The new study explores the evolution of the specialized ‘sickle-clawed’ second toe (the acquisition of what is proposed to call the ‘falciphoran condition’) of early-diverging paravians and describes the osteological features that form the condition.
Reconstruction: Edyta Felcyn-Kowalska

2021.12.15. PUBLICATION — Zverkov, N. G., Grigoriev, D. V., Wolniewicz, A. S., Konstantinov, A. G., and Sobolev, E. S. 2021. Ichthyosaurs from the Upper Triassic (Carnian–Norian) of the New Siberian Islands, Russian Arctic, and their implications for the evolution of the ichthyosaurian basicranium and vertebral column. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1-24. doi:10.1017/S1755691021000372.


The Late Triassic (ca. 225 million years ago) was an important period in the evolutionary history of ichthyosaurs, which saw the rise of their advanced ‘fish-shaped’ representatives. However, the evolution of ichthyosaurs in the Late Triassic is incompletely known due their sparse fossil record from this time interval. The new article describes Late Triassic ichthyosaur faunas from the New Siberian Islands in the Russian Far East, including a new species – Auroroborealia incognita. This new ichthyosaur was likely closely related to the ancestors of the „fish-shaped” ichthyosaurs, as demonstrated by its mosaic anatomy, comprising both primitive and advanced features.
Reconstruction: Andrey Atuchin

2021.11.26. PUBLICATION — Machalski, M., Owocki, K., Dubicka, Z., Malchyk, O. & Wierny, W. 2021. Stable isotopes and predation marks shed new light on ammonoid habitat depth preferences. Scientific Reports 11, 22730 (2021).
Stable isotopes and predation marks shed new light on ammonoid habitat depth preferences

Ammonoids are extinct cephalopods with external shells which predominated in late Paleozoic and Mesozoic marine ecosystems. Habitat depth belongs to crucial parameters of their palaeoecology and is essential for understanding of ammonoid evolution and extinction. In order to reconstruct the habitat depth preferences of a Late Cretaceous scaphitid ammonoid from Poland, we applied a combination of stable isotope data from aptychi (calcitic elements of ammonoid lower jaw) and co-occurring foraminifera with an analysis of predation marks preserved on scaphitid specimens. Our results document a change in depth preferences of the scaphitid studied and suggest that ammonoids could have been more flexible in their depth related behaviour than anticipated.

Caption to illustration 1: The inferred shift in habitat depth preferences of Hoploscaphites constrictus along with shallowing of the sea at the Chełm site, Poland.
Caption to illustration 2: Positions of studied scaphitids and foraminifera in the water column of the shallowing Maastrichtian sea, based on mean palaeotemperatures gained from δ18O data from their fossils.
Work financed by the National Science Centre, Poland (Grant 2015/19/B/ST10/02033).

2021.11.12. PUBLICATION — Pisera, A., Łukowiak, M., Sylvie Masse,Tabachnick, K.,Fromont, J., Ehrlich, H. and Bertolino, M., 2021. Insights into the structure and morphogenesis of the giant basal spicule of the glass sponge Monorhaphis chuni. Frontiers in Zoology (2021) 18:58.
The results of new research on the giant siliceous basal spicule of the deep water sponge Monorhaphis chuni complemente and partially undermine previous observations and interpretations of the structure of these spicules. We identified and described four morphologically and structurally different layers/zones in its construction, explained their relations, and proposed their functional role. As a result, we proposed a new model of growth of the basal spicule of Monorhaphis chuni, substantially different from the model that is currently accepted. At the same time, we showed that the spicule of Monorhaphis cannot be a structural model for other spicules of hexactinellid sponges, because of its unique function which determines its structure..

2021.11.09. PUBLICATION — Zapalski, M.K., Król, J.J., Halamski, A.T., Wrzołek, T., Rakociński, M. & Baird, A.H. 2021. Coralliths of tabulate corals from the Devonian of the Holy Cross Mountains (Poland). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 585: 110745.
The authors described coralliths (unattached coral colonies passively rotated by water movement) constructed by tabulate corals (an extinct group of Palaeozoic anthozoans). They have been found in the Devonian of Jaźwica, Kowala, and Miłoszów in the Holy Cross Mountains (Poland). The majority of coralliths are known from very shallow environments, whereas the material described here is from deeper settings, a rare situation among both Recent and fossil anthozoans. Analogous coralliths are reported from the Wistari Channel (Southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia).

Figure caption: A corallith constructed by the tabulate coral Favosites goldfussi, Miłoszów (Holy Cross Mts., Poland), Middle Devonian, maximum length about 25 mm, collections of the Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences. Compare fig. 3B [here]

seminarium2021.10.18. Seminar
On October 21st, 2021 (Thursday), at 11:00, on the zoom online platform prof. Bruce Rothschild (Indiana University Health Research Associate, Carnegie Museum) will present a lecture "History of disease as told by surviving skeletons: Zoological/Paleontological Implications".

Once you have mastered a database, opportunities in paleopathology are limited only by your imagination. The seminar will share the culmination of five decades of research, establishing the character of disease, its population spectrum, and establishing manifestations as trans-phylogenetic and trans-chronologic. Predicated on documentation of disease in the human and veterinary record, the paleontologic record provides unique insights to the diseases/pathologies we share with most creatures that have transited the earth.

2021.10.14. PUBLICATION — 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!
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PASIFIC Postdoctoral Fellowships | Prof. Paweł Rowiński Polish Academy of Sciences
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Important documents
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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].

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