Department of Evolutionary Paleobiology

Adam URBANEK, Ph.D., D.Sc., Professor

Graptolites, fossil and extant pterobranchs. Evolutionary biology, philosophical aspects of life and earthsciences. Ongoing research: homology of stolon system in pterobranchs and sessile Graptolithina, study on Mastigograptus


Personal data

Adam Urbanek
born 15 April 1928 in Krosno nad Wisłokiem, Poland
died 3 June 2014 in Warsaw, Poland

Titles and memberships
  • 1996 Foreign member of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • 1986 Full member of the Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 1973 Corresponding member of the Polish Academy of Sciences
  • 1970 Assistant professor in palaeozoology, University of Warsaw
  • 1960 D.Sc. in palaeozoology, University of Warsaw
  • 1956 Ph.D. in geology, University of Warsaw
  • 1952 M.Sc. in zoology and comparative anatomy, University of Warsaw

Main scientific achievements
  • discovery that internal portions of the dendroid thecae have their homologoues in stolon system of extant Rhabdopleura
  • biochemical studies on the extant pterobranch material collected by the Polish Antarctic Expeditions and indicating that their organic skeletons are made chiefly of the collagen
  • evidence presented that regeneration of fragmented graptoloid colonies may be treated as a natural experiment confirming the earlier suggested morphogen gradient theory
  • first studies on skeletal tissues of graptolites with TEM, redefinition of their fabrics in ultrastructural terms and identification of their main constituent as collagen
  • discovery of new graptolite faunas from the bore-core material of the Polish Lowland filling the gape between British and Bohemian sequences and representing previously unknown evolutionary trends
  • evidence provided that evolutionary novelties may be introduced into monograptid colonies both proximally as well as distally and then are spreading in opposite direction
  • discovery that the evolution of many Late Silurian monograptid lineages was based on the microfusellar tissue as the main structural element of their elaborated apertutal features
  • interpretation of graptoloid colonies as clonal systems with an attempt at explanation of their astogenetic changes by a gradient of morphogen produced by the oozooid
  • 2014 Research project: „Morphology, ultratucture and taxonomic revision of selected groups of fossil hemichordates” (KBN 3 P04C 03522), studies are associated with preparation of 3rd edition of the Graptolite Volume of the Treatise on Invertebrate Paleontology

  • Evolutionary biology at the Faculty of Geology, Warsaw University
  • Evolutionary biology at the Faculty of Agriculture (specialization in biology), Academy of Agriculture


Selected papers

Pożaryska, K. and  Urbanek, А. 1956. Sur l'evolution de Lagena sulcatiformis n. sp. dans le Cretace superieur ein Pologne. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 01 (2), 113-134. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1958. Monograptidae from erratic boulders of Poland. Palaeontologia Polonica 09, 1-126. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1959. Studies on graptolites 1. Development and structure of Pristiograptus gotlandicus (Perner). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 04 (1), 11-26. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1959. Studies on graptolites II. On the development and structure of graptolite. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 04 (3), 279-338. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1960. An attempt at biological interpretation of evolutionary changes in graptolite colonies. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 05 (2), 127-233. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1963. On generation and regeneration of cladia in some Upper Silurian monograptids. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 08 (2), 135-254. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1966. On the morphology and evolution of the Cucullograptinae (Monograptidae, Graptolithina). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 11 (3-4), 291-544. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1976.The problem of graptolite affinities in the light of ultrastructural studies on peridermal derivatives in pterobranchs. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 21 (1), 3-36. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1976.Ultrastructure of microfuselli and the evolution of graptolite skeletal tissues
Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 21 (4), 315-331. [text]

Urbanek, А. and Mierzejewska, G. 1977.The fine structure of zooidal tubes in Sabelliditida and Pogonophora with reference to their affinity. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 22 (3), 223-240. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1978. Significance of ultrastructural studies for graptolite research. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 23 (4), 1978: 595-629. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1978.Some remarks on colony organization in graptolites. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 23 (4), 1978: 631-635. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1979.Ultrastructure ot the sicula in the tuboid graptolite Kozlowskitubus erraticus (Kozłowski, 1963). Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 24 (4), 1979: 493-503. [text]

Urbanek, А., Mierzejewska, G., and Mierzejewski, P. 1980.Scanning electron microscopy of sessile graptolites. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 25 (2), 1980: 197-212. [text]

Urbanek, А. 1983.The significance of graptoblasts in the life cycle of crustoid graptolites. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 28 (3-4), 1983: 313-326. [text]

Urbanek, A. 1990. Reproductive strategy and the life cycle in graptoloid colonies. Lethaia 23: 333-340. [text-journal site]

Urbanek, A. and Uchmański, J. 1990. Morphogenesis of uniaxiate graptoloid colonies - a mathematical model. Paleobiology 16: 49-61. [text-journal site]

Urbanek, A. and Mierzejewski P. 1991. The fine structure of camaroid graptolite. Lethaia 24: 129-137. [text-journal site]

Urbanek, A. 1991. Współczesne niekonwencjonalne teorie ewolucji. Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe, Warszawa. 123-144.

Urbanek, A. Mierzejewski, P., Bengtson, S. 1992. Fine structure of the earliest known rhabdopleurid. Lethaia 25, 349-350. [text-journal site]

Urbanek, A. 1993. Biotic crises in the history of Upper Silurian graptoloids: a Palaeobiological model. Historical Biology 7: 29-50. [text-journal site]

N.Koren', T. and Urbanek, A. 1994. Adaptive radiation of monograptids after the Late Wenlock crisis. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 39 (2), 137-167. [text]

Urbanek, A. 1995. Phyletic evolution of the Latest Ludlow spinose monograptids. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 40: 1-17. [text]

Urbanek, A. 1996. The origin and maintenance of diversity: a case study of Upper Silurian graptoloids. Systematic Biology as an Historical Science, Memorie della Societa Italiana di Scienze Naturali e del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Milano XXVI: 119-127.

Urbanek, A. 1997. Late Ludfordian and early Přidolí monograptids from the Polish Lowland. Palaeontologia Polonica 56: 87-232. [text]

Urbanek, A. 1997. The emergence and evolution of linograptoids. In: Urbanek, A., Teller, L. (eds) Silurian Graptolite Faunas of the East European Platform: Stratigraphy and Evolution. Palaeontologia Polonica 56: 233-269. [text]

Urbanek, A. 1998. Oligophyly and evolutionary parallelism: lesson from a phylogenetic debate. In A. Hoffman and M. Nitecki (eds.) Problematic Fossil Taxa: 184-225. Oxford University Press, New York .

Urbanek, A. 1998. Pantopic speciation in pelagic organisms. In: IOC Workshop Report 142 Pelagic Biogeography ICOPBII. Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission: 366-371.

Urbanek, A. 1998. Oligophyly and evolutionary parallelism: A case study of Silurian graptolites. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 43 (4), 549-572. [text]

Urbanek, A. and Dilly P.N. 2000. The stolon system in Rhabdopleura compacta (Hemichordata) and its phylogenetic implications. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 45: 201-226. [text]

Urbanek, A. 2000. Rodowód intelektualny klasycznych teorii ewolucyjnych. Sacrum i kultura. In: Chrześcijańskie korzenie przyszłości. Towarzystwo Naukowe KUL 8: 147-158.

Urbanek, A. 2001. Phenogenetics of graptoloid colonies. In: Modern Problems of Radiobiology, Radioecology and Evolution. Proceedings of the International Conference dedicated to the Centenary of the Birth of N. W. Timofeef-Ressovsky, 326-336, JINR, Dubna.

Bates D.E.B. and Urbanek, A. 2002. The ultrastructure, development, and systematic position of the graptolite genus Mastigograptus. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 47: 445-458. [text]

Urbanek, A. 2003. Organization and evolution of animal colonies. Biology Bulletin 30, 1-8 (translated from Izvestiya Akademii Nauk, Seriya Biologiczeskaya 1: 5-13).

Urbanek, A. 2004. Morphogenetic gradients in graptolites and bryozoans. Acta Palaentologica Polonica 4: 485-504. [text]

Mierzejewski, P. and Urbanek, A. 2004. The morphology and fine structure of the Ordovician Cephalodiscus – like genus Melanostrophus. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 49, 4, 519-528. [text]

Mierzejewski, P., Kulicki, C., and  Urbanek, A. 2005. The world's oldest crustoid graptolites from the upper Tremadocian of Poland. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 50 (4), 721-724. [text]

Urbanek, A. and Mierzejewski, P. 2009. The ultrastructure and building of graptolite dissepiments. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54 (2), 243-252. [text]

Urbanek, A., Radzevičius, S., Kozłowska, A., and Teller, L. 2012. Phyletic evolution and iterative speciation in the persistent Pristiograptus dubius lineage. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 57 (3), 589-611. [text]