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Vertebrate Paleobiology

Research topics

Our research group studies the evolution of vertebrates, based on the fossil record. Our main focus is the comparative anatomy of the skeletal system, used to reconstruct anatomical function, which helps us understand the lifestyle of fossil organisms, as well as evolutionary trajectories (phylogenetics). In addition, our topics include: paleoneurology, organism decay and fossilization (taphonomy), and paleoenvironmental reconstructions. We are interested in the study of several vertebrate groups, primarily: lizards, dinosaurs, conodonts, ray-finned fish, lungfish, and primates. We lead regular excavations in various paleontological sites across Poland, covering a broad geological time range (mainly Devonian, Permian, Triassic, and Miocene).


Mechanical and chemical preparation of fossils, scanning electron microscopy, computed tomography, electromagnetic and density separation of sediment, differential staining of tissues, Dental Topographic Analysis, phylogenetic analysis.

Research projects

ongoing projects

  • Early Mesozoic diversification of the neopterygian fish (PhD project; doctoral student: Wojciech Pawlak; supervisor: Jerzy Dzik; ongoing)
  • The origin of modern ray-finned fish (NCN Preludium-22; principal investigator: Wojciech Pawlak; 2024-2027)
  • New Miocene land vertebrates from the northwestern Paratethys shores and their implications for Eurasian faunal exchange (NCN OPUS-24; principal investigator: Mateusz Tałanda; contractors: Sergi López-Torres & Marcin Górka; postdoctoral researcher: Yohan Pochat-Cottilloux; 2023-2027)
  • Ancestral behaviour and evolutionary origins of lorises (Primates, Mammalia): new insights into their sensory evolution and dietary reconstruction of fossil forms (NCN OPUS-23; principal investigator: Sergi López-Torres; postdoctoral researcher: Holly Anderson; research assistant: Adam Lis; 2022-2025)
  • Historical biogeography and diversity of the ornithischian dinosaurs from the Jurassic and Cretaceous of the European archipelago (NCN OPUS-23; principal investigator: Daniel Madzia; contractor: Łukasz Czepiński; 2022-2025)
  • The enigma of Cheilonipus ispp.: Middle Triassic turtles or locomotor convergence? (NCN OPUS-20; principal investigator: Tomasz Szczygielski; contractors: Wojciech Pawlak & Przemysław Świś; 2021-2025)

previous projects

  • Early diversification of archosaurs at the dawn of the Dinosaur Era (NCN Preludium; principal investigator: Łukasz Czepiński; 2020-2023)
  • Palaeogeographic maps of the Permian non-marine basins of Central Europe (NCN Harmonia-9; principal investigator: Tadeusz Peryt; contractor: Wojciech Pawlak; 2018-2023)
  • Impact of the Late Devonian and earliest Carboniferous environmental disturbances on faunal dynamics and evolution of conodonts (PhD project; doctoral student: Przemysław Świś; supervisors: Jerzy Dzik & Tomasz Szczygielski; 2022)
  • Time and space coordinates of the Late Cretaceous vertebrate succession in the Gobi Desert (NCN ETIUDA; principal investigator: Łukasz Czepiński; 2020-2022)
  • Functional anatomy of Silesaurus opolensis (PhD project; doctoral student: Rafał Piechowski; supervisors: Jerzy Dzik & Mateusz Tałanda; 2021)
  • Time and space coordinates of the Late Cretaceous vertebrate succession in the Gobi Desert (PhD project; doctoral student: Łukasz Czepiński; supervisors: Jerzy Dzik & Mateusz Tałanda; 2021)
  • Ecological diversity of the Triassic fishes in the light of geochemical methods (IDUB Microgrant UW; principal investigator: Wojciech Pawlak; 2021)
  • The early evolution of squamate and rynchocephalian skull (NCN Preludium; principal investigator: Mateusz Tałanda; 2015-2017)

Topics of Master’s and Bachelor’s theses

Functional anatomy and relationship among Mesozoic and Cenozoic vertebrates, early evolution of lizards, population dynamics of conodonts, behaviour of extinct organisms.

  • Lis A. A virtual cranial endocast of the Miocene primate Mioeuoticus shipmani (Lorisidae, Strepsirrhini) from Kenya. 2023. (Master’s thesis, Biology)
  • Olender E. Biogeography of plesiosaur ancestors at the dawn of the dinosaur era. 2023. (Bachelor’s thesis, Biology)
  • Witasik M. Histology and osteology of the sauropod femur from Baynshire Formation. 2023 . (Master’s thesis, Biology)
  • Audycki J. Anagenetic evolution of olenellid trilobites in the Early Cambrian of Siberia. 2023.  (Master’s thesis, MiSMAP)
  • Bałdowski B. The fossil record of chilopod myriapods. 2021. (Bachelor’s thesis, Biology)
  • Rytel A. Modularity of the neck in Tanystropheidae revealed by geometric morphometrics. 2021. (Master’s thesis, Biology)
  • Mermer J. Variability in conchostracan carapaces from the Middle Triassic of Tunisia. 2017. (Master’s thesis, Biology)
  • Tobolska A. Variability and population dynamics of the late Devonian conodont Pseudopolygnathus. 2017. (Master’s thesis, Biology)
  • Pawlak W. Evolution of ganoid fish. 2017. (Bachelor’s thesis, Biology)
  • Czepiński Ł. Ontogensis and variability of the horned dinosaur Bagaceratops from the late Cretaceous of Mongolia. 2017. (Master’s thesis, Biology)

Publications review


Voigt, Sebastian; Calábková, Gabriela; Ploch, Izabela; Nosek, Vojtěch; Pawlak, Wojciech; Raczyński, Paweł; Spindler, Frederik; Werneburg, Ralf

A diadectid skin impression and its implications for the evolutionary origin of epidermal scales Journal Article

In: Biology Letters, vol. 20, no. 5, pp. 20240041, 2024.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Rytel, Adam; Böhmer, Christine; Spiekman, Stephan N. F.; Tałanda, Mateusz

Extreme neck elongation evolved despite strong developmental constraints in bizarre Triassic reptiles—implications for neck modularity in archosaurs Journal Article

In: Royal Society Open Science, vol. 11, no. 5, pp. 240233, 2024.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Selig, Keegan R.; López-Torres, Sergi; Burrows, Anne M.; Silcox, Mary T.

Dental Topographic Analysis of Living and Fossil Lorisoids: Investigations into Markers of Exudate Feeding in Lorises and Galagos Journal Article

In: International Journal of Primatology, vol. 0, no. 0, pp. 0-0, 2024.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Dzik, Jerzy

Aplacophoran traits in the late Ordovician septemchitonid polyplacophorans Journal Article

In: Journal of Morphology, vol. 285, no. 5, pp. e21700, 2024.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Czepiński, Łukasz; Madzia, Daniel

Osteology, phylogenetic affinities, and palaeobiogeographic significance of the bizarre ornithischian dinosaur Ajkaceratops kozmai from the Late Cretaceous European archipelago Journal Article

In: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, pp. zlae048, 2024, ISSN: 0024-4082.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Selig, Keegan R.; López-Torres, Sergi; Burrows, Anne M.; Silcox, Mary T.; Meng, Jin

Dental caries in living and extinct strepsirrhines with insights into diet Journal Article

In: The Anatomical Record, vol. 307, iss. 6, pp. 1995-2006, 2024.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Sulej, Tomasz; Machalski, Marcin; Tałanda, Mateusz

New finds of Olenekian, Early Triassic, trematosaurid amphibians and prolocophonid reptiles from Poland Journal Article

In: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 49–56, 2024.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX


Świś, Przemysław

Anagenetic evolution and peramorphosis of a latest Devonian conodont from Holy Cross Mountain (Poland) Journal Article

In: Journal of Micropalaeontology, vol. 42, no. 2, pp. 193–210, 2023.

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Czepiński, Łukasz; Pawlak, Wojciech; Rytel, Adam; Tałanda, Mateusz; Szczygielski, Tomasz; Sulej, Tomasz

A new Middle Triassic vertebrate assemblage from Miedary (southern Poland) Journal Article

In: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, vol. 0, no. 0, pp. e2265445, 2023.

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Žliobaitė, Indrė; Fortelius, Mikael; Bernor, Raymond L.; Ostende, Lars W. Hoek; Janis, Christine M.; Lintulaakso, Kari; Säilä, Laura K.; Werdelin, Lars; Casanovas-Vilar, Isaac; Croft, Darin A.; Flynn, Lawrence J.; Hopkins, Samantha S. B.; Kaakinen, Anu; Kordos, László; Kostopoulos, Dimitris S.; Pandolfi, Luca; Rowan, John; Tesakov, Alexey; Vislobokova, Innessa; Zhang, Zhaoqun; Aiglstorfer, Manuela; Alba, David M.; Arnal, Michelle; Antoine, Pierre-Olivier; Belmaker, Miriam; Bilgin, Melike; Boisserie, Jean-Renaud; Borths, Matthew R.; Cooke, Siobhán B.; Dam, Jan A.; Delson, Eric; Eronen, Jussi T.; Fox, David; Friscia, Anthony R.; Furió, Marc; Giaourtsakis, Ioannis X.; Holbrook, Luke; Hunter, John; López-Torres, Sergi; Ludtke, Joshua; Minwer-Barakat, Raef; Made, Jan; Mennecart, Bastien; Pushkina, Diana; Rook, Lorenzo; Saarinen, Juha; Samuels, Joshua X.; Sanders, William; Silcox, Mary T.; Vepsäläinen, Jouni

The NOW Database of Fossil Mammals Book Chapter

In: Casanovas-Vilar, Isaac; Ostende, Lars W. Hoek; Janis, Christine M.; Saarinen, Juha (Ed.): Evolution of Cenozoic Land Mammal Faunas and Ecosystems: 25 Years of the NOW Database of Fossil Mammals, pp. 33–42, Springer International Publishing, Cham, 2023, ISBN: 978-3-031-17491-9.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Szczygielski, Tomasz; Piechowski, Rafał

Limb anatomy of the Triassic turtles: appendicular osteology of Proterochersis (Testudinata, Proterochersidae) Journal Article

In: Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, pp. zlad057, 2023, ISSN: 0024-4082.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Czepiński, Łukasz

Skull of a dromaeosaurid Shri devi from the Upper Cretaceous of the Gobi Desert suggests convergence to the North American forms Journal Article

In: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, vol. 68, 2023.

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López-Torres, Sergi; Bertrand, Ornella C.; Lang, Madlen M.; Fostowicz-Frelik, Łucja; Silcox, Mary T.; Meng, Jin

Cranial endocast of Anagale gobiensis (Anagalidae) and its implications for early brain evolution in Euarchontoglires Journal Article

In: Palaeontology, vol. 66, no. 3, pp. e12650, 2023.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

López-Torres, Sergi; Bhagat, Raj; Bertrand, Ornella C.; Silcox, Mary T.; Fostowicz-Frelik, Łucja

Locomotor behavior and hearing sensitivity in an early lagomorph reconstructed from the bony labyrinth Journal Article

In: Ecology and Evolution, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. e9890, 2023.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Silcox, Mary T.; López-Torres, Sergi

Primate Origins: The Earliest Primates and Euprimates and Their Role in the Evolution of the Order Book Chapter

In: Chapter 22, pp. 365-380, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2023, ISBN: 9781119828075.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Silcox, Mary T; Bertrand, Ornella C; Harrington, Arianna R; Lang, Madlen M; Martin-Flores, Gabriela A San; López-Torres, Sergi

Early Evolution of the Brain in Primates and Their Close Kin Book Chapter

In: Dozo, María Teresa; Paulina-Carabajal, Ariana; Macrini, Thomas E; Walsh, Stig (Ed.): Chapter 12, pp. 457–506, Springer Cham, Switzerland, 2023, ISBN: 978-3-031-13983-3.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Scott, Craig S; López-Torres, Sergi; Silcox, Mary T; Fox, Richard C

New paromomyids (Mammalia, Primates) from the Paleocene of southwestern Alberta, Canada, and an analysis of paromomyid interrelationships Journal Article

In: Journal of Paleontology, pp. 1–22, 2023.

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Uhlik, Marcin; Brzeziński, Tomasz

Embryogeny of Bosmina longirostris (O. F. Müller, 1785) (Bosminidae) confirms a close relationship to the superfamily Eurycercoidea (Branchiopoda, Cladocera, Anomopoda) Journal Article

In: Crustaceana, vol. 95, iss. 8-9, pp. 907-923, 2022.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Tałanda, Mateusz; Fernandez, Vincent; Panciroli, Elsa; Evans, Susan E; Benson, Roger J

Synchrotron tomography of a stem lizard elucidates early squamate anatomy Journal Article

In: Nature, vol. 611, no. 7934, pp. 99-104, 2022.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

López-Torres, Sergi

Primate Evolution and the Emergence of Humans (Vertebrate Life 11th ed.) Book Chapter

In: Pough, Harvey; Bemis, William E.; McGuire, Betty Anne; Janis, Christine M. (Ed.): Chapter 24, pp. 557-585, Oxford University Press, New York, 11, 2022, ISBN: 978-0197564882.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Grau-Camats, Montserrat; Bertrand, Ornella C; Prieto, Jérome; López-Torres, Sergi; Silcox, Mary T; Casanovas-Vilar, Isaac

A Miopetaurista (Rodentia, Sciuridae) cranium from the Middle Miocene of Bavaria (Germany) and brain evolution in flying squirrels Journal Article

In: Papers in Palaeontology, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. e1454, 2022.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Dzik, Jerzy; Phong, Nguyen Duc; Thuy, Nguyen Thi; Swiś, Przemyslaw

Evolution and migration of conodonts and ammonoids near the end of Devonian recorded in distant localities Journal Article

In: Stratigraphy, vol. 19, no. 1, pp. 27-50, 2022.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Pawlak, Wojciech; Rozwalak, Piotr; Sulej, Tomasz

Triassic fish faunas from Miedary (Upper Silesia, Poland) and their implications for understanding paleosalinity Journal Article

In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 590, pp. 110860, 2022, ISSN: 0031-0182.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX


Leonhard, Isabella; Shirley, Bryan; Murdock, Duncan J E; Repetski, John; Jarochowska, Emilia

Growth and feeding ecology of coniform conodonts Journal Article

In: PeerJ, vol. 9, pp. e12505, 2021, ISSN: 2167-8359.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Czepiński, Łukasz; Dróżdż, Dawid; Szczygielski, Tomasz; Tałanda, Mateusz; Pawlak, Wojciech; Lewczuk, Antoni; Rytel, Adam; Sulej, Tomasz

An Upper Triassic Terrestrial Vertebrate Assemblage from the Forgotten Kocury Locality (Poland) with a New Aetosaur Taxon Journal Article

In: Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, pp. e1898977, 2021.

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Świś, Przemysław

A new Devonian species of the enigmatic Carboniferous conodont Dollymae Journal Article

In: Palaeoworld, 2021, ISSN: 1871-174X.

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Dzik, Jerzy

Protaspis larva of an aglaspidid-like arthropod from the Ordovician of Siberia and its habitat Journal Article

In: Arthropod Structure & Development, vol. 61, pp. 101026, 2021, ISSN: 1467-8039.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX


Sulej, Tomasz; Krzesiński, Grzegorz; Tałanda, Mateusz; Wolniewicz, Andrzej S.; Błażejowski, Błażej; Bonde, Niels; Gutowski, Piotr; Sienkiewicz, Maksymilian; Niedźwiedzki, Grzegorz

The earliest-known mammaliaform fossil from Greenland sheds light on origin of mammals Journal Article

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117, no. 43, pp. 26861-26867, 2020.

Links | BibTeX

Sulej, Tomasz; Niedźwiedzki, Grzegorz; Tałanda, Mateusz; Dróżdż, Dawid; Hara, Ewa

A new early Late Triassic non-mammaliaform eucynodont from Poland Journal Article

In: Historical Biology, vol. 32, no. 1, pp. 80-92, 2020.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Pawlak, Wojciech; Tałanda, Mateusz; Sulej, Tomasz; Niedźwiedzki, Grzegorz

Dipnoan from the Upper Triassic of East Greenland and remarks about palaeobiogeography of Ptychoceratodus Journal Article

In: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, vol. 65, pp. 561-574, 2020.


Pindakiewicz, Maciej; Tałanda, Mateusz; Sulej, Tomasz; Niedźwiedzki, Grzegorz; Sennikov, A G; Bakayev, A; Bulanov, V V; Golubev, V; Minikh, A V

Feeding convergence among ray-finned fishes: teeth of the herbivorous actinopterygians from the latest Permian of East European Platform, Russia Journal Article

In: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, vol. 65, no. 1, pp. 71–79, 2020.


Piechowski, Rafał; Tałanda, Mateusz

The locomotor musculature and posture of the early dinosauriform Silesaurus opolensis provides a new look into the evolution of Dinosauromorpha Journal Article

In: Journal of Anatomy, vol. 236, no. 6, pp. 1044-1100, 2020.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Świś, Przemysław; Broda, Krzysztof; Duda, Piotr; Dróżdż, Dawid; Łazuka, Anna

The early Famennian (Late Devonian) conodonts natural assemblages from Holy Cross Mountains (Poland) Journal Article

In: Historical Biology, vol. 0, no. 0, pp. 1-8, 2020.

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Świś, Przemysław; Dzik, Jerzy

The oral apparatus composition of the Early Carboniferous elictognathid conodont 'Siphonodella' Journal Article

In: Lethaia, 2020, (Publisher: Wiley).

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Czepiński, Łukasz

New protoceratopsid specimens improve the age correlation of the Upper Cretaceous Gobi Desert strata Journal Article

In: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, vol. 65, 2020.


Czepiński, Łukasz

Ontogeny and variation of a protoceratopsid dinosaur Bagaceratops rozhdestvenskyi from the Late Cretaceous of the Gobi Desert Journal Article

In: Historical Biology, vol. 32, no. 10, pp. 1394–1421, 2020.

Abstract | Links | BibTeX

Dzik, Jerzy

Decline in diversity of early Palaeozoic loosely coiled gastropod protoconchs Journal Article

In: Lethaia, vol. 53, no. 1, pp. 32–46, 2020.


Dzik, Jerzy

Ordovician conodonts and the Tornquist Lineament Journal Article

In: Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 549, 2020.


Dzik, Jerzy

Variability of conch morphology in a cephalopod species from the Cambrian to Ordovician transition strata of Siberia Journal Article

In: Acta Palaeontologica Polonica, vol. 65, pp. 149–165, 2020, (Publisher: Polska Akademia Nauk Instytut Paleobiologii (Institute of Paleobiology, Polish Academy of Sciences)).

Links | BibTeX