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Functional morphology

Functional adaptations of marine invertebrates are analyzed, especially with the focus on anti-predator stratergies that allow the organism to survive in its ecosystem. Research focus is also on structural elements that promote the transition of echinoid remains into the fossil sedimentary record.

Structural integration of morphological structures is analyzed using computational techniques including scanning electron microscopy and x-ray micro-computed tomography. Resulting 3d models of the invertebrate's skeleton are the basis for advanced technical investigations such as structural mechanical analyses.

Visualization of 3d data is used to explorer the integration and interconnection of multi-functional structures and their multi-structural functions.

Functional morphology of echinoids

Comparative analyses of morphological structures along echinoids are conducted to understand their functions. Interpretations in context of biotic and abiotic factors indicate morphological adaptations due to these factors. The comparison of morphological adaptations are examined through geological times and correlated to the appearence of selective agents such as predators, as well as major events in earth history.

Examination targetsHorizontal section of a high-resolution micro-computed tomography scan of an Echinocyamus pusillus test. Skeletal density is color coded, red = high density, green = low density. Structural important morphological features are indicated.

Computational simulations on structural mechanics are used obtaining a deep understanding of morphological structures and their implications for the stability of the echinoid's shell.

Examination targetsAnalytical pathway from a biological structure to its interpretation using finite-element analysis.

Structural analyses are based on large data sets which require advanced computational resources. Calculations and visualizations are part of computational analytics.



Predation is a major biotic interaction by which the predator can leave recognizable traces in the skeletal hard parts of the prey item. By tracking predatory patterns and behavior through time, shifts of these parameters are used to interpret evolutionary pathways.

Functional morphology

Functional morphology describes the adaptation of organisms to their environment. These adaptations are often the result of pressure such as biotic interactions and abiotic influences. Engineering techniques, such as structural mechanics are used to understand structural adaptations.


Taphonomy examines the alteration of organisms and their remains after the death of an individual, as well as alterations of biotic traces. Understanding taphonomic patterns, signals and filters are used to interpret ancient environments based on biotic remains and traces recovered from the fossil sedimentary record.

Computational analytics

Computational analytics promote calculations of large data sets and their visualization. Especiallt analyses and visualizations of 3d models are useful methods to understand the integration of structures.



Biomimetics is an integrative approach combining biology and engineering sciences. Evolved biological structures often provide solutions for today's technical challenges. Finding principles in organisms that improve or lead to the development of new technical systems is the aim of biomimetics.

Virtual reality

Virtual reality provides a platform that allows the analyses and presentation of 3d data in an 360° immersive environment.