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Taphonomy of marine organisms is explored with a particular focus on echinoids and cephalopods. Exploration of temporal and spatial distribution of taphonomic patterns, signals and filters. Taphonomy is examined with respect to the alteration and preservation potential of shelled marine invertebrates and depositional patterns. Especially the preservation potential of predatory traces and their paleontologial interpretation is in the research focus. Effects of abrasion, bioerosion and encrustation are investigated with regard to the environment in which an organism or its remnants occurs and the potential being transferred into the fossil sedimentary record. The understanding of taphonomic signals and filters are used for a more accurate interpretation of fossil remains and traces recorded therein.

Analytical methods include, but are not restricted to, quantitative and qualitative statistical comparisons of shells recovered from various environments and periods, computational modeling, and actualistic explorations. The actualistic approach is particularly useful for obtaining a baseline of pristine structures and their pathway of degradation.

Taphonomy of echinoids and predatory traces in echinoids

The preservation potential of echinoid shells is investigated from various environments. Abrasion, bioerosion and encrustation patterns are matrix-coded for computational comparisons along environments and geological times.

Taphonomy of EchinocyamusComparison of Echinocyamus tests from Recent environments (left) and the Miocene (right). Even though the fossil test is taphonomically altered, surface characteristics are still preserved.

The preservation potential of drill holes in echinoid skeletons is examined. Taphonomic pathways of drill hole alterations due to abrasion, bioerosion and encrustation is used to identify the recognition potential of these predatory traces in the fossil record.

Drll hole taphonomyTaphonomic degradation of drill holes (all recent) in Clypeaster rosaceus. Epibionts encrust the test surface and can alter drill hole details. Drill holes can very often still be identified as such.

Taphonomy of cephalopods

Spirula shells are investigated for their quality as floating island habitats, encrustation patterns and accumulation behavior. Comparative analyses are conducted along geological times and spatial distribution.

Taphonomy of SpirulaSpirula shell found in-situ (left) on the beach. These shells can function as mobile floating islands for epibionts such as the barnacle Lepas (right).



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.