Evolutionary responses to new palaeoenvironmental conditions

Through the holistic study of major fossil localities, this axis will investigate key events in the evolution of organisms, linked to the conquest of completely new ecological niches, including  the environmental causes, evolutionary processes, and morphological consequences.

Main research topics are:

  • the terrestrialization processes in vertebrates and plants in Europe and Gondwana during the Devonian;
  • the evolution of feathers and flight in dinosaurs and the origin of birds during the Jurassic;
  • the secondary adaptations of tetrapods (reptiles and mammals) to aquatic life;
  • the origin and early diversification of cetaceans during the Eocene.

Research projects

01/11/2015 to 31/10/2018

The oldest and the rarest - combining insight from both hemispheres to gain a global picture of baleen whale origins and macroevolution

Baleen whales (Mysticeti), the largest animals on earth, are a spectacular example of evolutionary adaptation and, as predators and nutrient distributors, a major component of the modern ocean ecosystem.

01/09/2014 to 01/09/2018

Neogene seals from the northern hemisphere: a multi-parameter paleontological study of the early evolution of Phocidae (Pinnipedia)

The return of tetrapods to a marine habitat constitutes one of the most significant ecological shifts, occurring multiple times during the last 250 million years. In the course of the evolution of marine tetrapod lineages, numerous behavioral and physiological changes are observed, accompanied by drastic morphological transformations.

01/01/2012 to 31/12/2013

Fossil sperm whales and their prey: evolution of Physeteroid feeding strategies

The objective of this project is to investigate the high diversity of morphologies and sizes among fossil and modern sperm whale lineages in order to reconstruct the evolution of their predation modes, prey types and habitats - and to define the potential triggers of the main ecological shifts.
16/11/2010 to 15/11/2013

Project DIGIT05: catalogues and databases of scientific collections

Paleobotany Collections of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences are among the largest and richest in Europe. They are unique in the world for the Paleozoic (542-299 Ma) as they contain many type specimens from internationally defined historical and actual stratotypes from existing sites in Belgium
King's brain
01/10/2005 to 31/12/2016

General structure an evolution of the brain of ornithopod dinosaurs

The purpose of this project is to describe the endocranial casts (in silicone and virtual) of ornithopod dinosaurs from Europe and Asia, and establish comparisons with other archosaurs.

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