Senckenberg Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum Frankfurt/M.

Messelforschung & Mammalogie

Im Jahr 2017 wurde die Abteilung Messelforschung und Mammalogie gegründet. Durch den Zusammenschluss sollen gemeinsame Forschungsinhalte strukturell besser verknüpft und die vorhandenen Forschungsressourcen effizienter genutzt werden.

PD Dr. Krister T. Smith
Abteilungsleiter Messelforschung & Mammalogie & Sektionsleiter Paläoherpetologie

Weitere Informationen zur Person finden Sie unter Vita und Publikationen und unter

2016 – present, Deputy Head of Department, Messel Research and Mammalogy, Senckenberg Research Institute

2011 – present, Head of Section Paleoherpetology, Senckenberg Research Institute

2010 – present, Co-speaker for research area Evolution & Biogeography, Senckenberg Research Institute

2008 – 2011, Postdoctoral fellow, Senckenberg Research Institute

2006 – 2008, Postdoctoral fellow, Texas Memorial Museum, The University of Texas at Austin

2000 – 2006, Ph.D., Department of Geology & Geophysics, Yale University

1995 – 2000, B.A., Department of Geology & Geophysics, The University of California at Berkeley


Chuliver, M., Scanferla, A. & Smith, K. T. (2022). Live birth in a 47‑million‑year‑old snake. The Science of Nature 109(56) 1-5. doi:10.1007/s00114-022-01828-3

Smith, K. T. & Scanferla, A. (2022). More than one large constrictor snake lurked around paleolake Messel. Palaeontographica Abteilung A 323(1-3) 75-103. doi:10.1127/pala/2021/0119

Smith, K. T. & Georgalis, G. L. (2022). The diversity and distribution of Paleogene snakes – A review with Commons on Vertebral sufficiency. In GOWER, D. J. & ZAHER, H. (Eds.), The Origin and Early Evolutionary History of Snakes (pp. 55-84): Cambrige University Press.

Smith, K. T., Bhullar, B.-a. S. & Bloch, J. I. (2022). New diminutive Eocene lizard reveals high K-Pg survivorship and taxonomic diversity of stem xenosaurs in North America. American Museum Novitates 3986 1-36. Retrieved from


Georgalis, G. L., Rabi, M. & Smith, K. T. (2021). Taxonomic revision of the snakes of the genera Palaeopython and Paleryx (Serpentes, Constrictores) from the Paleogene of Europe. Swiss Journal of Palaeontology 140:(18) 1-140. doi:10.1186/s13358-021-00224-0

Smith, K. T. (2021). Paleontology: It´s a bird, it´s a plane, it´s Oculudentavis! Current Biology 31: R948-R971. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2021.06.017

Smith, K. T. & Habersetzer, J. (2021). The anatomy, phylogenetic relationships, and autecology of the carnivorous lizard “Saniwa” feisti Stritzke, 1983 from the Eocene of Messel, Germany. Comptes Rendus Palevol 20:(23) 441-506. doi:10.5852/cr-palevol2021v20a23

Smith, K. T. & Scanferla, A. (2021). A nearly complete skeleton of the oldest definitive erycine boid (Messel, Germany). Geodiversitas 43:(1). doi:10.5252/geodiversitas2021v43a1

Smith, K. T., Comay, O., Maul, L. C., Wegmüller, F., Le Tensorer, J.-M. et al. (2021). A model of digestive tooth corrosion in lizards: experimental tests and taphonomic implications. Nature 11:(12877). doi:10.1038/s41598-021-92326-5


Georgalis, G. L. & Smith, K. T. (2020). Constrictores Oppel, 1811 – the available name for the taxonomic group uniting boas and pythons. Vertebrate Zoology, 70(3), 291-304. doi: 10.26049/VZ70-3-2020-03

Scanferla, A. & Smith, K. T. (2020). Additional anatomical information on the Eocene minute boas Messelophis variatus and Rieppelophis ermannorum (Messel Formation, Germany). Vertebrate Zoology, 70(4), 615-620. doi: 10.26049/VZ70-4-2020-06

Scanferla, A. & Smith, K. T. (2020). Exquisitely preserved fossil snakes of Messel: Insight into the Evolution, Biogeography, Habitat preferences and Sensory ecology of early Boas. Diversity, 12(100). doi:10.3390/d12030100

Smith, K. T. (2020). Rageryx schmidi. Senckenberg – natur forschung museum, 150(10-12), 175-177.

Palci, A., Hutchinson, M. N., Caldwell, M. W., Smith, K. T. & Lee, M. S. Y. (2020). The homologies and evolutionary reduction of the pelvis and hind limbs in snakes, with the first report of ossified pelvic vestiges in an anomalepidid (Liotyphlops beui). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

Zaher, H. & Smith, K.T. (2020). Pythons in the Eocene of Europe reveal a much older divergence of the group in sympatry with boas. Biology Letters 16: 20200735.


Smith, K. T. (2019). Eidechse mit vier Augen. Senckenberg – natur forschung museum, 149(1-3), 12-15.

Smith, K. T. & Schwermann, A. (2019). Die ältesten artikulierten Mosasaurier-Überreste aus Deutschland. Archäologie in Westfalen-Lippe, 26-28.

Smith, K. T. Schwermann, A. & Wilmsen, M. (2019). The oldest articulated mosasaurian remains (earliest Turonian) from Germany. Geologie und Paläontologie in Westfalen, 91, 3-23.

Čerňanský, A. & Smith, K. T. (2019). The first juvenile specimen of Eolacerta (Squamata: Eolacertidae) from the early-middle Eocene of the Messel Pit (Germany). Comptes Rendus Palevol, 18, 735-745.


Wedmann, S., D. Uhl, T. Lehmann, R. Garrouste, A. Nel, B. Gomez, K.T. Smith & S.F.K. Schaal (2018) The Konservat-Lagerstätte Menat (Paleocene; France) – an overview and new insights. Acta Geologica 16(2): 189-213. Get PDF

Smith, K.T., B.-A.S. Bhullar, G. Köhler & J. Habersetzer (2018) The only known jawed vertebrate with four eyes and the Bauplan of the pineal complex. Current Biology 28(7): 1101-1107. Get PDF Commentary

Kunin, W., J. Harte, F. He, R.T. Jobe, A. Ostling, C. Polce, A. Šizling, A.B. Smith, K.T. Smith, S. Smart, D. Storch, E. Tjørve, K.-I. Ugland, W. Ulrich & V. Varma (2018) Upscaling biodiversity: estimating the Species-Area Relationship from small samples. Ecological Monographs 88: 170-187. Get PDF

Čerňanský, A. & K.T. Smith (2018) Eolacertidae: a new extinct clade of lizards from the Palaeogene; with comments on the origin of the dominant European reptile group – Lacertidae. Historical Biology 30: 994-1014. Get PDF

Jiménez-Hidalgo, E., R. Guerrero-Arenas & K.T. Smith (2018) Gregorymys veloxikua, the oldest pocket gopher (Rodentia: Geomyidae), and the early diversification of Geomyoidea. Journal of Mammalian Evolution 25: 427-439. Get PDF


Smith, K.T. (2017) The squamation of the Eocene stem-basilisk Geiseltaliellus maarius (Squamata: Iguanidae: Corytophaninae) from Messel, Germany. Salamandra 50: 519-530. Get PDF

Pokrant, F., C. Kindler, M. Vamberger, K.T. Smith & U. Fritz (2017) Grass snakes ( Natrix natrix, N. astreptophora) mimicking cobras display a ‘fossil behavior.’ Vertebrate Zoology 67(2): 261-269. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. (2017) First crocodile-tailed lizard (Squamata: Pan-Shinisaurus) from the Paleogene of Europe. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 37: e1313743. Get PDF


Smith, K.T. & A. Scanferla (2016) Fossil snake preserving three trophic levels and evidence for an ontogenetic dietary shift. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments 96: 589-599. Get PDF

Smith, K.T., L.C. Maul, F. Flemming, R. Barkai & A. Gopher (2016) The microvertebrates of Qesem Cave: A comparison of the two concentrations. Quaternary International 398: 233-245. Get PDF

Maul, L.C., A.A. Bruch, K.T. Smith, G. Shenbrot, R. Barkai & A. Gopher (2016) Palaeoecological and biostratigraphical implications of the microvertebrates of Qesem Cave. Quaternary International 398: 219-232. Get PDF

Ceríaco, L.M., E.E. Gutiérrez, A. Dubois et al. (2016) Photography-based taxonomy is inadequate, unnecessary, and potentially harmful for biological sciences. Zootaxa 4196: 435-445. Get PDF

Čerňanský, A.C., J. Klembara & K.T. Smith (2016) Fossil lizard from central Europe resolves the origin of large body size and herbivory in giant Canary Island lacertids. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 176: 861-877. Get PDF

Blasco, R., J. Rosell, K.T. Smith, L. Maul, P. Sañudo, R. Barkai & A. Gopher (2016) Tortoises as a dietary supplement for the Middle Pleistocene hominids of Qesem Cave, Israel. Quaternary Science Reviews 133: 165-182. Get PDF

Scanferla, C.A., K.T. Smith & S.F.K. Schaal (2016) Revision of the cranial anatomy and phylogenetic relationships of the Eocene minute boas Messelophis variatus and Messelophis ermannorum (Serpentes, Booidea). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 176: 182-206. Get PDF


Maul, L.C., K.T. Smith, G. Shenbrot, A. Bruch, F. Wegmüller & J.-M. le Tensorer (2015) Microvertebrates from unit G/layer 17 of the archaeological site of Hummal (El Kowm, Central Syria). Preliminary results. Le Anthropologie 119: 676-686. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. & M. Wuttke (2015) Avian pellets from the late Oligocene of Enspel, Germany – ecological interactions in deep time. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments 95: 103-113. Get PDF

Jiménez-Hidalgo, E., K.T. Smith, R. Guerrero-Arenas & J. Alvarado-Ortega (2015) The first late Eocene continental faunal assemblage from tropical North America. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 57: 39-48. Get PDF


Čerňanský, A.C., K.T. Smith & J. Klembara (2014) Variation in the position of the jugal medial ridge among lizards (Reptilia: Squamata): its functional and taxonomic significance. The Anatomical Record 297: 2262-2272. Get PDF


Horáček, I., L.C. Maul, K.T. Smith, R. Barkai & A. Gopher (2013) Bat remains (Mammalia, Chiroptera) from the Middle Pleistocene site of Qesem Cave, Israel: first evidence of a Pleistocene fruit bat in the Near East. Palaeontologia Electronica 16.3.23A. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. & J.A. Gauthier (2013) Early Eocene lizards of the Wasatch Formation near Bitter Creek, Wyoming: diversity and paleoenvironment during an interval of global warming. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 54(2): 135-230. Get PDF [corrigendum]

Smith, K.T., L.C. Maul, R. Barkai & A. Gopher (2013) To catch a chameleon, or actualism vs. natural history in the taphonomy of the microvertebrate fraction at Qesem Cave, Israel. Jounal of Archaeological Science 40(8): 3326-3339. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. (2013) New contraints on the evolution of the snake clades Ungaliophiinae, Loxocemidae and Colubridae (Serpentes), with comments on the fossil history of erycine boids in North America. Zoologischer Anzeiger 252: 157-182. Get PDF


Parham, J.F., P.C.J. Donoghue, C.J. Bell, T.D. Calway, J.J. Head, P.A. Holroyd, J.G. Inoue, R.B. Irmis, W.G. Joyce, D.T. Ksepka, J.S.L. Patane, N.D. Smith, J.E. Tarver, M. Van Tuinen, Z.H. Yang, K.D. Angielczyk, J. Greenwood, C.A. Hipsley, L. Jacobs, P.J. Mackovicky, J. Müller, K.T. Smith, J.M. Theodor, R.C.M. Warnock & M.J. Benton (2012) Best practices for applying paleontological data to molecular divergence dating analyses. Systematic Biology 61: 346-359. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. & M. Wuttke (2012) From tree to shining sea: Taphonomy of the arboreal lizard Geiseltaliellus maarius from Messel, Germany. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments 92(1): 45-65. Get PDF


Smith, K.T. (2011) The phylogenetic affinity of the fossil agamid lizard Tinosaurus. Bonner Zoologische Monographien 57: 9-28. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. (2011) The long-term history of dispersal among lizards in the early Eocene: New evidence from a microvertebrate assemblage in the Bighorn Basin of Wyoming, U.S.A. Palaeontology 54(6): 1243-1270. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. (2011) Oreithyia, a replacement name for Orithyia Smith, 2011, nec Orithyia Fabricius, 1798. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 52(2): 273. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. (2011) The evolution of mid-latitude faunas during the Eocene: Late Eocene lizards of the Medicine Pole Hills reconsidered. Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 52(1): 3-105. Get PDF

Maul, L., K.T. Smith, R. Barkai, A. Barash, P. Karkanas, R. Shahack-Gross & A. Gopher (2011) Microfaunal remains at Middle Pleistocene Qesem Cave, Israel: preliminary results on small vertebrates, environment and biostratigraphy. Journal of Human Evolution 60(4): 464-480. Get PDF

Smith, K.T., S. Schaal, W. Sun & C.T. Li (2011) Acrodont iguanians (Squamata) from the middle Eocene of the Huadian Basin of Jilin Province, China, with a critique of the taxon “ Tinosaurus”. Vertebrata PalAsiatica 49(1): 69-84. Get PDF


Smith, K.T. (2009) Eocene lizards of the clade Geiseltaliellus from Messel and Geiseltal, Germany, and the early radiation of Iguanidae (Reptilia: Squamata). Bulletin of the Peabody Museum of Natural History 50(2): 219-306. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. (2009) A new lizard assemblage from the earliest Eocene (zone Wa0) of the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, U.S.A.: Biogeography during the warmest interval of the Cenozoic. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 7(3): 299-358. Get PDF [corrigendum]


Smith, K.T. (2008) On the measurement of beta diversity: An analog of the species–area relation for point sources. Evolutionary Ecology Research 10(7): 987-1006. Get PDF

Ifrim, C., M.-C. Buchy, K.T. Smith & S. Giersch (2008) Paleoenvironment and preliminary description of early Turonian (Late Cretaceous) aquatic squamates from Vallecillo, north-eastern Mexico. Fort Hays Studies 3: 47-62. Get PDF

Smith, K.T., B.-A.S. Bhullar & P.A. Holroyd (2008) Earliest African record of the Varanus stem-clade (Squamata: Varanidae) from the early Oligocene of Egypt. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28(3): 909-913. Get PDF

Bhullar, B.-A.S. & K.T. Smith (2008) A helodermatid dentary from the Miocene of Florida, the evolution of the dentary in Helodermatidae, and comments on dentary morphology in Varanoidea. Journal of Herpetology 42(2): 286-302. Get PDF

Smith, K.T. & M.-C. Buchy (2008) A new aigialosaur (Squamata: Anguimorpha) with soft-tissue preservation from the Upper Cretaceous of Nuevo León, Mexico. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28(1): 85-94. Get PDF


Smith, K.T. (2006) A diverse new assemblage of late Eocene squamates (Reptilia) from the Chadron Formation, North Dakota, U.S.A. Palaeontologia Electronica 9.2.5A. Get PDF


Stinnesbeck, W., C. Ifrim, H. Schmidt, A. Rindfleisch, M.-C. Buchy, E. Frey, A. H. González González, H. Porras-Muzquiz, L. Cavin & K.T. Smith (2005) A new lithographic limestone deposit in the Upper Cretaceous Austin Group at El Rosario, county of Múzquiz, Coahuila, northeastern Mexico. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geológicas 22: 401-418. Get PDF

Buchy, M.-C., K.T. Smith, E. Frey, W. Stinnesbeck, A. H. González González, C. Ifrim, J. G. López-Oliva & H. Porras-Muzquiz (2005) Annotated catalogue of marine squamates (Reptilia) from the Upper Cretaceous of northeastern Mexico. Netherlands Journal of Geosciences 84: 195-206. Get PDF


Smith, K.T. & P.A. Holroyd (2003) Rare taxa, biostratigraphy, and the Wasatchian-Bridgerian boundary in North America. Geological Society of America Special Paper 369: 501-511. Get PDF


Smith, K.T. (2001) Reassessing the Lambdotherium first appearance datum (Wasatchian, early Eocene) in the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming. PaleoBios 21: 1-11. Get PDF


Guralnick, R. & K. Smith (1999) Historical and biomechanical analysis of integration and dissociation in molluscan feeding, with special emphasis on the true limpets (Patellogastropoda: Gastropoda). Journal of Morphology 241: 175-195. Get PDF


Smith, K.T., S.F.K. Schaal & J. Habersetzer, eds. (2018) Messel: An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart. Get book

Schaal, S.F.K., K.T. Smith & J. Habersetzer, eds. (2018) Messel: Ein fossiles Tropenökosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart. Get book

Book chapters

Smith, K.T. (In press) Pan-Iguania. In K. de Queiroz, P.D. Cantino & J.A. Gauthier (eds.), Phylonyms: A Companion to the PhyloCode. University of California Press, Los Angeles.

Wedmann, S., J. Habersetzer, T. Lehmann, I. Ruf, S.F.K. Schaal & K.T. Smith (2018) Messel research – methods und concepts; pp. 34-41 in K.T. Smith, S.F.K. Schaal & J. Habersetzer (eds.), Messel: An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

Smith, K.T., A. Čerňanský, A. Scanferla & S.F.K. Schaal (2018) Lizards and snakes – warmth-loving sunbathers; pp. 122-147 in K.T. Smith, S.F.K. Schaal & J. Habersetzer (eds.), Messel: An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

Cadena, E.A., W.G. Joyce & K.T. Smith (2018) Turtles – armored survivalists; pp. 148-157 in K.T. Smith, S.F.K. Schaal & J. Habersetzer (eds.), Messel: An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

Smith, K.T., T. Lehmann, G. Mayr, N. Micklich, R. Rabenstein & S. Wedmann (2018) The Messel ecosystem; pp. 302-313 in K.T. Smith, S.F.K. Schaal & J. Habersetzer (eds.), Messel: An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

Wedmann, S., J. Habersetzer, T. Lehmann, I. Ruf, S.F.K. Schaal & K.T. Smith (2018) Messelforschung – Methoden und Begriffe; pp. 34-41 in S.F.K. Schaal, K.T. Smith & J. Habersetzer (eds.), Messel: Ein fossiles Tropenökosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

Smith, K.T., A. Čerňanský, A. Scanferla & S.F.K. Schaal (2018) Echsen und Schlangen – wärmeliebene Sonnenanbeter; pp. 122-147 in S.F.K. Schaal, K.T. Smith & J. Habersetzer (eds.), Messel: Ein fossiles Tropenökosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

Cadena, E.A., W.G. Joyce & K.T. Smith (2018) Schildkröten – gepanzerte Überlebenskünstler; pp. 148-157 in S.F.K. Schaal, K.T. Smith & J. Habersetzer (eds.), Messel: Ein fossiles Tropenökosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

Smith, K.T., T. Lehmann, G. Mayr, N. Micklich, R. Rabenstein & S. Wedmann (2018) Das Messeler Ökosystem; pp. 302-313 in S.F.K. Schaal, K.T. Smith & J. Habersetzer (eds.), Messel: Ein fossiles Tropenökosystem. Schweizerbart, Stuttgart.

Buchy, M.-C. & K.T. Smith (2011) New portions of the holotype of Vallecillosaurus donrobertoi (Squamata, Mosasauroidea) from the early Turonian (Upper Cretaceous) of Mexico; pp. 47–55 in J. Calvo, J. Porfiri, B. Gonzalez Riga & D. Dos Santos (eds.), Paleontología y dinosaurios desde América Latina. Universidad Nacional de Cuyo, Mendoza, Argentina.

Popular science

Smith, K.T. (2018) Lizards and skeletons. Flicker Bulletin 36.

Franzen, J.L., K. Smith & J. Habersetzer (2017) Krokodil gegen Urpferd. Natur – Forschung – Museum 147(1/2): 34-43.

Smith, K.T. (2016) Eat [and] be eaten: the ancient ecosystem of Messel. pp. 102-105 in The Munich Show. Hidden Treasures of the Museums. Wachholtz, Kiel.

Cadena, E. & K.T. Smith (2016) Vorstoß ins Mark: REM-Technologie macht 48 Millionen Jahre alte Knochenzellen und Blutgefäße sichtbar. Natur – Forschung – Museum 146(3/4): 78-85.

Maul, L.C. & K.T. Smith (2014) Von Mäusen, Echsen und Menschen. Natur – Forschung – Museum 144(7/8): 284-285.

Smith, K.T. & S. Wedmann (2013) Unerforschte Vielfalt in der Grube Messel. Natur – Forschung – Museum 143(7/8): 230-235.

Smith, K.T. (2010) Ein außergewöhnlicher Fund aus der Grube Messel. Senckenberg Jahrbuch 2007-2008: 35.