Leaf assemblage of a fossil riparian forest (central Germany; early Oligocene)


The Section of Palaeobotany sees itself as a center for Cenozoic macro-palaeobotany, in particular for the investigation of leaf floras using cuticle analysis. Not only has this been the focus of scientific work for more than 5 decades now, we have also developed the necessary preparation and collection management skills. On the basis of our taxonomic/systematic core competencies the focus is on applied issues such as the reconstruction of palaeovegetation, palaeoenvironmental research, and palaeoclimate estimation.

Most of the research topics are part of the research activity „ Evolving Earth and Environments“ within the research field “Biodiversity and Earth System Dynamics”. Besides, our research projects contribute to the research activity “Taxonomy and Systematics” of the research field “Biodiversity. Systematics and Evolution”.

Current research topics:

  • Reconstruction of the vegetation and climate in the Palaeogene and Neogene of Central Europe
  • Analyses of the Early Cretaceous Crato Fossil Lagerstätte in Brazil
  • Taxonomy and systematics (especially gymnosperms)
  • Taphonomy of fossil leaf assemblages including herbivory

With over 100,000 catalogued items (plant fossils, specimen slides and stubs, and herbarium specimens), the research collection of the palaeobotanical section is amongst the largest and most significant of its kind in Germany and Europe.

The section is in close scientific collaboration with the other palaeobotanical and palynological sections within Senckenberg (Section of Palaeobotany ,and Section  of Palaeoclimate and Environmental research at the Frankfurt site, Sections of Quarternary Macrofloras and Quarternary Microfloras at the Weimar site).

Head of section Lutz Kunzmann is lecturer for palaeobotany at Technical University  Bergakademie Freiberg/Saxony; regularly he supervises theses PhD students as well as theses of undergraduated students. Our section qualifies scientific personnel for natural history museums within a 2-years cours (scientific trainee).

New publications

Aktuelle Publikationen


Akkemik Ü., Mantzouka D., Tunç U., Koçbulut F. 2020-in press. The first Palaeoxylotomical evidence from the Mid-Eocene Climate Optimum from Turkey. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 285: 104356. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2020.104356

Akkemik Ü., Mantzouka D., Yıldırım D. K. 2020. The first report of a new Lesbosoxylon species from the early –middle Miocene of eastern Anatolia – Geodiversitas, 42 (23): 427-441. http://sciencepress.mnhn.fr/sites/default/files/articles/pdf/g2020v42a23.pdf

Batista. M. E. P., Kunzmann, L., Sa, A. A., Saraiva, A. A. F., Loiola, M. I. B. 2020. A new species of Brachyphyllum from the Crato Formation (Lower Cretaceous) Araripe Basin, Brazil. – Ameghiniana 57(6):  519–533. http://dx.doi.org/10.5710/AMGH.23.06.2020.3333

Dolezych, M., Reinhardt, L. 2020. First evidence for the conifer Pinus, as Pinuxylon selmeierianum sp. nov., during the Paleogene on Wootton Peninsula, northern Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Canada. – Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, 57: 25–39. https://doi.org/10.1139/cjes-2018-0163

Haug, C. et al. … Kunzmann, L. … 2020. Comment on the letter of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) dated April 21, 2020 regarding “Fossils from conflict zones and reproducibility of fossil‑based scientific data”: the importance of private collections. – PaLZ 94: 413–429. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12542-020-00522-x

Jochmann, M. M., Augland, L. E., Lenz, O., Bieg, G., Haugen, T., Grundvåg, S. A,  Jelby, M. E., Midtkandal, I., Dolezych, M., Hjálmarsdóttir, H. R. 2020. Sylfjellet: a new outcrop of the Paleogene Van Mijenfjorden Group in Svalbard. – Arktos 6: 17–38. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41063-019-00072-w

Kus, J., Dolezych, M., Schneider, W., Hofmann, T. & Rajczi, E. V. 2020. Coal petrological and xylotomical characterisation of Miocene lignites and in-situ fossil tree stumps and trunks from Lusatia region, Germany: Palaeoenvironment and taphonomy assessment. – International Journal of Coal Geology, 217. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.coal.2019.103283

Mantzouka D., Bozukov V., Ivanov M. 2020. The first report of an “Evergreen Castanopsis type” wood (Fagaceae) for the Late Miocene/Early Pliocene of Europe (Bulgaria, Blagoevgrad Graben). Geological Journal, 1-18. https://doi.org/10.1002/gj.3919

Martinetto E., Boonchai, N., Grímsson; F., Grote, P. J., Jordan, G., Kováčová, M., Kunzmann, L., Kvaček, Z., Liu, C. Y., Momohara, A., Huang, Y.-J., Palazzesi, L., Pole, M., Salzmann, U. 2020. Triumph and Fall of the Wet, Warm, and Never-More-Diverse Temperate Forests (Oligocene-Pliocene). In: Martinetto E., Tschopp E., Gastaldo R.A. (eds) Nature through Time. Springer Textbooks in Earth Sciences, Geography and Environment. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-35058-1_2

Noll, R., Kunzmann, L. (2020). Diversity in fossil Araucaria Juss.: new species from the Middle Jurassic Jaramillo Petrified Forests in Santa Cruz province, Argentina. – Palaeontographica B 301 (1–3): 3–75. http://doi.prg/10.1127/palb/2020/0070

Saarinen J., Mantzouka D., Sakala J. 2020. Aridity, Cooling, Open Vegetation, and the Evolution of Plants and Animals During the Cenozoic. In: Martinetto E., Tschopp E., Gastaldo R.A. (eds) Nature through Time. Springer Textbooks in Earth Sciences, Geography and Environment. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-35058-1_3

Seyfullah, L. J., Roberts, E. A., Schmidt, A. R., Ragazzi, E., Anderson, K. B., do Nascimento Jr., D. R., da Silva Filho, W. F., Kunzmann, L. (2020). Revealing the diversity of amber source plants from the Early Cretaceous Crato Formation, Brazil. M – BMC Evol. Biol. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-020-01651-2

Toumoulin, A., Kunzmann, L., Moraweck, K., Sack, L. (2020). Reconstructing leaf area from fragments: testing three methods using a fossil Paleogene species. American Journal of Botany, 107 (12): 1786–1797. http://doi:10.1111/AJB2.1574