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


Noll, R., Kunzmann, L. (in press). Diversity in fossil Araucaria Juss.: new species from the Middle Jurassic Jaramillo Petrified Forests in Santa Cruz province, Argentina Palaeontographica B.

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

Batista, M. E. P., Kunzmann, L., Sá, A. A. A., Saraiva, A. A. F., Loiola, M. I. B. (in press): A new species of Brachyphyllum from the Crato Formation (Lower Cretaceous), Araripe Basin, Brazil. – Ameghiniana.


Kunzmann, L., Moraweck, K., Müller, C., Schröder, I., Wappler, T., Grein, M., Roth-Nebelsick, A. (in press): A Paleogene leaf flora (Profen, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany) and its potentials for palaeoecological and palaeoclimate reconstructions. –FLORA doi.org/10.1016/j.flora.2018.11.005

Moraweck, K., Grein, M., Konrad, W., Kovar-Eder, J., Kvaček, J., Neinhuis, C., Roth-Nebelsick, A., Traiser, C.,  Kunzmann, L. (in press): Leaf traits of long-ranging Paleogene species and their relationship with depositional facies, climate and atmospheric CO2 level. Palaeontographica B.

Wang, L., Kunzmann, L., Su, T., Xing, Y.-W., Zhang, S.-T., Wang, Y.-Q., Zhou, Z.-K. (2019). Evolutionary stasis and the intensification of Asian monsoon caused the disappearance of Metasequoia (Cupressaceae) in SW China. – Rev. Palaeobot. Palynol. 264: 64–74. (doi.org/10.1016/j.revpalbo.2018.12.007)

Dolezych, M., Reinhardt, L., Kus, J., Annacker, V. (2018): Taxonomy of Cretaceous-Paleogene coniferous woods and their distribution in fossil Lagerstätten of the high latitudes. – Geol. Soc. Spec. Pap. 541: 36 pp.

(PDFs on request via E-Mail to: Lutz.Kunzmann@senckenberg.de)