Research in the Section of Mammalogy focuses on the phylogeny and systematics of extant and fossil mammals based on comparative anatomy and phylogenetic systematics.

The phylogenetic, palaeobiogeographical and paleoecological questions are studied with an interdisciplinary approach that unites neontological and palaeontological methodologies. Increasingly, molecular data and innovative investigation techniques such as micro-computertomography and 3-D reconstruction are used. 

 Focus of Research  

  • craniogenesis in mammals (particularly rodents)
  • evolution of cynodonts
  • comparative anatomy and morphofunction of the nasal and ear region in extant and fossil mammals (particularly rodents, carnivorans, and lagomorphs)
  • comparative anatomy and morphofunction of the axial skeleton in placental mammals

Selected Projects

  1. Pattern of element loss in the postcranial skeleton of extant and fossil mammals (project within the module „M1: Phenotyping“ of the interdisciplinary large-scale project „Forward Genomics“; funded by Leibniz-Gemeinschaft; PhD candidate: Rebecca Hofmann).
  2. Dr. Rachel Racicot is an Alexander von Humboldt Postdoctoral Research Fellow studying the evolution of hearing and biosonar/echolocation in dolphins and whales. Her project involves iodine staining and CT scanning developmental series of whales to complement her ongoing studies that use the fossil record and osteological specimens from modern groups to understand whale sensory system evolution.
  3. Along the lines of „Time for lions – research, understand, conserve”, Mathias Wirkner studies the ear region of lions and other big cats for intra- and interspecific variation. His research is part of the project „Morphofunctional, systematic and evolutionary implications of internal cranial structures in Panthera sp. (Felidae, Mammalia)”. The results of this study will be interpreted with regard to the ecology of big cats. Further, the applicability of the findings on fossil representatives in the evolutionary context will be tested. Important implications for the conservation of big cats are generated, because we can only protect, what we understand.
    This project is partly funded (in alphabetical order) by the Paul-Ungerer-Stiftung and SEIKO Germany, Branch of Seiko Watch Europe S.A.S.