Messel Research



Scientific papers

Cracknell, K., García-Bellido, D. C., Gehling, J. G., M.J., A., Darroch, S. et al. (2021). Pentaradial eukaryote suggests expansion of suspension feeding in White Sea-aged Ediacaran communities Scientific reports 11. doi:10.1038/s41598-021-83452-1

Darroch, S., Fraser, D. & Casey, M. (2021). The preservation potential of terrestrial biogeographic patterns. Proceedings B 288. doi:10.1098/rspb.2020.2927

Skartveit, J. & Wedmann, S. (2021). A revision of fossil Bibionidae (Insecta: Diptera) from the Oligocene of Germany. Zootaxa 4909(1), 1-77. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4909.1.1

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

Wedmann, S., Hörnschemeyer, T., Engel, M. S., Zetter, R. & Grímsson, F. (2021). The last meal of an Eocene pollen-feeding fly. Current Biology 31. doi:10.1016/j.cub.2021.02.025, free access until April 29, 2021 via this link:


Scientific papers

Baranov, V.A., Wang, Y., Gašparič, R., Wedmann, S. & Haug, J.T. (2020). Eco-morphological diversity of larvae of soldier flies and their closest relatives in deep time. PeerJ 8:e10356. doi:10.7717/peerj.10356

Čerňanský, A., Herrel, A., Kibii, J. M., Anderson, C. V., Boistel, R. & Lehmann, T. (2020). The only complete articulated early Miocene chameleon skull (Rusinga Island, Kenya) suggests an African origin for Madagascar’s endemic chameleons. Scientific reports, 10(109). doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-57014-5

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

Michel, L. A., Lehmann, T., McNulty, K. P., Driese, S. G., Dunsworth, H. M., Fox, D. L., Harcourt-Smith, W. E. H., Jenkins, K., Peppe, D. J. (2020). Sedimentological and paleoenvironmental study from Waregi Hill in the Hiwegi Formation (early Miocene) on Rusinga Island, Lake Victoria, Kenya. Sedimentology

Morlo, M., Bastl, K., Habersetzer, J., Engel, T., Lischewsky, B., Lutz, H., . . . Nagel, D. (2020). The apex of amphicyonid hypercarnivory: solving the riddle of Agnotherium antiquum Kaup, 1833 (Mammalia, Carnivora). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 39(5). doi: 10.1080/02724634.2019.1705848

Morlo, M., Nagel, D. & Bastl, K. (2020). Evolution of the carnivoran (Carnivora, Mammalia) guild structure across the Middle/Upper Miocene boundary in Germany. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, 553. doi: 10.1016/j.palaeo.2020.109801

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, 188(2), 630-652. doi: 10.1093/zoolinnean/zlz098

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

Weyer, N., Taylor, A. & Lehmann, T. (2020). Demystifying aardvark tracks, how (not) to determine aardvark sex. Afrotherian Conservation, 16.

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.


Popular scientific articles

Lehmann, T., Storch, A., Helfricht, A., Krohmann, K., Horáček, I., Ruf, I. & Maul, L. C. (2020). Gerhard Storch – a legend in mammal research (II). Fossil Imprint, 76(1), iii-v. doi: 10.37520/fi.2020.001

Schaal, S. F. K. (2020). 25 Jahre UNESCO-Welterbe Messel Pit Fossil Site. Senckenberg – natur forschung museum, 150(10-12), 168-174.

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



Scientific papers

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(7), 735-745. doi: 10.1016/j.crpv.2019.04.004

Engels, S. & Schultz, J. A. (2019). Evolution of the power stroke in early Equoidea (Perissodactyla, Mammalia). Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 99, 271-291. doi: 10.1007/s12549-018-0341-4

Garrett, N., Fox, D. L., Peppe, D. J., Michel, L. A., Lehmann, T. & McNulty, K. P. (2019 (submitted)). Stable Isotope Ecology of the Early Miocene Rusinga Island Mammalian Communities from the Kulu and Hiwegi Formations. Journal of Human Evolution.

Krzemiński, W., Blagoderov, V., Azar, D., Lukashevich, E., Szadziewski, R., Wedmann, S., . . . Nicholson, D. B. (2019). True flies (Insecta: Diptera) from the late Eocene insect limestone (Bembridge Marls) of the Isle of Wight, England, UK. Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 110(3-4), 495-554. doi: 10.1017/S1755691018000464

Michel, L. A., Lehmann, T., McNulty, K. P., Driese, S. G., Dunsworth, H. M., Fox, D. L., Harcourt-Smith, W. E. H., Jenkins, K., Peppe, D. J. (2020)


Morlo, M., Engel, T., Bastl, K., Lischewsky, B., Lutz, H., von Berg, A. & Nagel, D. (2019). Hyaenidae (Carnivora, Mammalia) from the Late Miocene (MN 9/10) Dinotheriensande. Mainzer Naturwissenschaftliches Archiv, 56, 113-126.

Morlo, M., Le Maitre, A., Bastl, K., Engel, T., Lutz, H., Lischewsky, B., . . . Nagel, D. (2019). First record of the mustelid Trochictis (Carnivora, Mammalia) from the early Late Miocene (MN 9/10) of Germany and a reappraisal of the genus Trochictis. Historical Biology. doi: 10.1080/08912963.2019.1683172

Morlo, M., Miller, E. R., Bastl, K., Abdel Gawad, M., Hamdan, M., El-Barkooky, A. N. & Nagel, D. (2019). New Amphicyonids (Mammalia, Carnivora) from Moghra, Early Miocene, Egypt. Geodiversitas, 41, 731-745.

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.

Taylor, A., Lehmann, T. & Weyer, N. (2019). A roadmap for future aardvark research. Afrotherian Conservation, 15, 25-10.

Vianey-Liaud, M., Marivaux, L. & Lehmann, T. (2019). A reevaluation of the taxonomic status of the rodent Masillamys Tobien, 1954 from Messel (Germany, late early to early middle Eocene, 48–47 m.y.). Fossil Imprint, 75(3-4), 454-483.

Wedmann, S. & Skartveit, J. (2019). First record of March flies (Insecta: Diptera: Bibionidae) from the Miocene Gračanica mine (Bugojno, Bosnia-Herzegovina). Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments. doi: 10.1007/s12549-018-00369-w

Wehner, R., Rabenstein, R. & Habersetzer, J. (2019). Long-leggedness in cataglyphoid Baltic amber ants. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, 100(1), 79-93. doi: 10.1007/s12549-019-00372-9


Popular scientific articles

Franzen, J. L. (2019). Die Evolution der Pferde – Wie kommen die Pferde dazu, auf nur einer Zehenspitze zu laufen. Senckenberg – natur forschung museum, 149(1-3), 26-29.

Horáček, I., Lehmann, T., Ruf, I. & Maul, L. C. (2019). Gerhard Storch – a legend in mammal research. Fossil Imprint, 75(3-4), v-xxi.

Kullmer, O. & Schaal, S. F. K. (2019). In Memoriam Jens Lorenz Franzen. Senckenberg – natur forschung museum, 149(01-03), 42.

Rabenstein, R. & Habersetzer, J. (2019). Fledermäuse, Ameisenbär und Urpferd – Mit Röntgenstrahlen in eine Lebenswelt vor 50 Millionen Jahren. In U. Busch & W. Rosendahl (Eds.), Die Welt im Durchblick – Wunder moderner Röntgentechnik (pp. 116-124): wbg Theiss.

Ruf, I., Colonius, T., Preussner, L. M., Prinzen, R. C., Schaal, T. N., Zoppe, S. F. & Schaal, S. F. K. (2019). Yixian Summer School. Senckenberg – natur forschung museum, 149(06-09), 82-85.

Schaal, S. F. K. (2019). Forschung und Denkmalschutz im Welterbe Grube Messel. Senckenberg – natur forschung museum, 149(1-3), 33-34.

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

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

Uhl, D. & Schaal, S. F. K. (2019). Umzug der geowissenschaftlichen Sammlungen des Senckenberg Forschungsinstituts und Naturmuseums Frankfurt abgeschlossen – Umzug der Messelsammlung steht an. GMIT – Geowissenschaftliche Mitteilungen, 79, 26-27.

Wedmann, S. & Schaal, S. F. K. (2019). Messel-Arbeitstreffen 2019. GMIT – Geowissenschaftliche Mitteilungen, 76, 101-102.

MESSEL – An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem

Messel – An Ancient Greenhouse Ecosystem is an exquisitely illustrated book by 28 internationally renowned specialists who present a synopsis of the current state of understanding of the climate and structure of the Eocene Messel ecosystem.

The information is derived from studying the rocks, animal and plant fossils of the Messel pit. The Messel Pit represents an ancient maar lake situated in the archipelago that Europe was in the Eocene, close to present-day Frankfurt, Germany.

The exceptional state of preservation of Messel fossils has enabled researchers, in many cases for the first time, to identify minute functional details of the plants and animals of the Messel ecosystem about 48 Million years ago: plants, insects, birds, mammals (horses!), reptiles, amphibians and fishes.

Introductory chapters treat Messel, its formation as a maar lake, the conditions of burial and preservation of the fossils, and history of work since discovery of the first fossil there in 1876.

The Messel flora and individual fossils groups are discussed in detail in seven following chapters, discussing both paleontological and evolutionary details obtained from the Messel fossils and by comparison with other fossil locations.

A final chapter summarizes all previous research and presents a synopsis of ecosystem conditions (climatic, environmental, biota, producers and consumers, occupation of ecospaces, niches) of the terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems at Messel, derived from studies of the Messel samples.

This hitherto most comprehensive treatment of the fossil Messel ecosystem will make this book the standard reference work on Messel to scientists, while the lush illustrations of flora and fauna will captivate everyone from fossil enthusiasts to interested laypersons.

This title is also available in a German language version.

Senckenberg Book 79

Stephan F. K. Schaal, Krister T. Smith, Jörg Habersetzer (Hrsg.)
Messel – Ein fossiles Tropenökosystem

2018, 355 pages, 21 x 27,2 cm, bound
ISBN 978-3-510-61410-3
44.90 Euro

Sample pages here.

List of publications on Messel of Forschungsinstituts Senckenberg scientists and honorary employees as well as students, doctoral candidates and postdocs

Senckenberg Messel-Publikationen (545 quotations) as PDF-file (99 KB)

Update: 1st May 2006

A complete list of publications on Messel Pit Fossil Site with 1,436 quotations is published on CD-ROM in  CFS 252, SCHAAL, S. et al. (2004): “Literaturübersicht und Schriftenverzeichnis zur wissenschaftlichen Erforschung der Fossilienfundstätte Messel”.  

Contact address for scientific journals: ;Search: “cfs 252”


Anika Vogel
Technische Assistentin