Museum für Naturkunde


Leibniz-Institut für Evolutions-
und Biodiversitätsforschung
an der Humboldt-Universität
zu Berlin
Invalidenstraße 43
10115 Berlin

Phone +49 30 2093 8941
Fax +49 30 2093 8565
joerg.froebisch(at)mfn-berlin.de
Jörg Fröbisch Lab - Home

Fieldwork

In the past years, I had the opportunity to gain extensive fieldwork experience, ranging from paleontological cave excavations in the Italian Alps to a marine diving excursion on Elba and including paleontological fieldwork under challenging conditions in remote regions of Canada (Alberta), USA (Nevada), Brazil (Parnaíba Basin) and Russia (Mezen, Arkhangelsk). Of particular interest to me are late Paleozoic and early Mesozoic ecosystems to investigate the early diversification of major tetrapod clades, such as synapsids (therapsids) and marine reptiles, specifically ichthyosaurs. Within the framework of the Sofja Kovalevskaja-Award 2010, I obtained extensive funding for fieldwork to explore new and promising areas, particularly in terrestrial ecosystems of the Permian and Triassic.



Mezen (Russia)


In July 2011, I co-organized with my Russian colleagues a field campaign to the Middle Permian terrestrial deposits in the Mezen (Arkhangelsk) region in northern European Russian. A number of basal but poorly known therapsids are known from the Mezen Faunal Complex in the Russian Fore-Ural region, including several enigmatic but phylogenetically very important taxa. In addition, this assemblage is of particular importance, because it represents one of only few transitional faunas between the "pelycosaur"-dominated assemblages of the Early Permian and the therapsid-dominated assemblages of the Middle and Late Permian in the terrestrial realm. Future fieldwork is planned to expand our investigations in northern Russia.



Parnaíba Basin (Brazil)


The Parnaíba Basin in northern Brazil is best known for plant fossils, including spectacular silicified tree trunks, but it has also produced Permian vertebrate fossils, including freshwater sharks and chimeras, bony fish, lungfish, and a temnospondyl amphibian. The exposed rocks have been interpreted as representing a mixture of restricted shallow marine, fluvial, and alluvial plain environments. In addition, the age of the deposits has been the source of continuing debate, with various authors suggesting ages ranging from the Early Permian to the Late Permian. The main goal of our fieldwork is to recover new fossils that will provide new insights into patterns of Permian biogeography and the transition between the "pelycosaur"-dominated and the therapsid-dominated faunas. Our international team conducted a first field campaign to the Parnaíba Basin in January/February 2011 and future fieldwork is planned for April 2012.



Nevada (USA)


I am an active co-applicant and participant in National Geographic Society-funded fieldwork in the marine Triassic deposits of central Nevada to investigate the early evolution and diversification of marine reptiles, specifically ichthyosaurs and their trophic adaptations. In 2008, a field campaign in the upper Fossil Hill Member of the Augusta Mountains featured the recovery of a large ichthyosaur skeleton, which represents the first top predator among secondarily aquatic tetrapods. In addition to its eventual publication in the peer-reviewed literature, this research was already featured in two scientific television series, National Geographic's Wild Chronicles and Naked Science - Ancient Sea Monsters, and was recently covered in National Geographic Magazine (May 2010, US edition). Our most recent field campaign in the marine Triassic of Nevada was conducted in September 2011 und produced several promising finds.