WG Vertebrate Palaeontology

The working group Vertebrate Palaeontology in the Paläontologische Gesellschaft has now been in existence for almost 40 years. It unites the vertebrate palaeontologists in an informal group, which has neither permanent members nor a chairman! Thus, the working group may not exist in the legal sense and may not have a binding structure, which does not, however, affect the activities of the working group.

The working group is intended to strengthen the personal contact between active vertebrate palaeontologists in the German-speaking area and neighbouring regions. This is connected with the mutual information about own scientific work, excavations and joint projects. The exchange is concentrated on the annual meetings, each of which focuses on a topic from the common areas of interest. The topic will be determined at each conference for the following year. Mostly, however, a certain space for free themes remains beside the frame theme. In the course of time, these meetings have become the most important information exchange within the vertebrate palaeontology of Central Europe.

All colleagues from the German-speaking countries and neighbouring countries who are active in vertebrate palaeontology are welcome to the annual meetings in spring. The working group was founded in 1974 and was supervised by Prof. Dr. Volker Fahlbusch, Munich, until 1994, and then by Prof. Dr. Wighart v. Koenigswald, Bonn. - The meetings are organised on a voluntary basis by those colleagues who are closest to the planned meeting place.


Next year, the working group on vertebrate palaeontology will meet in Laimering near Augsburg, the main topic will be "aquatic vertebrates". Expected date of the 47th meeting organised by the Munich colleagues: 13-15 March 2020.

Speaker of the working group

Steinmann-Institut für Geologie, Mineralogie und Paläontologie
Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universtität Bonn
Nußallee 8
D-53115 Bonn
Tel. + 49 (0) 228 73 3104


First the working group met during the annual meetings of the Paläontologische Gesellschaft. Since 1976, independent meetings have been held every spring, usually on a weekend in March from Friday noon to Sunday noon. The meeting place changed in order to distribute the efforts of a long journey evenly. In earlier years every second symposium could take place at the Reisensburg near Günzburg. When the number of participants exceeded 100, this very nice tradition had to be abandoned. In order to offer a lot of time for discussions and personal conversations besides the conference program, conference venues are selected as far away from large cities as possible.

Initially, the working group was strongly focused on mammals and especially on their dentition, as this was the main field of employment. The application in biostratography played a major role in this. The clarification of the terrestrial biostratigraphy of the Southern German Tertiary would certainly not have been so successful without the contacts in the working group - intensive, often heated discussions regularly took place on questions of evolution as well as functional reconstruction. Prof. Gutmann from Frankfurt played an important role in this. - Zoologist Prof. J. Niethammer from Bonn, Germany, regularly attended the meetings and opened the view to the zoological aspects of vertebrate palaeontology. In the first years, access to meetings was kept somewhat restrictive. Participants should have a doctorate in order to keep the meetings small. But the meetings proved to be the ideal opportunity to broaden one's own horizon. We've all learned from each other. Therefore, soon PhD and diploma students, and finally all those interested, could participate. However, this went beyond the scope of the Reisensburg and the meetings increasingly took on the style of conferences.

In the 80s a great interest in dinosaurs arose worldwide. Because the working group focused on mammalian topics, a second interest group was formed which dealt specifically with reptiles and met - even less formally - separately as "Palherp" since about the beginning of the 1990s. Some personal reasons may also have played a role in this separation. - At the annual meeting 2011 both groups will meet again together in Eichstätt.

Previous meetings

(chronologisch geordnet)

After a first DFG-funded preliminary meeting in Mainz, the working group established itself and has met regularly since 1974. In the first two years (1974, 1975) the meetings took place within the annual meeting of the Paläontologische Gesellschaft, afterwards there were independent meetings in spring (usually in March) and many more interesting meetings will follow!

2017 Münster/Westphalia (Topic: Sensory organs)
2016 Thallichtenberg (Topic: soft tissue preservation)
2015 Ahrensburg (near Hamburg) (Topic: Paleopathologies)
2014 Laimering (near Augsburg) (Topic: reproduction)
2013 Laimering (near Augsburg) (Topic: Vertebrate skull)
2012 Neustadt/Saxony (Topic: evolution on islands)
2011 Eichstätt (Topic: Taphonomy)
2010 Vienna (Topic: Ontogeny and Evolution)
2009 Bensberg (Topic: Functional morphology)
2008 Bad Kissingen (Topic: Intraspecific variation)
2007 Freyburg (Topic: Current methods of phylogenetic reconstruction)
2006 Greifswald (Topic: palaeoecology, palaeo habitats)
2005 Kleinbottwar near Stuttgart (Topic: fossil report - systematics)
2004 Berlin (Topic: Ontogeny and Phylogeny)
2003 Bensberg (Topic: Food adaptations)
2002 Laimering near Augsburg (Topic: DNA in vertebrate paleontology - systematics and phylogeny)
2001 Kusel/Pfalz (Topic: Research perspectives: programs, concepts, methods)
2000 Bensberg (Topic: Palaeobiogeography)
1999 Laimering near Augsburg (Topic: large group systematics)
1998 Salzburg (Topic: Ontogeny)
1997 Kerkrade/Netherlands (Topic: Experience with cladistics)
1996 Bad Marienburg (Topic: Taphonomy)
1995 Bukow near Berlin (Topic: postcranial skeletons)
1994 Königswinter (Topic: Hard tissue in vertebrates)
1993 Reisensburg (Topic: The vertebrate skull)
1992 Hummersen/Wesergebirge (Topic: migration)
1991 Reisensburg (Free topics)
1990 Blaubeuren (Topic: reconstruction of fossil vertebrates)
1989 Reisensburg (Free topics)
1988 Michaelbeuern/Austria (Topic: reconstruction of habitats)
1987 Reisensburg (Topic: actualism)
1986 Donaueschingen: (Topic: Vertebrate deposits)
1985 Meadows/Spessart (free topics)
1984 Reisensburg (Topic: Ontogeny)
1983 Gwatt/Switzerland (Topic: microevolution)
1982 Reisensburg (Topic: movement mechanisms)
1981 German-Altenburg/Austria (Topic: Pre-adaptation)
1980 Reisensburg (Topic: radiation)
1979 Bad Honnef (Topic: Phylogenetic systematics, cladistics)
1978 Hole mill in Spessart (Topic: parallel and convergent development)
1977 Göttingen (Topic: Palaeobiogeography)
1976 Mainz (Topic: Palaeoecology)
1975 Hannover: in the context of the annual conference of the Palaeontological Society
1974 Aalen: in the context of the annual meeting of the Palaeontological Society


Paläontologische Gesellschaft
Weismüllerstr. 45
60314 Frankfurt am Main
Tel.: 069 / 400 3019 71
Fax: 069 / 400 3019 74
Email: geschaeftsstelle(at)palges.de
Internet: www.palges.de

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