Research, field work & people


General research interests

  • Evolutionary morphology and palaeobiology of vertebrates
  • Development of soft and hard tissues of vertebrates (focus "integument")
  • Microanatomy and microstructural analysis of bone
  • Interaction of functional, phylogenetic, and structural aspects in vertebrates
  • (Palaeo-)Ecology of fossil and extant vertebrates
  • Evolution and Development in armor-bearing vertebrate groups (e.g. thyreophoran dinosaurs, turtles, crocodiles, placodont reptiles)
  • Biomechanics of extinct and extant vertebrates

Scan data

Placodont Psephoderma alpinum skull in virtual cross-section

Turtle evolution

Giant tortoise at Zoo Zurich




Fieldwork in the badlands near Urumaco, Falcón State, Venezuela




Fieldwork and research visits

  • Beijing, China and provinces in southwestern China
  • Falcon state, Venezuela
  • Nevada, USA
  • Switzerland and southern Germany
  • South Africa
  • Seychelles / Aldabra Atoll



The exhibition 'Krokodil im Baum'/'Crocodile in a tree' was an outreach activity of our group aiming at transmitting the notion of evolutionary trees to understand biodiversity and its origin, using crocodylians as main subject. Prof. Marcelo Sánchez used crocodylians as previous research results published by Scheyer et al. (2013) as the scientific basis for an AGORA grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation. The realization of the exhibit was coordinated by Life Science Zurich.


Following the closure of the special exhibit in the Zoological Museum of the University of Zurich, a virtual tour though the exhibit was made to digitally preserve the exhibit as a source of information for scholars and the public. A German and an English version of the virtual tour are  available on the PIMUZ website. Image credits: Jorge Gonzalez

Marine vertebrate apex predators during the Griesbachian to Smithian interval (left) and the Spathian to Anisian interval (right). From Scheyer et al., 2014 (PloS ONE)

Image credits: Beat Scheffold

Life reconstruction of Palaeopython helveticus sp. nov. and other faunal elements of the Dielsdorf palaeoenvironment during the late middle–late Eocene. From Georgalis and Scheyer, 2019 (Swiss J Geosci). Image credits: Jaime Chirinos















Infographic to accompany the new study "Giant extinct caiman breaks constraint on the axial skeleton of extant crocodylians" just published in eLife (see Lab publications) for further information. Image credits: Jaime Chirinos

Life reconstruction of the giant freshwater turtle Stupenendemys geographicus from the Miocene of the northern Neotropics. From Cadena et al. 2020 (Sci Adv).

[Most popular media release from UZH in 2020]. Image credits: Jaime Chirinos











3D Reconstruction of Colobops noviportensis from the Triassic. In our study we re-interpreted the tiny skull as a rhynochcephalian (Lepidosauria), not a rhynchosaurian archosauromorph. From Scheyer et al. 2020 (R Soc Open Sci)











Graphical Abstract of Spiekman et al., 2020 (Current Biology)

Life reconstruction of the Pebas Formation faunal assemblage during the middle Miocene. From Carrillo-Briceño et al., 2021 (Swiss J Palaeontol). Image credits: Jaime Chirinos












Graphical Abstract of Herbst et al., 2021 (iScience)

Dr. Henning Richter and the team at DIRU, UZH, enabled X-raying the holotype of Prosantosaurus scheffoldi (photo: Vetsuisse-Fakultät, UZH / Michelle Aimée Oesch). The scanning of the fossil revealed that it held its lower arms crossed underneath the body, similar to the crossed arms on the famous sarcophagus of Pharao Tutanchamun; quite an unusual posture for pachypleurosaurs. The description of the new species was published in Klein et al., 2022 (Swiss J Palaeontol)


Lab Leader, lecturer




Visiting scientists


Technical staff





Doctoral students


Masters students




Volunteers/Research interns

  • Leon Nobs, BSc


Lab alumni


PhD-committees of the PI

  • Romain Cottereau, MSc (main supervisor Dr. Valentin Fischer, Univ. Liège, Belgium)
  • Kinga Gere, MSc (main supervisor Dr. Attila Ösi, Eötvös Univ., Budapest, Hungary)
  • Antoine Laboury, MSc (main supervisor Dr. Valentin Fischer, Univ. Liège, Belgium)
  • Gabriel Cohen, MSc (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • Dr. Evelyn Hüppi (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ) 
  • Dr. Daniel Nuñez (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ) 
  • Dr. Thodoris Argyriou (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • Dr. Jorge Carrillo (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • Dr. Juan Carrillo (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • Dr. Laura Heck (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • Dr. Jasmina Hugi, PH Schaffhausen, Switzerland (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • Dr. Christian Kolb, PIMUZ (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • Dr. Kristof Veitschegger (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • Dr. Ingmar Werneburg, University of Tübingen, Germany (main supervisor Prof. Marcelo Sánchez, PIMUZ)
  • External Reviewer of 10 PhD theses outside UZH


Co-supervision of former MSc theses

  • Iris Ehrbar (UZH), Madeleine Geiger (UZH), Vivien Jaquier (UZH), Patricia Meier (ETHZ), Fiona Straehl (UZH), Olivier Strauss (UZH),


Co-supervision of former BSc theses

  • Moritz Reisser (ETHZ)
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