Scientific sessions/Symposia

Provisional acceptance

Evolution and extinction of giants: the palaeobiology of very large organisms

By Julien Claude and Eric Buffetaut

Description: Size change and gigantism in particular are a recurrent pattern in evolution, and palaeontology has a central role in the study of this phenomenon. The evolution of large body size has long been the subject of discussions among palaeontologists, resulting in the so-called “Cope’s rule” and “Depéret’s rule”. The problem of the extinction of “giant” species, including that of the Pleistocene megafauna, has also caused much debate among the scientific community. More generally, evolutionary patterns related to the evolution of large size have been debated in the scientific literature for centuries. The study of gigantism as an evolutionary phenomenon covers a large spectrum of studies, including insular evolution, developmental constraints, functional anatomy of very large species, constraints due to resource intake affecting size increase, sensitivity of large animals to environmental change, etc. Estimates of largest sizes within various groups of organisms is also often a source of controversies and regular reappraisal in palaeontology and palaeoanthropology. We propose here to gather scientists who are wishing to share results and ideas about all topics related to gigantism (new discoveries, causes, consequences, methodological issues) in a symposium that should be an ideal venue for fruitful discussions. Contributions concerning all groups of organisms are welcome.

Insights into Ediacaran life

By Emily Mitchell, Frankie Dunn and Charlotte Kenchington

Description: This session invites researchers working on Ediacaran organisms to share insights of this pivotal period in Earth history and aims to integrate different geological, biological and ecological approaches. By combining myriad different approaches, from fieldwork and museum work, to laboratory and computational work, this session will highlight how new technology and interdisciplinary approaches have transformed our understanding of early animal evolution over the last five years. It is our hope that by gathering experts in these different techniques together at IPC6 in Thailand, we will facilitate future collaborative and multidisciplinary approaches that will greatly advance the science of our field.

Devonian palaeoenvironments and mass extinctions

By Peter Königshof, Ladislav Slavík, Ulrich Jansen, Jose Ignacio Valenzuela-Ríos and Mongkol Udchachon

Description: The mid-Palaeozoic was a time of significant plate tectonic activity that caused major palaeogeographic and palaeoenvironmental changes. During the Devonian two supercontinents, Euramerica and Gondwana, together with Siberia formed the biggest landmasses of our planet. They successively amalgamated into the supercontinent Pangaea during the Late Carboniferous. As the continental landmass grew, vascular plants, arthropods, hexapods and first tetrapods spread on land. Their radiation formed the base of new terrestrial ecosystems unknown before the Devonian Period. The success of terrestrial invaders, as documented by the fossil record, culminated with the development of vast forests consisting of tree-like forms like Calamites, lycophyte trees (e.g. Lepidodendron, Sigillaria) and other rooted plants that covered huge areas during the Carboniferous. That unique rise among land plants and the formation of top-soil led to distinctive changes in environmental conditions. Furthermore, the mid-Palaeozoic particularly the Devonian forms an acme in Phanerozic reef development, both in terms of areal coverage and geographic extent. The Devonian is also characterized by a large number of fundamental faunal changes (extinctions). These extinction events left not only biological modifications in the geologic record, but are closely associated with geochemical signals of ocean oxygen loss (anoxia), and are typically (but not always) preserved as black shales or bituminous limestones in Devonian marine sediments. While there are many anoxic intervals during the Early to Late Devonian, the most severe include the Kellwasser Events (associated with the F/F extinction event), and the Hangenberg Crisis (associated with the D/C extinction event). However, there is still debate about the cause/effect relationship between anoxia and extinction in the Devonian as the epeiric seas and tectonic basins of eastern North America and Europe generally show a close association between the two but sites elsewhere such as in Australia do not. Furthermore, there are some anoxia events in the Devonian that do not appear to be related to widespread extinction events at all. Thus, our current knowledge for instance of the F/F Event is limited by significant sampling bias, as most previous studies sampled epicontinental seaways or passive continental shelves. In this session we encourage colleagues to present studies on Devonian matters from field sites in different facies settings (e.g. terrestrial, shallow-water, open ocean) around the world. Event layers are of specific interest, particularly those who are not necessarily associated with black shales and/or bituminous dark limestone facies. The symposium would also incorporate an SDS (Subcommission on Devonian Stratigraphy) business meeting.

Carbonate build-ups in SE Asia

By Clive Burrett, Peter Königshof, Chen Jitao, Hathaithip Thassanapak, Halay Tsegab, Pradit Nulay and Mongkol Udchachon

Description: The role of evolving faunas and floras in the palaeoecology, development, and economic potential of carbonate platforms, small carbonate build-ups, and reefs from the Palaeozoic to the Cenozoic. This symposium is part of the IGCP 700. It aims to integrate and synthesise information on carbonate build-ups throughout South East Asia. Research focusing on the growth and demise of carbonate platforms, the distribution and geometry of build-ups, climate change vs. reef development, and framework-builders diversification are invited. This includes facies settings ranging from seamount carbonates to supratidal and shallow-subtidal environments which are crucial for palaeoenvironment reconstruction.

Bridging palaeontological and geological collections: the indissoluble complementarity

By Marie-Béatrice Forel, Pierre Sans-sofre and Sylvain Charbonnier

Description: Palaeontological collections house extremely diverse and abundant materials worldwide, from remains of microorganisms to plants through mammals or reptiles. Rocks, thin sections, sands or core samples from which these fossils were obtained have a knock-on impact on the significance of this palaeontological material and on its scientific messages, and vice versa. In this session, we propose to bring together the community around transversal examples and discussions illustrating the complementary of palaeontological and geological collections.

Ichnology: From the ichnotaxonomy to the ichnofacies during the Phanerozoic

By Pablo J. Pazos and Fransico Rodriguez Tovar

Description: The symposium moves from ichnotaxonomy to applied ichnology, emphasizing the role of biogenic structures in paleoenvironmental reconstructions. It invites us to discuss new ichnological approaches. Ichnological studies involving the convergence of paleobiology and geology are welcome. Analyses on physicochemical factors impacting trace maker communities in marine and terrestrial environments are of interest.

Palaeobiogeography of the Western and Eastern Tethys – migration routes and palaeoceanography

By Michał Krobicki, Hans-Jürgen Gawlick,  Špela Goričan, Katsumi Ueno, İsmail Ömer Yilmaz,

Justyna Kowal-Kasprzyk and Marianna Kati

Description: The geological history of Tethys Ocean is broadly established. Yet many details are still unknown and many major questions remain, related to geotectonics, palaeogeography, palaeoceanography and palaeobiogeography. Improved understanding of Mesozoic-Cenozoic ocean/climate history is based on accurate reconstruction of distribution of continents and ocean basins and on opening and closing of seaways along the Tethys. There is little or no agreement about the number or size of separate basins neither on their space-time relationships. Moreover, there is no consensus on the number and location of former micro-continents and on their incorporation into the present-day Eurasian-Mountain Belt. This Scientific Session will focus on the comparison between the Western and Eastern part of the Tethys during the latest Paleozoic–Mesozoic times and especially palaeobiogeographic patterns of distribution both macro- and micro-fossils and their migration routes, distribution of bioprovinces, palaeoenvironmental conditions, character of facies distribution and palaeoceanographic regimes.

Tropical paleobiology

By Moriaki Yasuhara, May Huang, Yuanyuan Hong, Aaron O’Dea, Erin Saupe and Seth Finnegan

Description: Tropical ecosystems are considered vulnerable to anthropogenic warming and environmental degradation, but predictions remain uncertain for how species and communities will respond to these perturbations. By reference to past biotic responses to episodes of warming, the low-latitude fossil record can provide baseline expectations for future changes. For example, coral reef diversity degradation is known in young fossil records, whereas latitudinal expansion and
constriction of coral reef distribution are known with warmer- and colder-than-present climates in deep-time fossils.  Until recently, however, this rich resource has remained understudied. In this session we showcase recent progress in understanding tropical and subtropical biotic dynamics in shallow and deep time. The topics covered include but not limited to biodiversity, macroevolution, paleoecology, conservation paleobiology in the past and present tropical/subtropical regions. We signpost the direction for research in tropical paleontology over the next 10 years, which is of particular relevance given that the United Nations has declared the next decade to be that of ‘Ocean Science for Sustainable Development’.

Workshop on the International Research Network Paleobiodiversity in South-east Asia

By Eric Buffetaut, Haiyan Tong and Valéry Zeitoun

Description: The International Research Network Paleobiodiversity in South-east Asia has been launched in January 2015 and renewed in 2019 for 5 years. This scientific consortium aims to set-up a collaborative research network on Paleobiodiversity in South-east Asia between French CNRS laboratories, accompanied by their supporting universities and museums, and twenty European, American and Asian Institutes including Thailand, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. The scientific topics of the network focus on 1) the paleobiogeographical history of South-east Asia, 2) the Asian Inter-basin correlations and 3) the origin and recent dynamics of modern biodiversity in South-east Asia. It targets reinforcement of our knowledge on the Evolution of biodiversity in South-east Asia at different scales.

The network activities include the organization of workshops, seminars and training schools within the network partners, but are also open to additional regional collaborators. Its goal is to promote the exchange of permanent researchers and professors as well as master, doctoral and post-doctoral students. In particular, the training of students in the field and in collections is pursued with the support from our different teams. We promote and showcase the co-participation to international congresses and conferences. One of our goals is to act as driver for attracting international attention to the erosion of biodiversity and to act for the enhancement and safeguard of the paleontological heritage. Finally, we encourage joint publications and implementation of joint projects within the IRN-PalBioDivASE research targets.

From the end of 2015 to 2020 the IRN-PalBioDivASE organized a total of 96 joint meetings mainly in the field. It allowed the organization of 15 conferences, 10 seminars, 7 workshops and 4 conferences. A total of 31 grant applications were submitted collectively on our 3 themes. 35 members from our ASEAN laboratories were hosted in Europe and 36 European researchers were hosted by the ASEAN partners on site. During that period 8 theses were carried out, 6 of which were in Thailand. Finally we were able to co-produce 91 articles and to present 60 communications and 4 posters within the framework of our joint actions.

Paleoenvironments in Paleontology: methods, tools and limits. A review to go further

By Valéry Zeitoun, Romain Amiot, Robert Spence

Description: From Paleozoic to Cenozoic (including Quaternary) paleontological data (vegetal as animal) are used as a basis or use different tools to reconstruct the evolution of environments over time. This symposium aims to bring together different actors of paleontology, ecology and isotopists to question the different tools used to reconstruct paleoenvironments with respect to their limits and relevance, from actualist models to isotopes and the methodological transfer of tools from ecology. The proposed symposium aims to take stock of the different advances obtained so far and the new avenues to explore in the future. The symposium will cover all the aspects considered by environments in the past times (paleontology, isotopic studies, ecological modelization) and will consist of keynote papers, scientific presentations and round-table discussions. We expect a relatively large number of participants (50 +) and the symposium may extend over a whole day.

Freedom to Breath: integrating the evolution of animals and their environments during the early Palaeozoic

By Nigel Hughes

Description: The evolution of life into and during the early Palaeozoic is increasingly being tied to global scale changes in environmental conditions, including fluctuating but overall rising levels of oxygen in the atmosphere and oceans. Our symposium, jointly sponsored by IGCP 668 and 735, will explore the linkages between organismal evolution and environments at this critical time, with a particular emphasis on the geological and paleoenvironmental context of evolutionary innovation. We encourage contributions that explore these linkages in innovative ways, ranging from anatomical evidence for respiratory evolution in fossil organisms through to geochemical evidence for secular and evolving environmental conditions in the Earth-Life system. 

Digitizing Paleontological Collections

By Paul Mayer

Description: Paleontological collections are an important and valuable resource that are often underutilized. Making these collections more accessible to researchers, educators and the general public is a growing concern for many universities and museums. This symposium will examine all aspects of how collections are digitized and how this data is used including: Collection software and data management,  best practices, workflows, standards, imaging techniques, crowdsourcing, examples and challenges in digitizing paleontological collections, digitized specimen research and educational projects. 

Paleontological heritage, geopark and geotourism

By Grégoire Egoroff, Isabelle Rouget, Surachai Siripongsatian and Apsorn Sardsud

Description: For several decades, a growing number of paleontological sites or objects have been protected, enhanced and disseminated. All of these actions aim at increasing knowledge about such a heritage, protecting or promoting earth sciences referred as to « geological heritage ». Within this broad domain, paleontological heritage is particularly attractive to the public and can easily be promoted. In this sense, the role of paleontologists in the expertise and supporting actions on geological heritage is very important.

A session on paleontological heritage invites you to present projects relating to paleontological heritage, whether through its study (inventory of sites, preservation of collections), its protection (legislation, development of territorial structure), territorial enhancement (geopark, geotourism) or its dissemination through book, video or educational projects.

Fish evolution through the Mesozoic and Cenozoic: anatomy, phylogeny, ecology, biogeography

By Bouziane Khalloufi, Uthumporn Deesri, Lionel Cavin and Gilles Cuny

Description: This symposium is dedicated to the evolutionary history of the main Mesozoic and Cenozoic fish clades. It aims to bring the community together to discuss the latest scientific outcomes on chondrichthyans, actinopterygians, lungfishes and coelacanths from continental and marine deposits around the world. Topics related to fossil fishes can include among others anatomy, taxonomy, phylogeny, paleoenvironmental reconstructions, biogeography and form-function relations as well as the effect of global events, such as biological crises, palaeoclimatic (PETM) and paleogeographic (break-up of Pangaea, opening of the South Atlantic, etc.) changes on the evolution of fishes. Methodological aspects, including new techniques and models, are also welcome.

The appearance and loss of flight in paravians

By Jingmai O’Connor and Alexander Dececchi

Description: The secondary loss of flight has evolved repeatedly in both stem and crown birds. Recently it has been hypothesized that birds are not the only flying dinosaurs and that in fact volant behaviour has evolved at least four times in Maniraptora, the clade of theropod dinosaurs that includes birds. In order to better understand the evolutionary pressures that lead to both the evolution and loss of flight, this symposium session welcomes talks on the early evolution of flight in maniraptorans, the refinement of flight in Cretaceous birds, and the evolution of flightlessness in Aves.

Life on the shelf

By Danae Thivaiou, Konstantina Agiadi and Alexander Dunhill

Description: Continental shelves cover more than 32 million square kilometers worldwide today and are home to many marine organisms. At the interface between the deep oceans and the continents, shelves are characterised by high nutrient and energy exchange rates, and the direct impact of climate. They are the places where diversification and mass extinction events are more pronounced and best recorded in the fossil record. In this session, we aim to stimulate discussion on the particular characteristics and evolution of past shelf ecosystems and their biota. We invite presentations on the fields of palaeontology, palaeobiology, palaeoecology and palaeobiogeography, with focus on the interaction between the shelf environment and its organisms.

Dinosaur ichnology comes of age: the geo-heritage value of the tetrapod trace fossil record

By Lida Xing  and Martin Lockley

Description: The remarkable increase in global reports of dinosaur- and other tetrapod-dominated tracksites demonstrates that many formations reveal dozens of tracksites (ichnofaunas) some with 100s, even 1000s of tracks and few if any body fossils. As such sites attract the attention of local, regional and national geo-heritage interests, many are increasingly important as tourist, public education destinations. Most are preserved in situ, unlike most body fossil sites which are excavated and emptied.  Given that tetrapod tracks represent living faunas, not death assemblages, growing track databases are of considerable importance for a range of paleobiological analyses. Ichnotaxon diversity,  as high as 12-18 ichnogenera, in some well-known formations, including a few Lagerstätten,far exceeds body fossil diversity in many of the same deposits.  Many formations consistently reveal multiple assemblages with the same ichnofaunal composition. This predictability is often greater than that of the body fossil record, and indicates repeated facies-fauna relationships useful in paleoenvironmental analysis.   The Dinosaur Ichnology symposium invites ichnological contributions highlighting the importance of the tetrapod track fossil record in providing a previously-underused database for paleobiological analysis. Contributions comparing tetrapod body and trace fossil faunas in space and time, exceptional ichnofaunas (Lagerstätten), the significance, preservation and management of geo-heritage sites, ichnofacies patterns and related topics are particularly relevant to the symposium theme.

Late Neogene-Quaternary continental ecosystems, zoogeography, and biotic exchange across Asia-Pacific

By Kantapon Suraprasit, Marton Rabi, Laszlo Kocsis and Julien Louys

Description: The terrestrial zoogeographic realms of modern day Asia-Pacific region, including Palearctic, Sino-Japanese, Oriental, Australian, and Oceanian realms originated through significant changes in ecosystems and environments related to a complex geological history during the Late Neogene- Quaternary, especially the interaction of the Eurasian, Indian, Australian, Pacific, and Philippine tectonic plates. Fundamental biogeographic barriers and corridors for dispersal have been formed by mountain ranges, volcanic eruptions, bathymetric variation, and loss of savannahs. Palaeoenvironmental, palaeoclimatic, and geologic studies together with associated faunas and floras have played a pivotal role in understanding the physical and biological factors driving biotic exchange of hominins and vertebrate taxa across Asia and into the Pacific. These studies have been aided by the detailed description of palaeontological, palaeoanthropological, and archaeological sites in the region in the last few decades. This new information has widened our knowledge on the movement of vertebrate faunas and their evolution in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly since the Late Neogene. This symposium will focus on biogeographical aspects of palaeontology and zooarchaeology in the Asia-Pacific region, with a particular emphasis on how the evolution and palaeogeographical affinities of vertebrate assemblages and their ecological requirements have impacted biotic exchange between South and Southeast Asia, Indochina, Sundaland, Wallacea, Sahul, and the Pacific from the Late Neogene to the Quaternary. We believe that interdisciplinary approaches operating at a wide range of time scales are essential to address these questions, including insights from geochemistry, taphonomy, ecology, geology, systematics, and evolutionary biology. Our aim is to provide an international multidisciplinary platform for discussion and debate between palaeontologists and the archaeologists, ecologists, and biologists examining the factors that have driven or restricted the distribution of hominins and vertebrate faunas in the region.

The palaeontology and biogeography of Asian Terranes

By John Long

Description: Since the paper analysing the biogeography  of Early-Middle  Palaeoozic terranes in Asia by Burrett et al (1990)* there have been many major advances in underatnding the palaeontology of these regions, in clarifying the boundaries and extent of the ancient terranes that comprise Asia today, and their relationships with the other continental landmasses, such as Gondwana and Euramerica. It is time to reassess and present new data to determine the extent and timing of faunal interactions during the critical stages of the formation of Asia. What were the impacts of mass extinction events, the effects of  climate shifts and sea-level fluctuations in Asian terranes that impacted on the bulding of modern biotas? This symposium will welcome papers about the faunal and floral links between Asia and other terranes, the biogeographic relationships of these regions, and the impact of understanding global processes through the study of how and when these terranes first formed, drifted and ultimately became intregrated as parts of modern Asia. This symposium will look specifically at the Palaeozoic faunas and events impacting Asian terranes.

*Burrett, C.Long, J. Stait, B. 1990. Early-Middle Palaoezoic biogeography of Asian terranes derived from Gondwana. Geological Society Memoir 12: 163-174.

Digital paleontology: new insights into the evolution of the organisms through multidisciplinarity

By Thodoris Argyriou, Sifra Bilj, François Clarac, Donald Davense and Charalampos Kevrekidis

Description: During the past decades, the rapidly increasing availability of, and accessibility to infrastructure, algorithms and methodologies associated with the acquisition and analysis of 3D digital anatomical data from fossils -or associated structures – has transformed the fields of paleontology and paleobiology. Methodologies such as computed microtomography (X-ray, Synchrotron, Neutron scanning, etc.), surface scanning and photogrammetry are becoming standard for bridging direct observations on fossils with the non-destructive study of both external and internal structures. Analyses of digital anatomical data (e.g., bone microstructure, FEA, 3D geometric morphometrics) in turn facilitate evolutionary, phylogenetic and morphofunctional studies that combine anatomical data from fossil and extant organisms alike.

This session aims at bringing together scientists from various subfields of paleontology and evolutionary biology to present their research and discuss how the recent advances in the field of digital palaeontology enhance our understanding of the biology of extinct and extant organisms. Researchers with a methodological focus or working on non-vertebrate taxa are also encouraged to present, broadening the focus of discussions. We hope you find the idea interesting and we are looking forward to IPC6.

Permo-Triassic mass extinction and recovery

By Jun Liu, Haijun Song, Dayong Jiang, Martin Sander and Mike Benton

Description: The Permo-Triassic mass extinction (PTME), the largest biodiversity crash of Phanerozoic, witnessed the death of almost all species on earth. In the sea, 80-96% species were extinguished with the complete disappearance of tabulate and rugose corals, trilobites, eurypterids, blastoid echinoderms, and acanthodians. It is traditionally posited that the Mesozoic Marine Revolution started in the Jurassic. However, the appearance of sea-living predatory gastropods, crustaceans and especially marine reptiles in the Triassic indicates that this revolution actually started not very long after the PTME and was part of the recovery of life and origin of ‘modern’ ecosystems. On land, the PTME marked the extinction of formerly dominant groups, including herbivorous pareiasaurs as well as carnivorous gorgonopsians. The PTME also marks the origin of stem groups of modern clades like salamanders, frogs, mammals, turtles, lizards, crocodilians and dinosaurs.

In the last decades, a large number of studies have been conducted to understand the causes of this event. Various hypotheses, including sea-level regression, massive Siberian basalt eruption, widespread marine anoxia, CO2 poisoning, methane release, extraterrestrial impact, and burning of terrestrial carbon have been proposed to explain this mass extinction and the large and rapid carbon isotope excursion at the Permo-Triassic boundary. Although the extinction itself has received extensive attention, the biotic recovery from this mass extinction has only recently raised increased interest. The traditional view holds that the recovery was very slow, and adopted a step-wise pattern with low trophic-level groups recovering first. In contradiction to this, extensive compilation of predators across the Permo-Triassic boundary shows that recovery was fast. Most recently, a top-down recovery from the PTME with a reversed trophic pyramid in Early Triassic ecosystems was proposed, followed by a normal pattern after the Middle Triassic based on an updated database of global fossil occurrences.

This session welcomes any contributions related to the causes and consequences of this extinction, the timing and pattern of the biotic recovery, and the associated origin and early evolution of different clades during the recovery phase. We especially encourage a multidisciplinary discussion involving paleontology, geology and geochemistry.

Advances in vertebrate palaeohistology

By Anusuya Chinsamy-Turan and Carmen-Nacarino-Meneses

Description: This symposium will cover the histology of mineralised tissues (i.e. bones and teeth) of a wide range of vertebrates through geological time – from early tetrapods to dinosaurs (incl birds) and mammals.

The evolution of forest ecosystems: dead trees and the stories they tell

By Nareerat Boonchai, Yongdong Wang, Marc Philippe, Paul J. Grote

Description: This symposium will cover various aspects of plant fossils worldwide with the main emphasis on Mesozoic to Cenozoic fossil wood (both petrified and non-petrified fossil wood types). For example: wood anatomy and past climate, taphonomy, petrified forest management, and fossil wood artifacts – archaeological related topics. However, other plant fossil organs and saproxylic communities that help us better understand the forest evolution story are welcome. We also accept the topics related to techniques used in fossil plant studies, preparation, and conservation.

Fossil hunting in the Far East: the history of paleontological collecting in eastern Asia

By Eric Buffetaut and Varavudh Suteethorn

Description: This symposium will address all aspects of the history of fossil collecting in eastern Asia, including early records of fossils, large scale projects such as the great expeditions to the Gobi desert as well as individual researches, discoveries made by explorers and by geological surveys, field cooperation between palaeontologists from various countries, origin and growth of palaeontological collections and museums, biographies of individual palaeontologists active in eastern Asia. All groups of fossils and all geological periods will be considered.

It should be possible to publish papers issuing from the symposium in a special issue of Colligo, an online journal devoted to the history of natural history collections.

To be Update

Biogeography of terrestrial ecosystems during the Cretaceous of Gondwana

By Diego Pol and others

The 4th Asian Ostracod Meeting (AOM4)

By Sukonthip Savatenalinton and others


By Malcolm Hart