Scientific sessions/Symposia

Provisionally accepted:

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.

From platforms to reefs – faunas and floras from the Archean to the Recent

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 ichnotaxonmy, the ichnofacies paradigm to applications in paleoenvironmental reconstructions from marine to continental environments

By Pablo J. Pazos and Fransico Rodriguez Tovar

Description: The session moves from traditional ichnotaxonomy, applications of the ichnofacies concept, to the role of biogenic structures in paleoenvironmental reconstructions in outcrops and subsurface studies. It invites us to discuss new ichnological approaches for refining paleonvironmental interpretations in the framework of the ichnofacies paradigm. The applied ichnology is about the study of cores to paleonvironmental characterizations but also to analyse petrophysical and reservoir studies are included in this session. Contributions about neoichnology are welcome, like a window to improve the understanding of ancient ichnological records. The scope of the session involve marine marginal marine and continental studies using combined proxies to refine paleocological and paleonvironmental analysis and the ichnological variations in the geological record with an especial interest in comparisons between records in Gondwana and Laurassia.

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.

Understanding Asian Cenozoic landscape and climate evolution

By Su Tao, Gaurav Srivastava and Robert A Spicer

Asia hosts several of the world’s modern great biodiversity ‘hotspots’ where rapid economic development is threatening the ecosystem services upon which we all depend, but have taken millions of years to develop. It is vital that we understand why Asian biodiversity is so exceptional, how it has evolved, and how best to manage what remains under a rapidly changing climate. This symposium welcomes contributions mainly from palaeobotany and palaeontology (megafossils through to microfossils, as well as modelling and abiotic proxies) about the development of Asia’s highly biodiverse ecosystems with the background of landscape and climate evolution over the past 65 million years. Papers on the Cretaceous are also welcome in as much as they set the stage for the dramatic changes we see in the Cenozoic in relation to the development of the Tibetan Plateau and associated mountain systems, monsoons and biodiversity.

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.

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.

Biotic and environmental evolution over the Paleozoic-Mesozoic transition

By Jun Liu, Haijun Song, Dayong Jiang, Martin Sander, Mike Benton, Yuangeng Huang, Zhong-Qiang Chen, Peter Roopnarine and Laishi Zhao

Description: The Palaeozoic-Mesozoic transition was a critical time for the evolution of life on Earth. It witnessed four major biocrises: the first at the Guadalupian/Lopingian (G-L) boundary, the second and the most severe biocrisis of the Phanerozoic–at the Permian/Triassic (P-Tr) boundary, the third at the Smithian/Spathian (S-S) boundary, and the fourth in the mid-Carnian.

Both marine and terrestrial G-L extinctions have been recognized in South China, at high-latitude Spitsbergen (Norway), North China and the Karoo Basin (South Africa). However, a new high-resolution database of marine taxa indicates only a minor diversity decline happened near the G-L boundary. The P-Tr mass extinction was the most severe biotic crisis in Earth history. This event not only caused the mass extinction but also destroyed the 200 Myr-long Paleozoic ecosystems, prompting a transition to the Mesozoic ecosystem, with the origin of many new clades. The timing and pattern of this extinction, however, are still debated, with two-pulse and main-pulse views constantly debated. The protracted biotic recovery following the P-Tr extinction may have been caused, in part, by episodic environmental and climatic crises in the Early Triassic, among which the S-S crisis is conspicuous. Thereafter, stable, complex ecosystems were reestablished at the beginning of the Middle Triassic, until a temporal disruption during an extreme climatic event known as Carnian Pluvial Episode (CPE) during the mid-Carnian of the early Late Triassic. Even though the Carnian Age was a time of wide-ranging evolutionary innovation, a Tethys-wide “Carnian Crisis” and global CPE interval may have been one of the most severe biotic crises in the history of life on Earth.

This session welcomes any contributions related to the causes and consequences of these extinctions, the timing and patterns of the biotic recoveries, and the associated origin and early evolution of different clades during the recovery phase. We especially encourage a multidisciplinary discussion involving paleontology, paleoecology, geology, geochemistry, and modeling.

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.

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.

Fungi in the fossil record

By  Matthew Pound, Jennifer O’Keefe, Sophie Warny and Noelia Nuñez Otaño

Description: This session invites all workers on fossil fungi to share advances, discoveries and latest findings on this kingdom of life. Fungi have a long fossil record, but suffer from sporadic findings and a relatively small research community. However, with the profile of modern fungi being lifted, it is time for palaeomycology to gain the attention it deserves. From the origination, evolution and distribution of taxa to applications of fossil fungi, this session welcomes contributions from researchers from any point in geological time and on both macro and micro fossils. It is our hope that by bringing the fossil fungi community together at IPC6 that we can develop future collaborative work and advance the study of fossil fungi.

The origin and rise of a land flora: from Laurentia to Gondwana and back again

By Paul Strother and Clinton Foster

Description: Molecular time-trees that posit a Cambrian to Ordovician origin to crown group embryophytes (land plants) have opened up the likelihood that plant fossils might reveal a basal evolutionary radiation during the early Paleozoic. This radiation is first documented by the Cambrian cryptospore record in Laurentia, but, by the early Ordovician, that record shifts to Gondwana with the arrival of tetrahedral spore tetrads. Subsequently, Silurian spores are recorded in both Avalonia and Laurentia, as vascular plants expanded to achieve a global distribution that is documented in the Devonian floras. This symposium is intended to bring together all studies related to the origin and global expansion of plants during this terrestrialization, including the downstream impacts on the planetary ecosphere.

Recent advances on metazoan diversifications from Early Palaeozoic Lagerstätten

By Farid SALEH, Bertrand LEFEBVRE, Joseph. P. BOTTING, Allison C. DALEY, Xiaoya MA and Javier ORTEGA-HERNANDEZ.

Description: Konservat-Lagerstätten, or sites with soft-tissue preservation, provide a unique opportunity to understand the initial rise and major diversifications of metazoans during the Early Palaeozoic. This IGCP 735 session will explore the latest advances obtained on this critical time interval through the study of exceptionally preserved faunas. We encourage all contributions related to any aspect of Early Palaeozoic Lagerstätten including but not limited to systematic palaeontology, geochemistry, palaeoecology, palaeoichnology, and taphonomy

The 4th Asian Ostracod Meeting (AOM4)

By Sylvie Crasquin, Moriaki Yasuhara, Anisong Chitnarin, Sukonthip Savatenalinton

Description: The main goal of this session is to develop collaboration of ostracod researchers in Asia and beyond who working on either fossil or the Recent ostracods from freshwater and marine environments. The session involves a wide array of ostracod studies, including paleontology, ecology, and evolution, as well as environmental and geological applications in Asia in particular. All ostracodologists working in Asia and/or other area are welcome to participate this session. It is our hope that this session will lead to the knowledge enhancement, the integrative research, the advancement in the ostracod studies as well as the motivation to young scientists to carry on and achieve the ostracod research.

Palaeozoic fishes and the first tetrapods: evolution, biogeography and past environments

By John A. Long, Per E. Ahlberg, Richard Cloutier and Zhu Min

Description: Since the new millenium there have been incredible advances in our knowledge of early vertebrates from the Palaeozoic Era that have reshaped the way we think about how jaws evolved and how our modern fish and tetrapods faunas originated. Spectacular discoveries in China revealed complete jawed vertebrates from the late Silurian that shook up previous phylogenies and refined our knowledge of how jaws evolved. New knowledge of jawless fish with brain cavities well preserved filled in a gap about the origin of the gnathostomes. The oldest complete placoderms with well-preserved reproductive organs, and embryos inside them, some with soft tissue preserved showed is that placoderms were not as we first thought. Incredible synchrotron studies of Carboniferous sharks revealed complex suction feeding mechanisms and one holocephalan with an intact brain preserved. Many new osteichthyans have bene described, from new data on stem-osteichthyans, to a raft of new basal actinopterygians and sarcopterygians, to new data on Tiktaalik and Elpistostege, the latter revealing it had the first digits of any vertebrate. Finally the explosion of new Devonian tetrapod discoveries, represented by skeletal finds and new trackways from the Euramerican Province have reshaped our thinking about how the first four-footed beasts lived and evolved.
In this symposium we welcome papers that show new finds that advance our thinking about the relationships, biogeography and palaeoenvironment of early vertebrates, focussing on the fishes and the earliest tetrapods from the Ordovician to Carboniferous Periods.

Infaunal feedbacks during mass extinctions and their aftermaths

By Mao Luo, Lijun Zhang and Xueqian Feng

Description: Trace fossil evidence plays a crucial role in reconstructing ecosystem recovery processes following major mass extinctions because these fossils can provide paleoecologic information that would not be gleaned from the study of body fossils alone. Thus ichnologic information has a lot to offer to the reconstruction of the history of life, representing an independent line of evidence that yields valuable insights in evaluate paleobiologic megatrends. The symposium mainly focuses on infaunal response during mass extinctions or other kinds of extreme environments, emphasizing the biological behaviour and ecological dynamics of infaunal organisms in response to mass extinctions, and their reconstruction patterns during the biotic recovery periods. Such study would also give insights into the modern management of marine ecosystems that are under threat of global environmental change.

From Pangaea to the break-up of Gondwana-biogeography and vertebrate biodiversity
throughout the Mesozoic

By Diego Pol, Michael Pittman, Steven Poropat, Nour-Eddine Jalil and Bouziane Khalloufi

This symposium aims to offer a showcase and a space for discussion on the current paleontological studies on Gondwanan Mesozoic vertebrates, from their Pangaea records to the Maastrichtian. Besides an in-depth view of their biodiversity and the evolutionary impact of the long and remarkable geodynamic history of Gondwana, the symposium will also consider the biogeographic history of these faunae.

Preserving the world’s natural history: an ethical dilemma

By Nussaïbah B. Raja, Emma Dunne, Susan E. Evans, Nick Fraser and Juan D. Daza

Description: Palaeontology is unique among scientific disciplines in that it thrives on the exchange of information across diverse communities, both within and outside of academia. However, palaeontological research does not always best serve each of these communities. Recent scrutiny of our work has uncovered many tensions concerning “parachute science” whereby local expertise may be dismissed or excluded, which have been left unchecked for decades. The drive to discover new fossils in countries across the world has been linked to several ethical and legal issues, where fossils are excavated without record and smuggled across borders to finally end up in collections far from where they were uncovered. In the case of Myanmar amber, the gemstone in which fossils can be uniquely preserved, has been linked to human rights abuses and violations. The commercialisation of fossils has led to yet another issue where fossils are being sold to the highest bidder, ending up in private collections, inaccessible to researchers. Through this session, we aim to bring together diverse members of the global palaeontological community to discuss the current ethical issues in palaeontology and potential solutions to deal with them. We welcome case studies that address one or more of the issues addressed above as well as presentations focusing more broadly on how we can move forward as a discipline.

Hidden histories revealed in scientific revision of palaeontological collections

By Kathleen Histon, Susan Turner  and Toshihiro Yamada   

Description: Research in palaeontology in relation to scientific revision of palaeontological collections often leads us to work on historical documents and publications in order to reconstruct their stories. Many hours can be spent in museum collections, archives, libraries and online tracing original publications, the development of theories or techniques in palaeontology, disputes and discussion of taxonomic classification, biographies and correspondence between scientists, notes on specimens within collection boxes or museum records regarding their revision, transfer or loss. This documentation forms a fundamental part of a palaeontologist’s research and is often contained within a short paragraph on Previous Studies or under remarks on systematic descriptions within monographs and scientific papers as after all the main objective is to resolve the taxonomic issues and complete the systematic studies. In this IUGS International Commission on the History of Geological Sciences (INHIGEO) sponsored session we would like to provide a space for this research to be presented and highlight the interaction between history and palaeontology. Contributions on the aspects outlined above are welcomed.

Publication of papers from this INHIGEO session is planned as a Special Issue in the peer-reviewed journal Earth Science History.