Terrestrische Paläoklimatologie

Davit Vasilyan, Dr.

Curriculum Vitae

08/2001 - 06/2006

06/2006 - 06/2009

10/2007 - 07/2008

since 11/2009


since 2015

Research interests

Herpetofauna and Palaeoclimate in the Neogene

Fossil amphibians and reptiles are the most suitable for the reconstruction of the palaeoenvironment and terrestrial ecosystems. Amphibians and reptiles, fishes as well, are ectothermic vertebrates, i.e. they take the necessary warm for metabolism by absorbing heat from their surroundings. So their body temperature fluctuates with changes in the surrounding temperature. The second important factor for their life is the water, on which depend their reproduction and physiology. Therefore amphibians and reptiles are the best „indicators “within vertebrates and can be used for the reconstruction of the palaeotemperature and palaeoprecipitation.

Currently in the framework of a DFG project I work on different morphologic and ecological questions of Herpetofauna from Eastern Paratethys and Western Siberia. In addition I study Eastern Europe and Central Asia palaeoclimate development during the Neogene.

The new research on the poorly known giant salamanders Cryptobanchidae broadens our knowledge on their biology, ecology, feeding and phylogenetic relationships. Studies on morphology, osteology and histology (bone cross-sections, CT-Scans) of both fossil and recent giant salamanders revealed the diversity on lifestyle and life history strategy within this group. Beside this climate space of recent and fossil cryptobranchids is best characterized by high humidity with mean annual precipitation values over 900 mm.

Neogene aquatic vertebrates

Fossil aquatic vertebrates, specially fishes, provide important data to the ecology, biogeography, hydrology and limnology of water bodies. The territory of Western Asia, due to its geographic position, is a hot-spot area of animals including aquatic vertebrates. However, the Neogene fossil aquatic vertebrates and the emergence of the diverse and rich on endemic forms fish fauna of the region is poorly unknown.

Through studies on fossil fresh- and brackish water fish faunas, amphibians etc. from Armenia, Turkey and Iran, their development in time and space can be studied, as well as the knowledge on diversity of Neogene vertebrate fauna can be essentially enlarged.

Gained results on fossil aquatic vertebrates, in the context of other aquatic organisms (diatoms, arthropods, molluscs etc.), allow to reconstruct patterns of palaeogeographic and palaeohydrologic developments of fresh water bodies (rivers, lakes), as well as marine and brackish water (Eastern Paratethys) reservoirs.

Lower vertebrates from the Late Paleogene and Neogene of Armenia

The palaeoichthyofauna of Armenia, as part of Eastern Paratethys, has been so far only sporadically examined. A substantial expansion of knowledge of Armenian Cenozoic fish diversity was achieved through new field work and study on already existing collection material.



Vasilyan D. 2018: Eocene Western European endemic genus Thaumastosaurus: new insights into the question ‘‘Are the Ranidae known prior to the Oligocene?’’ PeerJ 6:e5511; DOI 10.7717/peerj.5511

Ivanov M., Vasilyan D., Böhme M., Zazhigin V.S. 2018: Miocene snakes from northeastern Kazakhstan: new data on the evolution of snake assemblages in Siberia. Historical Biology doi: 10.1080/08912963.2018.1446086

Vasilyan D., Zazhigin V.S., Böhme M. 2017: Neogene amphibians and reptiles (Caudata, Anura, Gekkota, Lacertilia, and Testudines) from the south of Western Siberia, Russia, and Northeastern Kazakhstan. PeerJ 5:e3025, DOI 10.7717/peerj.3025

Jost, J., Kälin, D., Börner, S., Vasilyan, D., Lawver, D., Reichenbacher, B. 2015. Vertebrate microfossils from the Upper Freshwater Molasse in the Swiss Molasse Basin: Implications for the evolution of the North Alpine Foreland Basin during the Miocene Climatic Optimum. - Palaeogeography Palaeoclimatology Palaeoecology 426: 22-33.

Vasilyan, D., Schneider, S., Bayraktutan, M.S., Şen, Ş. 2014. Early Pleistocene freshwater communities and rodents from the Pasinler Basin (Erzurum Province, north-eastern Turkey). Turkish Journal of Earth Sciences 23(3): 1-15.

Böhme, M., Vasilyan, D. 2014. Ectothermic vertebrates from the late Middle Miocene of Gratkorn (Austria, Styria). Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments 94: 21-40.

Prieto, J., Angelone, C., Casanovas-Vilar, I., Gross, M., Hír, J., van den Hoek Ostende, L.W., Maul, L., Vasilyan, D. 2014. The small mammals from Gratkorn: an overview. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments 94: 135-162.

Vasilyan, D., Carnevale, G. 2013. The Afro–Asian labeonine genus Hamilton, 1922 (Teleostei, Cyprinidae) in the Pliocene of Central Armenia: Palaeoecological and palaeobiogeographical implications. Journal of Asian Earth Sciences 62: 788-796.

Vasilyan, D., Böhme, M., Chkhikvadze, V. M., Semenov Y. A., Joyce W.G. 2013. A new giant salamander (Urodela, Pancryptobrancha) from the Miocene of Eastern Europe (Grytsiv, Ukraine). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 33(2): 301-318.

Vasilyan, D., Böhme M. 2012: Pronounced Peramorphosis in Lissamphibians— (Urodela, Cryptobranchidae) from the Paleocene–Eocene Thermal Maximum of Mongolia. - PLoS ONE 7(9): e40665

Böhme M., Vasilyan, D., Winklhofer M. 2012. Habitat tracking, range dynamics and palaeoclimatic significance of Eurasian giant salamanders (Cryptobranchidae) — indications for elevated Central Asian humidity during Cenozoic global warm periods. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 342-343: 64-72.

Vasilyan, D. 2011: Paleontological notes: Fossil Amphibians and Reptiles of Armenia. In book: Arakelyan M., Danielyan F., Corti J. et al. (2011). Herpetofauna of Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. p. 19-20.

Reichenbacher B., Alimohammadian H., Sabouri J., Haghfarshi E., Faridi M., Abbasi S., Matzke-Karasz R., Fellin M. G., Carnevale G., Schiller W., Vasilyan, D., Scharrer S. 2011. Stratigraphy, palaeoecology and palaeogeography of the Neogene in the Tabriz Basin (NW Iran). Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology. 311(1-2): 1-18.

Vasilyan, D., Reichenbacher, B., Carnevale, G. 2009. A new fossil Aphanius species from the Upper Miocene of Armenia (Eastern Paratethys). Paläontologische Zeitschrift. 83(4): 511-519

Vasilyan, D., Stepanyan, I., Pipoyan, S. 2009. Karyotypes of some Cypriniform fishes from the water bodies of Armenia. Journal of Ichthyology. 49(8): 627-634


Vasilyan, D. 2016. Entstehung des Lebens aus dem Wasser. In book: Triebskorn, R. & Wertheimer, J. (eds.) Wasser als Quelle des Lebens. p. 17-30.

Pipoyan S. Kh., Vasilyan, D., Gabrielyan I. P. 2011. Fossil fishes of Armenia. Biological Journal of Armenia. 1(63): 56-61. [in Russian]

Vasilyan, D. 2008. The new fossil species of dace Leuciscus (Telestes) cf. souffia Risso, 1826 from the Pleistocene sediments of Ararat depression of Armenia. Biological Journal of Armenia. 65(4): 79-84. [in Russian]

A new fossil species of dace

Vasilyan, D. 2008. The fishes of Pliocene – Pleistocene of Armenia and their sense for paleoclimatological studies. Bulletin of MANEB. 13(4,2): 60-65. [in Russian]

The fishes of Pliocene – Pleistocene of Armenia


Vasilyan D., Böhme M., Winklhofer M. 2010. The paleoclimatic significance of Eurasian Giant Salamanders (Cryptobranchidae) – indications for elevated humidity in the Eastern Paratethys area during global warm periods (Late Oligocene warming, Miocene Climate Optimum, Early Pliocene warming). AAPG European Region Annual Conference and Exhibition. 17-19 October 2010, Kiev, Ukraine.

The paleoclimatic significance of Eurasian Giant Salamanders

The paleoclimatic significance of Eurasian Giant Salamanders (10 MB)