Terrestrische Paläoklimatologie

Gabriel Ferreira, Ph.D student

Curriculum Vitae

Research interests

I am broadly interested in evolutionary biology, more specifically in issues related to how morphology evolves through time. Time can have different meanings in this regard – from the individual ontogenetic to the taxic phylogenetic scales. When addressing this issue, it is important to consider organisms and lineages as parts of the same evolutionary process, and to employ a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches from distinct biological areas, such as systematics, paleontology, evolutionary morphology and comparative developmental biology. Thus, my research involves methods from these different fields, such as micro-tomography, comparative anatomy, embryology and histology, geometric morphometrics and phylogenetic systematics.

My Ph.D. project is conceived in this framework. I want to explore the evolution of the head and neck morphology in turtles using this holistic approach. To do so, I study specific features of the turtle head, such as the jaw musculature, nerve and arterial patterns, brain endocasts, and cervical vertebrae, using morphological analyses of extinct and extant taxa, reconstructions of soft tissue in fossils, and comparative analyses of ontogenetic series. By the end of this project, I wish to answer some questions about the turtle evolution, including how the bone structures of the skull are related to the different arrangements of the jaw musculature in pleurodires and cryptodires, extant turtle lineages; how do the different muscle units develop on those lineages; how the jaw musculature looked like on stem-turtles; and what was the shape of the brain in stem-turtles and how did it changed along the evolution of this lineage.

Five selected publications

Ferreira, G.S., M.C. Langer. 2013. A pelomedusoid (Testudines, Pleurodira) plastron from the Lower Cretaceous of Alagoas, Brazil. Cretaceous Research 46: 267-271


Ferreira, G.S., A.D. Rincón, A. Solórzano, M.C. Langer. 2015. The last marine pelomedusoids (Testudines: Pleurodira): a new species of Bairdemys and the paleoecology of Stereogenyina. PeerJ 3: e1063


Ferreira, G.S., A.D. Rincón, A. Solórzano, M.C. Langer. 2016. Review of the fossil matamata turtles: earliest well-dated record and hypotheses on the origin of their present geographical distribution. The Science of Nature 103(28)


Ferreira, G.S. 2016. Abordagens convergentes, novidades evolutivas e a origem da carapaça das tartarugas. Revista da Biologia 16(1): 1-6

Hermanson, G., G.S. Ferreira, M.C. Langer. 2016. The largest Cretaceous podocnemidoid turtle (Pleurodira) revealed by an isolated plate from the Bauru Basin, south-central Brazil. Historical Biology 28(6): 833-840.