Secretary General

Dr. sc. nat. 

T +41 41 229 50 07 
F +41 41 229 51 85
wolfgang.schatzremove-this.@remove-this.unilu.ch 

Frohburgstrasse 3, Room 4.A42

CV

Master in Earth Sciences ( ETH/University of Zurich). PhD in Paleontology (University of Zurich). Senior Researcher at the Paleontological Institute and Museum of the University of Zurich (2000 - 2006). Leading different projects in relation to the European Bologna Reform in Higher Education, Curriculum Development and Teaching Development at the ETH Zurich. Lecturer in Earth Sciences and Paleontology at ETH Zurich and University of Zurich, lecturer at the University of Lucerne. Teacher in faculty development courses at the University of Berne and the University of Zurich. 

Research

A selection of completed research projects in paleontology.

From Morphology to Functionality - Development and application of a Bivalve Burrowing Simulation

Burrowing robot

Abstract 

In this interdisciplinary project with scientists from paleontology and computer science, one tries to deepen the understanding of evolution of bivalves using computer simulated evolution. These animals live in different habitats, where they hide in different soils. The differences of these habitats, let them develop different digging behaviors and different shells to hide from predators. In order to understand the different selection pressures leading to different shell shapes as well as digging behavior, we simulate different bivalves in simulation and try to evolve different kinds of bivalves. These evolved results are then produced in a 3D-printer and also tried out with a digging robot consisting of the shells and an actuating mechanisms. The obtained results are then compared with living bivalves as well as with fossils. 

The project aims towards two different goals: In Paleontology we hope to discern in simulation the effects of the selection pressure for "good* digging on the shape of the shells and the digging behavior. In computer science we hope to deepen our understanding of evolution in order to construct better artificial evolutionary systems.

ProjectLeaders 

Dr. Peter Eggenberger Hotz, 
Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Universität Zürich

Dr. Wolfgang Schatz, 
Universität Luzern

Funding 

SNF Project no. 113934 

Duration

2008–2013 

PamirsJointProject - Stratigraphy of Mid-Upper Triassic sequences of South-Eastern Pamirs with analysis of distribution of bivalves (Halobidae), corals, ammonoids and conodonts

Triassic succession at Kobrigen
Triassic succession at Kobrigen

Abstract

This international project is an interdisciplinary approach to broaden the understanding of the complex interaction between biotic and abiotic processes. The advantage of palaeobiological studies is the possibility to follow fauna successions through time and different environments. Therefore, it is intended to provide new and better insights into topical questions within palaeobiology, sedimentology, and stratigraphy.

The South-Eastern Pamirs (Gorno-Badachsan, Tajikistan) is an ideal area for the above-mentioned interdisciplinary study. The Triassic sequences (250-205 Ma.) of South-Eastern Pamirs are characterized by a heterotropic development of facies (platform - basin successions) and a rich cosmopolitan invertebrate fauna. Furthermore, the Mid-Upper Triassic sequences seem to be without gaps, thus a maximum of information is ensured.

In a first step, an exploratory field study was accomplished. 

Main goals

  • To establish a global stratigraphic correlation for Mid-Upper Triassic sequences, based on fossils.
  • To understand the evolutive pathways and global spreading patterns of halobiids bivalves and corals.
  • To do comparative analyses and correlations of basin-reef succession (stratigraphic correlation, platform growth, sea level curves, Milankovich-cyclicity).
  • To apprehend the palaeoecology of so called "paper pectens" (thin shelled bivalves from black shales).

Index Terms

Triassic, Bivalvia, Daonella, Halobia, Pamirs, Tajikistan

ProjectLeader 

Wolfgang Schatz, Paleontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich

In Collaboration with

  • Prof. Dr. Andrej V. Dronov, Geological Faculty of St. Petersburg State University, Russia
  • Dr. Victor Dronov, Geological Institute of the Tadjik Academy of Science, Dushanbe, Tadschikistan

Student participation (Master-Thesis)

  • Andrej Stogansov, State University of St. Petersburg, Russia

Funding

  • G. & A. Claraz-Schenkung, Zurich
  • Commission for Research Partnerships with Developing Countries
  • Commission for Oceanography and Limnology

Duration

2003–2005

 

Combining Genetical, Developmental, and Evolutionary Processes in an Artificial System to Evolve the Morphology of the Precambrian Dickinsonia costata

Dickinsonia costata
Dickinsonia costata

Abstract

The goal of this project was the development of an artificial system in order to examine the evolutionary relations between genome changes and external morphology. This goal was achieved by combining genetical, developmental, and evolutionary processes to evolve the morphology of the Precambrian fossil Dickinsonia costata. On one hand computer science may provide a reliable tool to investigate aspects of morphology and ecology of a fossil organism, which cannot be gained by the fossil record. On the other hand, paleontology provides an insight into the processes of morphological changes in time (e.g. anagegesis, evolutionary pathways). Therefore, paleontology improves our knowledge about evolutionary processes. In this work collaboration between computer science and paleontology is established using the advantages of one another.

The artificial evolutionary model is based on cells each equipped with a genome. Each gene within the genome is linked to a function or a product (analog of a structural gene) and is regulated by one or several regulatory units. Each cell will perform its linked function (cell division and cell adhesion) depending on the subset of active genes. Cellular interactions implemented as viscoelastic elements are simulated. A differential genetic regulatory network -controlling the developmental processes - forms the core of the artificial evolutionary system. It is coupled to a simulator, which describes intercellular forces.

In the field of paleontology and computer science further applications of the herein proposed artificial evolutionary system are conceivable like investigations on phenotypic plasticity, simulating locomotion of extinct organisms (and therefore a possible linking of fossil traces and its originator), new approaches in development and control of modular robots.

Index Terms 

Artificial evolutionary system, computer simulation, Ediacara biota, Dickinsonia costata

ProjectLeaders 

Eggenberger Hotz, Peter, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Dept. of Informatics, University of Zurich

Wolfgang Schatz, Paleontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich

In Collaboration with

  • Prof. Dr. Rolf Pfeifer, Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Dept. of Informatics, University of Zurich
  • Prof. Dr. R. Wehner, Institute of Zoology, University of Zurich

Student participation (Master-Thesis)

  • dipl. zool. Maik Hadorn, Department of Informatics, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Duration

2003–2005

Biostratigraphic investigation in the Middle Triassic sediments of Liechtenstein and Vorarlberg (Austria)

Middle Triassic sediments

Abstract

The biostratigraphic framework of the Arlberg area has never been studied in detail. Therefore, we established detailed profiles of the Middle Triassic basins and platforms. The aim of the study was a reliable (biostratigraphic) correlation of the Eastern Alps and the Southern Alps. This will help to construct an enhanced palaeogeographic pattern of this area. Our reconstructions, based on bivalves, palynomorphs, and lithological correlations, overcome the stratigraphic problems which prevailed due to the scarcity of ammonoids in the sections. 

Index Terms

Triassic, Bivalvia, Daonella, Biostratigraphy, Palynology, Northern Calcareous Alps

ProjectLeader

Wolfgang Schatz, Paleontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich

In Collaboration with

  • Dr. Robert Mundil, Geochronology Center, Berkeley University USA
  • PD Dr. Peter Hochuli, Paleontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • Dr. Peter Brack, Geological Institute ETH Zurich, Switzerland

Student participation (Master-Thesis)

  • dipl. geol. Thomas Brühwiler, Paleontological Institute and Museum, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Duration

2002–2004

Palaeoecology, fluctuations in conch morphology, palaeobiogeography, extinctions and immigrations of Triassic cephalopods from the Germanic Basin

Abstract

Among the few cephalopod genera from the Muschelkalk, specimens of the ammonoid genera Cerat-ites and Paraceratites outnumber representatives of other genera with respect to diversity, morpho-logical disparity, as well as abundance by far. During the late Anisian and Ladinian, the species of Ceratites and Paraceratites underwent continuous morphological transformations that are reflected in a fairly large number of species and subspecies as well as successive biozones, respectively.

For a stratophenetic analysis of Middle Triassic ammonoids from the German Muschelkalk, data sets of numerous specimens of Ceratites and Paraceratites, were evaluated in scattergraphs as well as canonical discriminant function analyses. Several of the diagrams, which were produced in these analyses, reflect more or less steady changes in conch morphology through geological time, except for some intervals with abrupt and drastic transformations. These morphological discontinuities are synchronous with immigrations of crinoid and brachiopod taxa. This indicates disturbances in the endemic evolution of the ammonoids caused by extinctions and immigrations. At a small scale, this case study demonstrates that a rising sea-level may have boosted the faunal exchange between an open marine and a restricted epicontinental basin, causing a minor regional increase in biodiversity.

Project Leader

Christian Klug, Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Universität Zürich; Switzerland

Dr. W. Schatz (Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Universität Zürich; Switzerland) 
Dr. D. Korn (Museum für Naturkunde der Humboldt Universität zu Berlin; Germany) 
A. G. Reisdorf (Universität Basel, Geologisch-Paläontologisches Institut; Switzerland)

Duration

2003–2005

Publications

Journal Article

Book Section

(working, research, annual) report, expert opinion, expertise

Achievements

Conference contribution/presentation

Single lecture, talk, presentation at invitation

(Peer reviewing) for journals/books/book chapters

Teaching

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