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Early phase in Bonn Dieter joins in Ulm phase: part 1 | part 2/ CORE phase | part 3/after Klaus
History of the 'Orsten' Research in Bonn and Ulm
Early Phase (Bonn I, particularly from 1975 onward)
Klaus Müller was born in Berlin, where he had finished his dissertation just after the 2nd World War and then habilitated tehre too. After one research year in the United states, he returned and received a C4 professorship for micropalaeontology at the Institute of Palaeontology of the University of Bonn. Klaus had always been very interested in all kinds of exceptional preservation, such as silification and phosphatisation, and for a longer time worked on Cambrian conodonts systematically and on their inner fine structure, partly together with his Japanese colleague, Prof. Nogami.
Already in 1964, Klaus had published a long paper on Swedish Cambrian bivalved arthropods called Phosphatocopina, but it took until 1975, when the first fossils in an 'Orsten'-type soft-integument preservation was detected by him and his technical assistants. Klaus immediately realized the importance of these findings because of their high quality of preservation and completeness, and because of their high age.
Using considerable personal and lobarotory efforts (including special microscopes [Zeiss] for sorting), more than 1 1/2 tons of 'Orsten' limestone rock were dissolved in a specifically designed laboratory in Bonn, and the insoluble residues picked by the technical assistants and pre-documented using a scanning electron microscope (the legendary Cambridge S4).
Without this extremely high effort, Klaus' knowledge of chemistry, his organizational skills, and his lasting high interest, this exceptionally rare material would have neverbeen assembled in a quantity needed for our thorough analysis. Yet, a severe illness cause Klaus to pause in the late 19seventies. His illness was extremely severe, and he had to stay at the hospital for quite some time.
During this period, Klaus could, however, rely on several invaluable and skilled assistants who continued to sort the material, prepare the first results, i.e. specimens in microslides or on SEM stubs, which are investigated now in Ulm. His assistants also made the first SEM photographs.
Four persons have to be named here in particular:
- Mrs. A. Grossmann, right hand of Klaus in the early days,
- Mrs. Peilert, who was thanked for her sorting effort by giving Dala its species name peilertae
- Mrs. Helga Rehbach, who sorted much of the material and was name-giving for Rehbachiella,
- Mrs. Annemarie Gossmann, who assisted Klaus far into the 1990ies (one species the pentastomids was named gossmannae after her).
It became soon clear to Klaus that he alone would not be able to work up this diverse material, preserved in a "biological quality" in an adequate way. At this step, he had to decide either to continue looking for other 'Orsten'-like occurrences worldwide or to investigate the 'Orsten' fauna in much depth, i.e. with a biological background.
Klaus finally decided in favour of an in-depth-study of the 'Orsten' fauna and to postpone further search for similar 'Orsten'-type faunas for the time being. This is, when Dieter joined in ...
Besides the intense Orsten research Klaus started after the discovery of "soft parts", he continued his work on other phosphatic microfossils, mainly the conodonts, which culminated in a large monograph on this taxon together with Ingelore Hinz-Schallreuter in 1993 published in Fossils and Strata. He also continued to work on shelly fragments, e.g. in material from Australia, which also contained sceletal elements of the cuticle of certain, most likely cycloneuralian nemathelminths called palaeoscolecids. Papers on certain shall shellies and on palaeoscolecids were also published in conjunction with Ingelore Hinz-Schallreuter.
Phase of the co-operation of Dieter Waloszek and Klaus Müller (Bonn II)
This phase started 1981, when Klaus assistant Raimond Below had to join the army. In order not to let the position empty, Klaus hired Dieter as a research assistant for one year. During this time, Dieter prepared much of the Müller (1983) paper on six non-phosphatocopine Orsten Crustacea. Dieter left Bonn at the end of 1981 with the promise of a contract in his pocket if he would finish his pdh in due course (one year).
In 1982, Dieter had finished much of his dissertation thesis and was allowed to return to Bonn and into Klaus' working group already in fall. After the successful defence of his thesis in spring 1983, Dieter received a full research position in Bonn and collaborated with Klaus until 1994 long after Klaus had formally retired.
Some key events: the invitation by Euan Clarkson to a conference in Edinburgh in 1984 on "Fossil arthropods as living organisms", Dieter's visit of Robert Hessler and William Newman at the SCRIPPS Insitution of Oceanography in California in 1986 and his visit to Australia together with Raimond Below in the same year to discover more Orsten-type material in the outback of the Northern Territory.
First publications on this appeared a few years later, and more are currently in press. Guides of this trip were the late John Shergold from Canberra, Australia, well known for his agnostid studies, and John Laurie, still active in Australia.
In 1989 Dieter went again to the SCRIPPS Institution and also to various other places to give talks, including Chicago, meeting Roy Plotnick, Cambridge, Boston/Cambridge, where he was lucky to meet Stephen J. Gould, and Walpole, Maine, meeting Les Watling.
1990 was of significance in two ways, the publication of the first paper following the method of phylogenetic systematics (Walossek & Müller 1990, see list of references), and the submission of Dieter's habilitation. The habilitation was delayed by so good colelagues in Germany, so that the successful defence and end of the procedure was in late 1991! The resulting, more than 200 pages long habilitation was printed in 2003 as one of the monographs in Fossils and Strata (see references).
Of further significance was that in 1990 Dieter was invited to a workshop on crustacean phylogeny by the Royal Academy of Sweden to the Kristineberg Marine Station in Fiskebäskil, Sweden. This meeting was of great significance and brought together the "old guys", e.g. Larry Abele, Jan Bergström, Erik Dahl, Rolf Elofsson, Geoffrey Fryer, Robert Hessler, Ian Rolfe, William Newman, Horst Kurt Schminke and Jarl-Ove Strömberg, and the "youngsters" Matz Berggren, Derek Briggs, Geoffrey Boxshall, Mark Grygier, Jens Høeg, Joel Martin, Wolfgang Wägele, Dieter Waloszek, Lew Watling and George Wilson. Strangely enough this was not good enough for the commission of the DFG to approve Dieter's application for a Heisenberg grant!
Luckily the 'Orsten' project, initiated and led by Klaus, was continuously funded by the German Research Foundation DFG until 1994, even long after Klaus's retirement in 1988! During his long working period, the principal focus of Klaus and, later together with Dieter, on the arthropod components in the faunal associations (4 big Fossils & Strata monographs resulted from this and various smaller papers, some still available, ask us for a copy). Yet, they were able to progressively expanded their studies also to material from different ages, e.g., from the Middle Cambrian, to the boundary between Cambrian and Ordovician, from different regions, e.g., Canada, Russia, Australia, and Poland, to material also from other groups of organisms, such as Pentastomida, Tardigrada, Nemathelminthes, and some Problematica (examples given below).
In 1992/3, Andreas Braun joined in and travelled together with Klaus and Dieter to Moscow to negotiate new collaborations and material in fact a few hundred grams yielded successively four specimens the oldest tardigrade in the fossil record (regrettably not yet formally described).
In the same year Klaus and Dieter had a nice joint field trip to Sweden, visiting Öland, Östergötland (Motala) and Västergötland. In 1994 Dieter and Klaus published a paper on the oldest parasites ever found, members of the worm-shaped stem arthropods Pentastomida (tongue worms). 1994 caused also a big break because Dieter's job expired in Bonn and received a substitute professorship in Kiel. This position may have resulted in the successful application for a permanent professorship at the University of Ulm not in Hamburg, as Dieter had expected or hoped because of his northern German origin.
Ulm phase part I (from 1995 onward)
Since April 1995, Dieter is working at the university of Ulm. Together with the professorship he received the position of the head of the newly established Section for Biosystematic Documentation, which was, however, closed down in 2006 by the University due to so-called "structural re-organisation". After this, we are "only" a workgroup, no longer independant but under the head of the Institute of Ecology (note: Systematics within Ecology!!!).
Continuation of the 'Orsten' research was guaranteed by Klaus, who kindly permitted the transfer of the whole material to Ulm it will of course remain in the collection of the Bonn Palaeontological Institute eventually. Klaus is still continuing to participate in our studies, not so much in co-authoring and work any longer, but in discussing matters with us from time to time and in supporting our work.
In 1997 Andreas Maas, funnily born in the same small town Kellinghusen in Schleswig-Holstein as Dieter, joined in, starting to work on euphausiid larvae (Euphausia superba) and euphausiid phylogeny as topic of his diploma work. He knew Dieetr from his study in Kiel, where he had joined Dieters course on Crustacea and also was examined by him during the Vordiplom examen.
The real comeback of 'Orsten' research took indeed no less than four years. It started when this Dieter received a DFG-funded grant DFG grant for Andreas in 1999 to investigate the huge material of Phosphatocopina in the frame of a doctorate thesis (3-years project).
Exploration of new 'Orsten' occurrences worldwide in younger, and, even more important, in strata older than the Swedish Orsten was postponed by Klaus and Dieter due to lack of "hands free". This was reconsidered in the mid-nineties, when Andreas Braun joined the 'Orsten' working group in Bonn (our joint trip to Moscow, Russia in 1992 had yielded the little tardigrade from Siberia), but it took some time until we could do more in this direction.
In 2001, Andreas Braun and Dieter could undertake an extended field trip to the tundra of north eastern Siberia (Olenek river area suth of the Lena delta), where they collected about 100 kg of rock material hoping to get more 'Orsten'-type fossils (financed by Klaus). Some images of this most remarkable expedition guided by two Russian field geologists below.
In 2002 Andreas successfully defended his dissertation, the big paper on phosphatocopines, which could, in 2003, be published in Fossils and Strata as a nice further monograph on the 'Orsten' (our fifth one on 'Orsten' arthropods).
Currently, Andreas is working as Dieter's research assistant in the section, having collaborated with Dieter also on Chengjiang fossils from 2002 to 2005. In the meantime he also finished his habilitation successfully (April 2008).
In 2003 Martin Stein, palaeontology student from the university of Marburg, started to work on 'Orsten' "odds and ends" in the course of our DFG project and also helped in the China project, in which Dieter, Andreas and also Andreas Braun were engaged at that time. In the early summer of 2004 Martin left us us for a better paid postion in Uppsala, Sweden, but continued working with us on different projects since then see below.
From March 2004 until May 2005 Andreas Braun had been able to devote his efforts exclusively to tasks within the frame of our directed search and work in China. The 2004 highlight was a trip to Sweden, Öland and Västergötland (Falbygden and Kinnekulle) together with Martin as our translator. There, we could meet John Ahlgren, amateur palaeontologist and profound expert of the Kinnekulle area. John gave us some rock, from which we successfully extracted more pentastomid material, indeed almost 10 times as much as we had before! Since we were unable to work on the nice material, we passed it over to Christopher Castellani from France, who joined us in fall 2007 working on EU project money. The paper appeared early 2011.
Already when Martin stayed with us in Ulm, and later in Uppsala, Sweden, he learnt himself to develop 3D models using the software Blender. Since we worked together on one of our critters named Oelandocaris oelandica Müller, 1983, he not only produced Illustrator and Blender models but could even animate the animal in a nice and persuasive manner (klick here to see Oelandocaris swimming).
After a first short publication on Oelandocaris oelandica (Stein et al. 2005), we have continued to work on a more detailed paper about this interesting "stem crustacean". The resulting paper has been published in 2008 (see publications). Martin could also discriminate several different ontogenetic stages, which led a a better structuring of the morphology not as a variation, but as differences between the specimens due to developmental differences.
On the right side a sequence of images taken out of the movie to demonstrate the movement also in a publication.
Ulm phase part II (from 2005 onward)
We consider spring 2005 as the date of a new period because we founded the international C.O.R.E. group. For long we had thought of something like a workgroup that aims at the concentration of expertise and the possible/hopefully even exploration of new sites, but at this time we put it into reality, and we could immediately attract several scientists to join in. The major tasks of the group during the next years will be to combine skills and expertise from different disciplines, to train youngsters and to help each other in the research on 'Orsten' and related issues.
Exciting new 'Orsten' material has been brought up in particular by our Chinese members Dong Xi-ping and Zhang Xi-guang, who discovered 'Orsten' 3D arthropods in China and joined in in 2005. More has been provided by Ewa Olempska from Poland joining in in 2005. Collaborations concerning this material are under way. We were also happy to recruit colleagues like the palaeontologist John Repetski from the USA, and David Siveter and Euan Clarkson, UK, both well-known palaeontologists, in 2005, with whom we had already co-operations before. David worked on various palaeozoic forms, including the 3D-'Orsten'-type preserved phosphatocopine from Comley, UK., and Euan is working for long on trilobites from the Swedish alum shales. Phil Donoghue joined in later during 2005 adding his expertise on embryo fossils (mainly nemathelminths). A big set arrived with colleagues from Copenhagen, Jens Høeg and Jørgen Olesen, working on crustaceans, and Reinhardt Kristensen working on minute animals like tardigrades and much more. Also zoologists like the Low-Reynolds specialist and expert on meiofauna crustaceans and highspeed cinematopgraphy, Rudi Strickler from Milwaukee, USA, or the chelicerate specialist Jason Dunlop from Berlin became members during 2005. With this, our group grew rapidly.
In December 2005 Joachim Haug started his PhD project on 'Orsten' larvae, and he and his wife Carolin Haug were welcomed as new C.O.R.E.-Group members. Joachim was first collaborating in a project embedded in the DFG Priority Programme "Deep Metazoan Phylogeny", and after successful application, in a second project also funded by the DFG. After his very successful disputation, Joachim continued his work in Ulm as a postdoc, but moved this year to Yale University on a Feodor-Lynen grant by the Alexander-von-Humboldt-Foundation.
Already the first few months of Joachim's collaboration indicated that new things are to be expected. His huge effort and his enthusiasm led to a much better insight of the ontogeny of stem crustaceans, corrected various views based on our admittedly incomplete and, partly rough studies in 1990, and his excellent background in arthropods and the theory of Phylogenetic Systematics also helped much in our discussions. Furthermore, his 3D reconstructions, initiated by Martin, will bring us much forward in a better way of comparing the different taxa and also to make comparisons with extant counterparts in terms of relationships or morphological/ecological similarities. In the meantime we have more than 10 species in three dee and now even in 4D, an new word created by Joachim for the modelling of 3D animals during ontogeny/time.
David Siveter visited Ulm in January 2006 continuing some work, and Dieter and Andreas met Dong Xiping and Zhang Xi-guang in China. Next, we could welcome the trilobite specialist Nigel Hughes in Ulm, who visited Dieter after a short stay in Tübingen.
In April 2006 Liu Yu, who had finished his Master work on Chengjiang material (in the lab of Professor Hou), joined the club. Yu is investigating the fate of the second segment of the arthropod head (that innervated by the tritocerebral ganglion).
Subsequently the palaeontologist Michael Steiner from Berlin, having worked already for long on fossil embryos and other phosphatized microfossils from China. Dieter also had the chance to do some first joint investigations with Xiping Dong during his stay in Beijing, while he was attending the 2nd International Congress of Paleontologists there. At the end of 2006, the zoologist Georg Mayer, Berlin, visited us to work on our lobopodian, joined in by that time the CORE group had grown to 20 members. A good year end, enhanced by the membership of Gideon Haug, the youngest member (three months old by then).
Until early 2007, the CORE group grew further, attracting palaeontologists as well as zoologists, including Klaus Müller, the discoverer. David visited us again to finish up the paper on a new find from China (see below). During this year, Mark Williams, now in Leicester, joined in. Mark will continue work on the Lower Cambrian Comley locality because his project has been approved recently possibly even in collaboration with the Ulm team.
A severe event, and draw-back, was the discovery of prostate cancer for Dieter in May 2007, which forced him to be operated upon and radiation from October to December treatment. Although there are indications that also the radiation treatment did not stop the cancer.
Regrettably, Mrs. Silvia Simmet, Dieter's secretary, had to leave by the end of September 2007 due to a decision of the university. She is now working for another department, so that we have to do all administrative jobs ourselves............
Better news was the successful publication of Yicaris from the Lower Cambrian of China together with our CORE member Zhang Xiguang on October 4th in NATURE. By the end of 2007 also our friend John (Jompa) Ahlgren from Mariestad near the Kinnekulle, Shweden, joined in, filling up the team with a skilled artist!
The last of this year (so far) to join in was Christopher Castellani from France. Christopher started his job November 2, 2007, helping us in the frame of a EU-Molmorph funded position to work up the newly accumulated material of pentastomids from Västergötland. His job expired in October 2008, but we could expand the work by three months.
In February 2008, we could welcome two new CORE members, Zheng Lui from China, student of Dong Xiping, and Jakob Vinther from the USA, student of Derek Briggs. More on these two in due course. Lastly, after our summer holidays, Wolfgang Böckeler, Kiel, not only handed his entire pentastomid material over to us, but als became a CORE member, and recently Jean Vannier from France joined in, having a student, David Casenove, working on conodonts. Both visited our lab inspecting conodont material from Klaus Müller here.
Dieter had hoped that 2008 would bring him better news about his cancer but, regrettably, it still is just a hope to get back to "normal": cancer continued, though slowly, to grow, even after radiation. Even more, bad news was that a lymph bladder has to be operated this summer because it might have caused problems with thrombosis.
Something good during this year: Martin Stein successfully defenced his thesis in Uppsala in October and also could published major parts in the meantime.
The first highlight was Xiguang Zhangs' visit to us in Ulm to work on a few lower Cambrian crustacean larvae from his material. We had not only a good time at the SEM but also could work up all major things so that we hope to finish a ms on the larva in due course.
The successful defence of Joachim was the second highlight. All members of the jury were impressed by the work, the presentation and the following discussion one complete hour. After the defence we had a little party in the section and also Jes Rust from Bonn, as an external reviewer stayed with us to celebrate this event. This summer he went to Canada and the US to start some inspection also of the ontogeny of Burgess-Shale fossils. As a further highlight, Joachim just received the Rensch Prize of the Germal Society of Systematists in honour of his excellent dissertation and just now the Tilly-Edinger Prize of the Palaeontological Society of Germany.
Christopher's EU-funded contract ended by the end of October 2008 but this spring 2009 we could receive money for a PhD project for him from the German Research Council. Now he will continue in our lab working on the odds and ends in the Orsten material in a 3-years project as a cand rer. nat.
Another nice event was the successful defence by Yu in late July 2009. And, of course the nice performance of the Orstenies first indoors at the Burlafinger Fistball Hobby Tournament and second at the 2nd ourdoors Hobby Tournament in Ulm (Schwörturnier). It was great to learn that Yu will continue his carrer on a postdoc position in Munich in the lab of Professor Boyan from December 2009 onward. Though we regret to loose him as a team colleague we wish him all the best and congratulate him to this success. We will surely cooperate on more stuff in the future.
In the meantime we could attract two new members for the CORE group, Tom Harvey from Leicester, UK, and now also Gengo Tanaka from Gunma, Japan.
Concerning meetings, Carolin and Joachim attended the DZG Annual meeting, and most of us went to the Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Society of Germany. At this meeting Klaus received the honorary membership of the German Palaeontological Society, Dieter gave a key note at the Klaus-Müller Symposium, and Joachim the Tilly-Edinger-Prize for his excellent dissertation. Only Christopher travelled to the Palaeontological Association in December.
Ulm phase part 3 (the phase after Klaus)
A sad start: Klaus passed away March 12, 2010. With him we lost our not only the initiator of the research on the Orsten, but also a continuous collaborator, someone who encourages us to step further and a great supporter. We also lost Klaus's advice and knowledge about the Orsten and techniques, which will surely be missed and difficult to overcome.
In fall 2010, Dieter had a severe heart operation (valve) and tries to recover since then. Luckily, his PSA cancer value is still low enough not to start with chemical treatment.
Spring 2011 we could welcome a new member, Haruyoshi Maeda, again from Japan. Haruyoshi is also interested in taphonomic aspects, so will surely add more to this, not so much covered by us Ulm biologists. Then on March 11 occurred a big catastrophy in Japan, when not only a severe earthquake hit the northeast area of the main Island, with Tokyo on it, but also a tsunami destroyed a whole coastal area, and both resulted in the destroyance of parts of a nuclear power station. The danger of severe radiation of whole Japan was high, but luckily this super gau did not happen. Dieter was in Tokyo at that time but could manage to come home safely, and also our colleagues were all ok.
The next event was much more positive again: Carolin Haug successfully defended her thesis and is now no 5 on Dieter's list. Thereafter she and Joachim packed and moved with Gideon to their new place in the USA, Yale University, because Joachim had received, as said above, an honorable Feodor-Lynen grant from the Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation.
The win of the third fistball outdoor tournament in Ulm of the Orstenies was very nice our second first rank now , but it required hard fights, particularly in the final, which we won by just one point.
Back home from his holidays (in Sweden, as usual), Dieter went to Saarbrücken to give an honory lecture for Joachim, because Joachim had received his third scientific prize, this time of the DZG, the Deutsche Zoologische Gesellschaft (Horst-Wiehe-Preis). With this, Joachim has received all major prizes possible for systematists, GfBS, Pal. Ses and DZG. Congratulations!
And two more colleagues joined in, this time from Lund, Sweden: Mats Terfelt and Frederik Eriksson. Both are working on macrofaunal aspects of teh alum skiffer and Orsten.
The second weekend of January was a busy one: Joachim received his fourth prize, the Hintelmann Prize of the Friends of the Zoologische Staatssammlungen in Munich (and Dieter had to go there too to give another honorary lecture), and the Orstenies played fistball again in Burlafingen, this time with Christopher, Andreas and Dieter, supported by Dieter's children Lena and Christian and the Burlafingen player Andreas Schubert. They made it to the seventh rank, but may be with a little more luck could have done better.
In the meantime Carolin and Joachim developed their own website on Paleo Evo Devo: http://palaeo-evo-devo.info/
Moew new things soon ...................................