Currently visiting: Peter Frenzel


Since March, the palaeontologist Peter Frenzel is visiting professor at the Department of Palaeontology. Driven by the "fascination of recreating lost worlds", he investigates the history of life on Earth and the complex interlinked processes of the Earth system. "The view through the microscope opens a new world of beautiful creatures which are as well archives of the past", explains the palaeontologist and palaeoecologist from the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena.

  • What is so fascinating about your research area?

My fascination of palaeontology and palaeoecology is mainly driven by the fascination of recreating lost worlds, a fascination starting in my childhood already. Based on the detailed study of fossils and sedimentary rocks we can reconstruct extinct organisms, landscapes, ecosystems, and environmental changes through earth history. Thus, not only the history of life on earth is documented, including our own origins and ancestors, but also the complex interlinked processes of the earth system. Understanding these processes is urgently needed in times of global change and increasing anthropogenic pressures.

  • Which central message should your students remember?

 I will give two courses during my stay, both about microfossils and their applications. Usually, such fossils are so small that you need a microscope to work with and people outside geosciences and biology often never heard about. But the view through the microscope opens a new world of beautiful creatures which are as well archives of the past. They tell much about the environment they lived in if they are identified and their ecology is known. In this way a complex story of environmental changes can be drawn from a sediment core or outcrop section based on some knowledge and experience. Such reconstructions are very useful in palaeoecology, geoarchaeology, conservational palaeobiology and other fields of palaeo-research.


  • Why did you decide to do research and teach at our Faculty?

 Petra Heinz is a well-known specialist on Foraminifera. I want to learn from her expertise on culturing these protozoans and we will work on a joint research proposal. But there are more colleagues to exchange knowledge and experience within the Department of Palaeontology in Vienna, a research centre of palaeontology with a great history and fascinating collections. Furthermore, we want to bring the European School on Ostracoda (ESO) to Vienna this year, ESO is a one-week course introducing young students to the world of Ostracoda, another important group of microfossils.

  • Which three publications characterise your work?

P. Frenzel (2019): Fossils of the southern Baltic Sea as palaeoenvironmental indicators in multi-proxy studies. ― Quaternary International, 511: 6-21.
P. Frenzel, J. Ewald, and A. Pint (2017): Salinity-dependant sieve pore variability in Cyprideis torosa – an experiment. ― Journal of Micropalaeontology, 36 (1): 57-62.
P. Frenzel, D. Keyser and F.A. Viehberg (2010): An illustrated key and (palaeo)ecological primer for Recent to Postglacial Ostracoda (Crustacea) of the Baltic Sea. — Boreas, 39: 567-575.

Thank you & welcome to our Faculty!


  • Peter Frenzel is apl. Prof. Dr. at the Institute of Earth Sciences of Friedrich Schiller University of Jena. His main fields of interest are Quaternary palaeoenvironmental and actualistic studies based on Ostracoda and Foraminifera addressing research questions of anthopogenic impacts, palaeoclimatology, sea and lake level changes as well as geoarchaeology in inland waters and marginal marine systems world wide. Doing this he relies on (palaeo)ecological analyses including multivariate techniques, morphological and shell chemistry approaches backed by a reliable taxonomy. More about him
  • Working group / host professor: Palaeoecosystems / Petra Heinz
  • Courses in the summer term:

In the summer term 2022 the palaeontologist Peter Frenzel is visiting professor at our Faculty. He will teach two courses and is also organizing the European School on Ostracoda (ESO) in Vienna together with Petra Heinz. Photo: © Peter Frenzel

Field work in the lake Puma Yumco on the Tibetan Plateau. Photo: © Peter Frenzel

Microfossils from the Holstein Interglacial of NE Germany. The largest ostracode shells have a length about 1 mm. Photo: © Peter Frenzel

A Recent ostracod from the coast of South Africa. Length approximately 1 mm. Photo: © Peter Frenzel