Our research aims to tackle several major evolutionary topics, including early vertebrate evolution, evolution of flight in pollinators, animal terrestrialization, thermofisiology in deeptime, and the nature of organismal evolution.


Vertebrates, our own evolutionary lineage, constitute one of the most diversified and successful groups of animals. Debate over the origin and evolution of vertebrate bodyplan has occupied biologists and palaeontologists alike for centuries but discussions around this topic have been hindered because living vertebrates (i.e., cyclostomes, chondrychtyans and osteichyans) are unrepresentative of the ancestral lineages in which the bodyplan was established.

The fossil record is therefore crucial to inform on early vertebrate evolution by revealing the timing and tempo of character acquisition and testing hypotheses on the driving factors. We are interested in elucidating the scenarios in which the major groups of vertebrates emerged and to shed light onto the underlying selective forces that drove the main evolutionary transitions of the group.


Major modern groups of flower-pollinating insects radiated synchronously to angiosperms (flowering plants) in the mid-Cretaceous as a result of one the most formative episodes of coevolution in the history of life. Elucidation of the adaptations in modern groups of pollinators that underpinned this transition has been a central question to clarify the factors that underlid the establishment of the angiosperm-pollinator coevolutionary systems and prompted the rapid diversification and supremacy of the flowering plants (i.e., the so-called Darwin’s ‘abominable mystery’).

Flight performance of pollinators holds a high potential to impact plant-pollinator coevolutionary dynamics by directly affecting foraging efficiency, maneuverability, and plant community connectivity. We are interested in understanding which modifications in the locomotor system of pollinators occurred during this evolutionary transition.


Constraining the timing and tempo of animal terrestrialisation is a central question in evolutionary biology. However, the debate around this topic has been hampered because some of the groups that occupy key phylogenetic positions to comprehend this evolutionary transition are now extinct and have few or no ecological analogues in which to support reliable palaeoecological inferences.

Computational techniques such as Finite Element Analyses or Computational Fluid Dynamics are essential modern methods for studying fossils, providing important functional information that resolves many palaeoecological questions in a quantitative, testable way. We are interested in applying these biomechanical approaches to illuminate our understanding on arthropod and vertebrate terrestrialisation events.


Body size is a critical biological trait for all organisms, determining different aspects of their physiology, anatomy, ecology, and life history. The influence of body size goes beyond the individual level, reaching multiple scales of organization and affecting the structure and dynamics of ecological networks, with implications for food web stability, the patterning of energy fluxes, and the responses to perturbations.

For these reasons, the evolution of gigantism has long been a topic of considerable interest among biologists. We are interested in understanding the nexus between body size, (thermo)physiology, and ecology in a macroevolutionary scale employing isotopic data, modelling, and biomechanical approaches.


The discussion over the contingency vs. determinism in evolution is a long-standing debate in biological research. On one hand, some argue that the history of life is the result of a series of chance events, in which case, the outcomes of evolution are unpredictable and replaying the tape of life with a different sequence of events would lead to a different result.

On the other side, others perceive organismal evolution to be highly constrained and determined, either by the extent of integration and interdependence of body parts or else by functionally optimal ‘attractors’ that render evolutionary outcomes positively inevitable. We are interested in testing competing hypotheses on the nature of organismal evolution using marine tetrapods as parallel natural evolutionary experiments from which to derive general nomothetic principles.