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It is with sorrow that we announce that Dolf Seilacher, one of the most influential paleontologists of his generation, recipient of the 1992 Crafoord Prize of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and the 1993 Paleontological Society medal, died at his home in Tübingen on Saturday April 26th at the age of 89.  In a long and distinguished career at the University of Tübingen (as graduate student and assistant, and then professor from 1964-1990) and at Yale University (where he taught from 1987 until 2009) Dolf Seilacher’s research focused on the interplay between extinct organisms and the environment in which they lived, as revealed by the evidence in sedimentary rocks.  He made fundamental contributions on how fossils are preserved including exceptional fossil deposits (Fossil-Lagerstätten), on trace fossils (which provide evidence of ancient behavior), and on the evolution of form, including the nature and affinities of the oldest large organisms that first appeared during the Ediacaran Period some 575 million years ago before the Cambrian explosion.   He created a remarkable book and exhibit on Fossil Art which toured museums around the world.  We will remember his wonderful company as guide, raconteur and good friend, his remarkable teaching, and his unique skills and insights as an observer and interpreter of specimens, both living and fossil.


A chapter by Derek Briggs describing Dolf Seilacher’s research on form and function (just one aspect of his scientific contributions) was published by the Yale Peabody Museum to celebrate his 80th birthday in 2005.  This chapter, which includes a full list of Seilacher’s publications at that time, can be downloaded here.


Divisional Staff

Susan Butts
Senior Collections Manager

Jessica Utrup
Museum Assistant,



Derek Briggs

Curatorial Affiliates

Samuel J. Ciurca, Jr.
Stephen T. Hasiotis, University of Kansas
Neil H. Landman, American Museum of Natural History
Bruce S. Lieberman, University of Kansas
Ellen Thomas, Wesleyan University

Richard A. Krause Jr., University of Mainz


Mailing Address

Division of Invertebrate Paleontology
Peabody Museum of Natural History
Yale University
P.O. Box 208118
New Haven, CT 06520-8118 USA

Shipping Address

Division of Invertebrate Paleontology
Peabody Museum of Natural History
Yale University
170–210 Whitney Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511 USA