Dr. Eli Amson


Fossil mammals


0711 / 8936 - 141
0711 / 8936 - 100

Research interests

I dedicate my research to the understanding of evolutionary patterns and processes related to the adaptations of the skeleton. Most of my analyses focus on mammals, linking locomotion and life history to their bone histology and microanatomy. I have a particular interest in those clades that ‘returned’ to the aquatic environment (e.g., sea cows, desmostylians, thalassocninesloths).

Researchgate   Google Scholar



40. Amson, E. 2021. Humeral diaphysis structure across mammals. Evolution 75(3): 748-755.

39. Alfieri, F., Nyakatura, J., and Amson, E. (2020). Evolution of bone cortical compactness in slow arboreal mammals. Evolution. 75(2): 542-554.

38. Ebel, R., J. Müller, T. Ramm, C. Hipsley, and Amson, E. (2020). First evidence of convergent lifestyle signal in reptile skull roof microanatomy. BMC Biology 18:185.

Previous years

37.           Amson, E. (2019) Overall bone structure as assessed by slice-by-slice profile. Evolutionary Biology 46(4): 343-348.

36.           Amson, E., Kilbourne, B. (2019) Trabecular bone architecture in the stylopod epiphyses of mustelids (Mammalia, Carnivora). Royal SocietyOpen Science 6(10): 190938.

35.           Plasse, M., Amson, E., Bardin, J., Grimal, Q., Germain, D. (2019) Trabecular architecture in the humeral metaphyses of non-avian reptiles (Crocodylia, Squamata and Testudines): lifestyle, allometry and phylogeny. Journal of Morphology 280(7): 982-998.

34.           Wölfer, J., Amson, E., Arnold, P., Botton-Divet, L., Fabre, A.-C., H. van Heteren, A., Nyakatura, J.A. (2019) Femoral morphology of sciuromorph rodents in light of scaling and locomotor ecology. Journal of Anatomy 234: 731-747.

33.           Veitschegger, K., Kolb, C., Amson, E., Scheyer, T.M., Sánchez-Villagra, M.R. (2018) Palaeohistology and life history evolution in cave bears, Ursus spelaeus sensu lato. PLoS ONE 13: e0206791.

32.           Amson, E. & Nyakatura, J.A., (2018) Palaeobiological inferences based on long bone epiphyseal and diaphyseal structure - the forelimb of xenarthrans (Mammalia). DOI: 10.1101/318121. Recommended by Peer Community in Paleontology, 100001.

31.           Montañez-Rivera, I., Nyakatura, J.A., Amson, E. (2018) Bone cortical compactness in "tree sloths" reflects convergent evolution. Journal of Anatomy, 233: 580-591.

30.           Böhmer, C., Amson, E., Arnold, P., van Heteren, A.H., Nyakatura, J.A. (2018) Homeotic transformations reflect departure from the mammalian 'rule of seven' cervical vertebrae in sloths: Inferences on the Hox code and morphological modularity of the mammalian neck. BMC Evolutionary Biology 18: 84.

29.           Mielke, F., Amson, E., Nyakatura, J.A. (2018) Morpho-functional analysis using procrustes superimposition by static reference. Evolutionary biology, 45: 449–461.

28.           Amson, E., Billet, G., Muizon, C. de (2018) Evolutionary adaptation to aquatic lifestyle in extinct sloths can lead to systemic alteration of bone structure. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 285: 20180270.

27.           Amson, E., Billet, G., Muizon, C. de (2018) 3D models related to the publication: Evolutionary Adaptation to Aquatic Lifestyle in Extinct Sloths Can Lead to Systemic Alteration of Bone Structure. MorphoMuseuM, 285: e64.

26.           Veitschegger, K., Kolb, C., Amson, E., Sánchez-Villagra, M.R. (2019) Longevity and life history of cave bears – a review and novel data from tooth cementum and relative emergence of permanent dentition. Historical Biology, 31(4): 510–516.

25.           Carrillo, J.D., Amson E., Jaramillo C., Sánchez, R., Quiroz, L., Cuartas C., Rincón, A.F., Sánchez-Villagra, M.R. (2018) The Neogene record of northern South American native ungulates. Smithsonian Contributions to Paleobiology, 101:1-67.

24.           Mielke, M., Wölfer, J., Arnold, P., Van Heteren, A.H., Amson, E., & Nyakatura, J.A. (2018) Trabecular Architecture in the Sciuromorph Femoral Head: Allometry and Functional Adaptation. Zoological Letters, 4:10.

23.           Amson, E., & Nyakatura, J.A. (2018). The postcranial musculoskeletal system of xenarthrans: Insights from over two centuries of research and future directions. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 25: 459-484 .

22.           Amson, E., Arnold, P., Van Heteren, A.H., Canoville, A., Nyakatura, J.A. (2017) Trabecular architecture in the forelimb epiphyses of extant xenarthrans (Mammalia). Frontiers in Zoology, 14: 52.

21.           De los Arcos, S., Partarrieu, D., Carrillo-Briceño, J. D., & Amson, E. (2017). The southernmost occurrence of the aquatic sloth Thalassocnus (Mammalia, Tardigrada) from two new Pliocene localities in Chile. Ameghiniana, 54: 351-369.

20.           Arnold, P., Amson, E., & Fischer, M.S. (2017) Differential scaling patterns of vertebrae and the evolution of neck length in mammals. Evolution, 71: 1587-1599.

19            Dewaele, L., Amson, E., Louwye, S., & Lambert, O. (2017) Reappraisal of the extinct seal “Phocavitulinoides from the Neogene of the North Sea Basin, with bearing on its geological age, phylogenetic affinities, and locomotion. PeerJ, 5: e3316.

18.           Coutier, F., Hautier, L., Cornette, R., Amson, E., & Billet, G. (2017). Orientation of the lateral semicircular canal in Xenarthra and its links with head posture and phylogeny. Journal of Morphology, 278: 704–717.

17.           Aguirre-Fernández, G., Carrillo-Briceño, J. D., Sánchez, R., Amson, E., & Sánchez-Villagra., M. R. (2017) Fossil cetaceans (Mammalia, Cetacea) from the Neogene of Colombia and Venezuela. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 24: 71–90.

16.           Amson, E., Muizon, C. de, & Gaudin, T. J. (2017) A reappraisal of the phylogeny of the Megatheria (Mammalia: Tardigrada), with an emphasis on the relationships of the Thalassocninae, the marine sloths. Zoological journal of the Linnean Society, 179(1): 217–236.

15.           Carrillo-Briceño, J. D., Amson, E., Zurita A., & Sánchez-Villagra, M. R. (2016) Hermann Karsten (1817-1908): A German naturalist in the Neotropics and the significance of his paleovertebrate collection. Fossil Record, 20: 21–36.

14.           Forasiepi, A. M., Macphee, R. D. E., Hernández del Pino, S., Schmidt, G. I., Amson, E., Grohé, C. (2016) Exceptional skull of Huayqueriana (Mammalia, Litopterna, Macraucheniidae) from the Late Miocene of Argentina: anatomy, systematics, and paleobiological implications. Bulletin of the AMNH, 404: 1–76.

13.           Amson, E., Kolb, C. (2016) Scaling effect on the mid-diaphysis properties of long bones - the case of the Cervidae (deer). The Science of Nature (Naturwissenschaften), 103: 58.

12.           Amson, E., Carrillo, J. D., Jaramillo, C. (2016) Neogene sloth assemblages (Mammalia, Pilosa) of the Cocinetas Basin (La Guajira, Colombia): implications for the Great American Biotic Interchange. Palaeontology, 59: 563–582.

11.           Amson, E., Carrillo, J. D., Jaramillo, C. (2016) 3D models related to the publication: Neogene sloth assemblages (Mammalia, Pilosa) of the Cocinetas Basin (La Guajira, Colombia): implications for the Great American Biotic Interchange. MorphoMuseuM, 2: e3

10.           Amson, E., Kolb, C., Scheyer T. M., Sánchez‐Villagra, M. R. (2015) Growth and life history of Middle Miocene deer (Mammalia, Cervidae) based on bone histology. Comptes rendus Palevol, 14: 637–645.

9.              Amson, E., Muizon, C. de, Domning, D. P., Argot, C., & Buffrénil, V. de (2015) Bone histology as a clue for resolving the puzzle of a dugong rib in the Pisco Formation, Peru. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 35: e922981.

8.              Kolb, C., Scheyer, T.M., Veitschegger, K., Forasiepi, A.M., Amson, E., Van der Geer, A.A.E., Hayashi, S., van den Hoek Ostende, L.W., Sánchez-Villagra, M.R. (2015) Mammalian bone palaeohistology: a survey and new data with emphasis on island forms. PeerJ, 3: e1358.

7.              Solé F., Amson E., Borths M., Vidalenc D., Morlo M., &. Bastl K. A. (2015) A new large hyainailourine from the Bartonian of Europe and its bearings on the evolution and ecology of massive hyaenodonts (Mammalia). PLoS ONE 10: e0135698.

6.              Amson, E., Argot, C., McDonald H. G., & Muizon, C. de (2015) Osteology and functional morphology of the axial postcranium of the marine sloth Thalassocnus (Mammalia, Tardigrada) with paleobiological implications. Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 22: 473–518.

5.              Amson, E., Argot, C., McDonald H. G., & Muizon, C. de (2015) Osteology and functional morphology of the hind limb of the marine sloth Thalassocnus (Mammalia, Tardigrada). Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 22: 355–419.

4.              Amson, E., Argot, C., McDonald H. G., & Muizon, C. de (2015) Osteology and functional morphology of the forelimb of the marine sloth Thalassocnus (Mammalia, Tardigrada). Journal of Mammalian Evolution, 22: 169–242.

3.              Amson, E., Muizon, C. de, Laurin, M., Argot, C., & Buffrénil, V. de (2014) Gradual adaptation of bone structure to aquatic lifestyle in extinct sloths from Peru. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281: 20140192.

2.              Amson, E. & Muizon, C. de (2014) A new durophagous phocid (Mammalia: Carnivora) from the late Neogene of Peru and considerations on monachine seals phylogeny. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 12: 523–548.

1.              Amson, E. & Laurin, M. (2011) On the affinities of Tetraceratops insignis, an Early Permian synapsid. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 56: 301–312.

Published computer code

2.         Image analysis tool for ImageJ: github.com/eliamson/sliceByslice

1.         Tsagris M., Athineou G, Sajib, A., Amson, E., Waldstein M. J. (2021) Directional: directional statistics. R Package version 4.8.


Since 2021

Curator, fossil mammal collections (Tertiary and Quaternary), Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart


Own research position, postdoctoral fellow (German Research Foundation, DFG), Johannes MÜLLER and Faysal BIBI's groups, Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin


Postdoctoral fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt foundation, John NYAKATURA’s group, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Germany


Postdoctoral contract,Marcelo SÁNCHEZ-VILLAGRA’s group, Universität Zürich, Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Switzerland


Doctorate in Palaeontology,supervised by Christian DE MUIZON, co-supervised by Christine ARGOT, Centre de Recherches sur la Paléobiodiversité et les Paléoenvironnements (CR2P), Muséum national d’Histoire naturelle (MNHN), Université Pierre et Marie Curie (UPMC), CNRS, Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France