Dr. Erin Maxwell

Profilbild Erin Maxwell


Fossil aquatic vertebrates


+49 (0) 711 / 8936-145
+49 (0) 711 / 8936-100

Research interests

My research interests focus on addressing the following questions: Is there a relationship between intraspecific variation and directionality of morphological evolution over geological time? What can we learn from studying fossil ontogenies? How do abiotic factors influence the two previous questions – especially the amount and type of meristic (count) variation observed? I am currently studying these sources of variation in marine vertebrates from the Early Jurassic of southwestern Germany.


Publications (last 5 years)

2024 / In Press

  • Höltke, O., Maxwell, E.E., Bracher, H., & Rasser, M.W. In Press. The shark and ray teeth of the Lower Miocene (Upper Marine Molasse) from Ballendorf, Baden-Württemberg, Southern Germany. Palaeobiodiversity and Palaeoenvironments, doi.org/10.1007/s12549-023-00582-2
  • Bennion, R,F., Maxwell, E.E., Lambert, O., & Fischer, V. 2024. Craniodental ecomorphology of the large Jurassic ichthyosaurian Temnodontosaurus. Journal of Anatomy, 244(1):22-41.


  • Cooper, S.L.A., & Maxwell, E.E. 2023. Death by ammonite: fatal ingestion of an ammonoid shell by an Early Jurassic bony fish. Geological Magazine, 160(7):1254-1261.
  • Johnson, M.M., Amson, E., Maxwell, E.E. 2023. Evaluating growth in Macrospondylus bollensis (Crocodylomorpha: Teleosauroidea) in the Toarcian Posidonia Shale, Germany. Papers in Palaeontology, 9(5):e1529.
  • Miedema, F., Dal Sasso, C., Scheyer, T.M., & Maxwell, E.E. 2023. Ontogenetic variation in the cranium of Mixosaurus cornalianus, with implications for the evolution of ichthyosaurian cranial development. Swiss Journal of Palaeontology, 142:27.
  • Miedema, F., Klein, N., Blackburn, D.G., Sander, P.M., Maxwell, E.E., Griebeler, E.M. & Scheyer, T.M. 2023. Heads or tails first? Evolution of fetal orientation in ichthyosaurs, with a scrutiny of the prevailing hypothesis. BMC Ecology and Evolution, 23:12.
  • Muscente, D., Vinnes, O., Sinha, S., Schiffbauer, J., Maxwell, E.E., Schweigert, G. & Martindale, R.C. 2023. What role does anoxia play in exceptional fossil preservation? Lessons from the taphonomy of the Posidonia Shale (Germany). 238(104323):1-35.
  • Serafini, G., Amalfitano, J., Danise, S., Maxwell, E.E., Rondelli, R., & Papazzoni, C.A. 2023. Not entirely ichthyosaur: a mysterious lamniform and ichthyopterygian-fall association from the abyssal Upper Cretaceous of the Northern Apennines (Italy). Palaios, 38(8):331-344.
  • Serafini, G., Maxwell, E.E., Cobianchi, M., Borghi, L., Papazzoni, C.A., Roghi, G., & Giusberti, L. 2023. Dead, discovered, copied and forgotten: history and description of the first discovered ichthyosaur from the Upper Jurassic of Italy. Italian Journal of Geosciences, 142(1):131-148.



  • Cortés, D., Maxwell, E. E., & Larsson, H. C. 2021. Re-appearance of hypercarnivore ichthyosaurs in the Cretaceous with differentiated dentition: revision of ‘Platypterygius’ sachicarum (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria, Ophthalmosauridae) from Colombia. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology, 19(14):969-1002.
  • Fernández, M.S., Campos, L., Maxwell, E.E., & Garrido, A.C. 2021. Catutosaurus gaspariniae, gen. et sp. nov.(Ichthyosauria, Thunnosauria) of the Upper Jurassic of Patagonia and the evolution of the ophthalmosaurids. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 41(1):e1922427.
  • Martin, J.E., Suan, G., Suchéras-Marx, B., Rulleau, L., Schlögl, J., Janneau, K., Williams, M., Léna, A., Grosjean, A.-S., Sarroca, E., Perrier, V., Fernandez, V., Charruault, A.-L., Maxwell, E.E., & Vincent, P. 2021. Stenopterygiids from the lower Toarcian of Beaujolais and a chemostratigraphic context for ichthyosaur preservation during the Toarcian Oceanic Anoxic Event. Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 514(1):153-172.
  • Maxwell, E.E., Romano, C., & Wu, F.-X. 2021. Regional disparity in the axial skeleton of Saurichthyidae and implications for axial regionalization in non‐teleostean actinopterygians. Journal of Zoology, 315(1):29-41.


  • López-Arbarello, A., Maxwell, E.E., & Schweigert, G. 2020. New Halecomorph (Actinopterygii, Neopterygii) from the Nusplingen Lithographic Limestone (Upper Jurassic, Late Kimmeridgian), Germany. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 40(2):e1771348. 
  • Maxwell, E.E., & Cortés, D. 2020. A revision of the Early Jurassic ichthyosaur Hauffiopteryx (Reptilia: Ichthyosauria), and description of a new species from southwestern Germany. Paleontologia Electronica 23(2):a31.
  • Maxwell, E.E., Lambers, P. H., López-Arbarello, A., & Schweigert, G. 2020. Re-evaluation of pachycormid fishes from the Late Jurassic of Southwestern Germany. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 65(3):429-453.
  • Pardo-Pérez, J.M., Kear, B.P. & Maxwell, E.E. 2020. Skeletal pathologies track body plan evolution in ichthyosaurs. Scientific Reports 10:4206.
  • Serafini, G., Amalfitano, J., Cobianchi, M., Fornaciari, B., Maxwell, E.E., Papazzoni, C.A., Roghi, G. & Giusberti, L. 2020. Evidence of opportunistic feeding between ichthyosaurs and the oldest occurrence of the hexanchid shark Notidanodon from the Upper Jurassic of northern Italy. Rivista Italiana di Paleontologia e Stratigrafia 126(3):629-655.


  • Anderson, K.L., Druckenmiller, P.S., Erickson, G.M., and Maxwell, E.E. 2019. Skeletal microstructure of Stenopterygius quadriscissus (Reptilia, Ichthyosauria) from the Posidonienschiefer (Posidonia Shale, Lower Jurassic) of Germany. Palaeontology 62(3):433-449.
  • Cortés, D., Larsson, H.C.E., Maxwell, E.E., Parra Ruge, M.L., Patarroyo, P., Wilson, J.A. 2019. An Early Cretaceous teleosaurid (Crocodylomorpha: Thalattosuchia) from Colombia. Ameghiniana 56 (5):365-379.
  • Maxwell, E.E., Cortés, D., Patarroyo, P., and Parra Ruge, M.L. 2019. A new specimen of Platypterygius sachicarum (Reptilia, Ichthyosauria) from the Early Cretaceous of Colombia and its phylogenetic implications. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 39(1):e1577875.
  • Miedema, F. and Maxwell, E.E. 2019. Ontogeny of the braincase in Stenopterygius (Reptilia, Ichthyosauria) from the Lower Jurassic of Germany. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 39: e1675164.
  • Pardo-Pérez, J.M., Kear, B., and Maxwell, E.E. 2019. Palaeoepidemiology in extinct vertebrate populations: factors influencing skeletal health in Jurassic marine reptiles. Royal Society Open Science 6:190264.



The SMNS has one of the largest collections worldwide of fossils from the Posidonia Shale of Holzmaden. However, the depositional conditions resulting in the preservation of these spectacular finds also lead to an abundance of iron sulfide minerals deposited in and around the fossil. When exposed to the atmosphere following excavation, chemical changes begin that can damage and even eventually destroy the fossil. This exhibition focused on both the mineralogy and formation of iron sulfide minerals such as pyrite and marcasite in sedimentary environments, and also the process of fossil conservation and restoration.


since 2014

  • Curator for fossil aquatic vertebrates, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart


  • Postdoctoral researcher, Evolutionary Morphology Group (Prof. Sánchez), Paläontologisches Institut und Museum, Universität Zürich, Schweiz


  •  Humboldt postdoctoral fellow, Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde, Stuttgart (Host: Rainer Schoch) und Museum für Naturkunde, Berlin (Host:Johannes Müller)


  • Killam Forschungstipendiatin, Dept. of Biology, University of Alberta (Arbeitsgruppe: Michael Caldwell)


  • PhD program, McGill University (Dissertation: Evolution of Avian Ossification Sequences)


  • BSc program, University of Alberta (Evolutionary Biology)