We study marine diversity through time.

Our research aims to better understand  the  extinction mechanisms of marine life, especially sharks, and to assess the impacts of species loss on functional diversity. Our ultimate goal is to use this information to provide insights into conservation. To reach our research objectives, we integrate large sets of paleontological and neontological data and  apply methods in ecology, evolution, phylogenetics and biogeography.




A perspective on a new research

An exciting, new study by Sibert and Rubin in Science based on deep sea core sediments suggests that today's low diversity of oceanic sharks might be the result of a dramatic and mysterious extinction event, ~19Ma.

Pimiento and Pyenson wrote a perspective on this finding, pointing out that such dramatic biodiversity loss feels like a déjà vu given that today, overfishing is causing an extinction of similar proportions (but at at a much faster rate) not only in the the open ocean, but also in shallow waters. 



We are a global research group

Our team members are based at the Paleontology Institute and Museum in the University of Zurich (Switzerland), at the Biosciences Department in Swansea University (United Kingdom) and at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (Panama).

Dr Catalina Pimiento
Group leader
Zurich and Swansea
Sharks' extinctions, evolution, ecology and conservation
Jaime Villafaña
Project coordinator
Fossil sharks, paleobiology, paleobiogeography
Jack Cooper
PhD student
Fossil sharks, especially Megalodon
Arianna Chiti
Masters student
Marine megafauna
Kristína Kocáková
PhD student
Marine life

Current Projects

SHARK EXTINCTIONS | from the past to the future


Linking past extinctions and the conservation of modern species using the abundant shark fossil record.

FATE AND FUNCTION OF MARINE MEGAFAUNA | from the Pliocene to the Anthropocene


Understanding marine megafauna functional diversity from the Pliocene to the present.


Pimiento C, Bacon CD, Silvestro D, Hendy A, Jaramillo C, Zizka A, Meyer X, Antonelli A. 2020 Selective extinction against redundant species buffers functional diversity. Proceedings of the Royal Society B 287: 20201162. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2020.1162.

Villafaña JA, Hernandez S, Alvarado A, Shimada K, Pimiento C, Rivadeneira MM, Kriwet J. (2020). First evidence of a palaeo-nursery area of the great white shark. Scientific Reports 10, 8502 https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-65101-1.

Pimiento C, Leprieur F, Silvestro D, Lefcheck J, Albouy C, Rasher DB, Davis M, Svenning JC, Griffin JN. (2020) Functional diversity and the fate of marine megafauna in the Anthropocene. Science Advances 6, eaay7650 doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aay7650

Pimiento C, Benton M. (2020) The impact of the Pull of the Recent in extant elasmobranchs. Palaeontology 2020, pp. 1–6 DOI: 10.1111/pala.12478

Cooper, J.A., Pimiento, C., Ferrón, H.G., Benton M. (2020) Body dimensions of the extinct giant shark Otodus megalodon: a 2D reconstruction. Scientific Reports 10, 14596. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-71387-y (Student-led paper).

Paillard, A.,  Shimada, K.,  Pimiento, C.  (2020) The fossil record of extant elasmobranchs. Journal of Fish Biology 1– 11. https://doi.org/10.1111/jfb.14588 (Student-led paper).

Our values

We are passionate about our work.

We are committed to high quality science.

We promote diversity in our team.

We are open with our data, manuscripts and ideas.

We are conscious about our impact on the planet and try to reduce or carbon footprint