Paleobiology of the Deep-Sea in Okinawa

Hydrothermal vents and methane seeps in the deep sea are inhabited by highly specialized faunal communities that rely mostly on chemoautotrophic bacteria for nutrition. This spawned the hypothesis that their evolutionary history is independent from that of photosynthesis-based food chains and unaffected by the global mass extinction events. The fossil record provides insights into origin and evolution of these faunas and indicates that the main evolutionary patterns are driven by changes in ocean chemistry. 

Dr. Steffen Kiel is senior scientist and curator at the Paleobiology Department of the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm. He received is PhD in paleontology from the University of Hamburg in Germany, and continued his research at various institutions in the USA, England, Austria, and Germany. His main interests are the drivers of evolution on geologic timescales, biogeography, and the deep ocean.

As well as collecting fauna typicical of the deep-sea, Steffen was able to find fossilised cold seep fauna right here in Okinawa.

Cold-seep Vesicomyid clam fossils

Steffen visited OIST campus to give a seminar on the history of the deep-sea to the wider OIST research community. We hope to see more of Steffen in the future and are keen to explore our overlapping interests in vent and seep biogeography.