Dr Uwe Balthasar

Dr Uwe Balthasar

Lecturer in Palaeontology

School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences (Faculty of Science and Engineering)


since 2019: Admissions Tutor for Earth Sciences Degree Programs

since 2014: Lecturer in Palaeontology

07/11 – 08/14  University of Glasgow       Postdoctoral Research Associate

07/09 – 06/11   University of Glasgow       Volkswagen Research Fellow

01/07 – 06/09  University of Uppsala        VR-Research Fellow

04/06 – 12/06   University of Cambridge     Postdoctoral Research Associate


2014    Postgraduate Certificate of Academic Practice; University of Glasgow

2006   Ph.D., University of Cambridge, Department of Earth Sciences 

2001   Diploma in Geology, Philipps Universität Marburg (equivalent of a MSc in Geology)

Roles on external bodies

since 2017: Trustee and full council member of the Palaeontological Association

Teaching interests

I teach palaeontology and geological field skills across all Earth Science degree programmes. 

Module Leader for:

GEOL 1004 (Palaeontology and Stratigraphy)

GEOL 3001 (Geological Mapping Research Project and Professional Skills)

GEOL 3002 (Independent Research Project and Professional Skills)

Contributing to:

GEOL 1005 (Geological Maps and Structural Geology)

GEOL 2001 (Sedimentology and Palaeontology)

GEOL 2006 (Geological Fieldwork)

Research interests

Phanerozoic evolution of aragonite and calcite biomineralisation in the context of ocean chemistry
The dominance of aragonite and calcite has fluctuated throughout the Phanerozoic in inorganic precipitates such as ooids or cements. I am interested in understanding how these changes impacted on the evolution of calcifying organisms. To do this I combine inorganic CaCO3 precipitation experiments designed to better interpret the distribution of non-biogenic aragonite and calcite in the rock record with the careful examination of calcareous fossils of uncertain original mineralogy. Ultimately, this work aims at providing an environmental context in which the evolution of biogenic calcification can be assesed in time and space.

Origins of brachiopods and their evolution of biomineralisation
Brachiopods are one of the first animal phyla to appear in the course of the Cambrian explosion and among the most versatile groups with respect to biomineralisation including groups that evolved the ability to secrete apatite, aragonite, calcite, opaline silica, and possibly even the ability to agglutinate sand grains. All of these different biomineralisation strategies of brachiopods evolved during the Cambrian - Ordovician, whereas no further innovation occured in this respect thoughout the rest of the Phanerozoic. What was driving this burst of innovation in biomineralisation?

Key publications are highlighted

Balthasar U, Jin J, Hints L & Cusack M 2019 'Brachiopod Shell Thickness links Environment and Evolution' Palaeontology , DOI PEARL
Eichenseer K, Balthasar K, Smart C, Stander J, Haaga KA & Kiessling W 2019 'Jurassic shift from abiotic to biotic control on marine ecological success' Nature Geoscience Publisher Site , DOI PEARL
Sperling EA, Balthasar KU & Skovsted CB 2018 'On the edge of exceptional preservation: insights into the role of redox state in Burgess Shale-type taphonomic windows from the Mural Formation, Alberta, Canada' Emerging Topics in Life Sciences , DOI PEARL
Skovsted CB, Knight I, Balthasar KU & Boyce WD 2017 'Depth related brachiopod faunas from the lower Cambrian Forteau Formation of southern Labrador and western Newfoundland, Canada' Palaeontologia electronica (Online) , DOI PEARL
Balthasar U & Cusack M 2015 'Aragonite-calcite seas—Quantifying the gray area' Geology 43, (2) 99-102 , DOI
Zhang Z-F, Li G-X, Holmer LE, Brock GA, Balthasar U, Skovsted CB, Fu D-J, Zhang X-L, Wang H-Z & Butler A 2014 'Erratum: An early Cambrian agglutinated tubular lophophorate with brachiopod characters' Scientific Reports 4, (1) , DOI
Zhang Z-F, Li G-X, Holmer LE, Brock GA, Balthasar U, Skovsted CB, Fu D-J, Zhang X-L, Wang H-Z & Butler A 2014 'An early Cambrian agglutinated tubular lophophorate with brachiopod characters' Sci Rep 4, Author Site , DOI PEARL
Larsson CM, Skovsted CB, Brock GA, Balthasar U, Topper TP & Holmer LE 2014 'Paterimitra pyramidalisfrom South Australia: scleritome, shell structure and evolution of a lower Cambrian stem group brachiopod' Palaeontology 57, (2) 417-446 , DOI
Topper TP, Holmer LE, Skovsted CB, Brock GA, Balthasar U, Larsson CM, Stolk SP & Harper DAT 2013 'The oldest brachiopods from the lower Cambrian of South Australia' ACTA PALAEONTOLOGICA POLONICA 58, (1) 93-109 Author Site , DOI
Balthasar U, Cusack M, Faryma L, Chung P, Holmer LE, Jin J, Percival IG & Popov LE 2011 'Relic aragonite from Ordovician–Silurian brachiopods: Implications for the evolution of calcification' Geology 39, (10) 967-970 , DOI
Balthasar U, Skovsted CB, Holmer LE & Brock GA 2009 'Homologous skeletal secretion in tommotiids and brachiopods' GEOLOGY 37, (12) 1143-1146 Author Site , DOI
Balthasar U 2009 'The brachiopod Eoobolus from the Early Cambrian Mural Formation (Canadian Rocky Mountains)' PALAEONTOLOGISCHE ZEITSCHRIFT 83, (3) 407-418 Author Site , DOI
Skovsted CB, Balthasar U, Brock GA & Paterson JR 2009 'The TommotiidCamenella reticulosafrom the Early Cambrian of South Australia: Morphology, Scleritome Reconstruction, and Phylogeny' Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54, (3) 525-540 , DOI
Balthasar U & Butterfield NJ 2009 'Early Cambrian “Soft-Shelled” Brachiopods as Possible Stem-Group Phoronids' Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 54, (2) 307-314 , DOI
Skovsted CB, Holmer LE, Larsson CM, Högström AES, Brock GA, Topper TP, Balthasar U, Stolk SP & Paterson JR 2009 'The scleritome of Paterimitra : an Early Cambrian stem group brachiopod from South Australia' Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 276, (1662) 1651-1656 , DOI
Grazhdankin DV, Balthasar U, Nagovitsin KE & Kochnev BB 2008 'Carbonate-hosted Avalon-type fossils in arctic Siberia' GEOLOGY 36, (10) 803-806 Author Site , DOI
Balthasar U 2007 'An early cambrian organophosphatic brachiopod with calcitic granules' PALAEONTOLOGY 50, 1319-1325 Author Site , DOI
Butterfield NJ, Balthasar U & Wilson LA 2007 'Fossil diagenesis in the burgess shale' PALAEONTOLOGY 50, 537-543 Author Site , DOI
Balthasar U & Maidment S 2006 'Pseudoscience should not be published in Nature' Nature 444, (7120) 679-680 Author Site , DOI
Balthasar U 2004 'Shell structure, ontogeny and affinities of the Lower Cambrian bivalved problematic fossil Mickwitzia muralensis Walcott, 1913' LETHAIA 37, (4) 381-400 Author Site , DOI
Balthasar U & Amler MRW 2003 'Silicified foraminifera from the Lower Carboniferous Genicera Formation (Cantabrian Mountains, Northern Spain) and their palaeoenvironmental interpretation' CFS Courier Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg (242) 1-19