Dr. Hector Botella (Team Leader)

My PhD was centered on the systematic and biostratigraphic study of Devonian vertebrates from the Iberain Range. During my PhD I had the chance to visit several institutions, such us the Institut für Paläontologie Museum für Naturkunde of Berlin and the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle of Paris under the supervision of Dr. Hans-Peter Schultze and Dr. Phillipe Janvier respectively. Afterwards, during my post-doctoral studies, I specialized in biomechanics and hydrodynamics techniques at the Geology Department of the Instituto de Mecánica de los Fluidos e Ingeniería Ambiental of the University of the Republic (Uruguay). I applied these techniques to the study of early vertebrates and it is one of the research lines that I’m interested in developing.
Currently, I’m a Professor at the University of Valencia and my research is focused on the palaleobiology and evolution of early vertebrates; with special interest in the origin and evolution of the dentition in vertebrates and the evolution of chondrichthyans (sharks and rays) in particular. Another field I’m interested in is modularity and complexity in the evolution of the vertebrate skeleton.

Email: Hector.Botella at

    Dr. Carlos Martinez-Perez

    After my PhD on the systematics of Devonian conodonts from the Pyrenees (north Spain), I focused my research on more paleobiological aspects of conodonts, trying to shed light on the function and biological affinities of this group of putative primitive vertebrates. During my Marie Curie Postdoc (2011-2014) at the University of Bristol under the supervision of Prof. Philip Donoghue, I was trained in numerous computational techniques for tomographic and functional analysis. The development of my postdoc allowed me to combine the applications of these pioneering techniques such as synchrotron tomography, Finite Element Analysis (FEA), digital occlusal analysis (OFA), and Computed Fluid Dynamics (CFD) to the study of the conodont skeleton. In new position as Associate Professor at the University of Valencia, I want to apply all these techniques to the study of our own evolutionary linage in order to answer important questions about the functional and morphological evolution of the vertebrate skeleton.

    Email: Carlos.Martinez-Perez at

      Mr. Humberto Ferron

      Since childhood I have always showed a deep interest on the natural world and fossils in particular. In 2012 I graduated in Biology from the University of Valencia, and after my Master studies at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (2013), I started my PhD at University of Valencia on the palaeoecology of early vertebrates. Under the supervision of Dr. Héctor Botella Sevilla and Dr. Carlos Martínez Pérez, my thesis objectives are focussed on (1) the study of the relationship between the squamation pattern and the ecology of living sharks with the goal of making lifestyle inferences in early vertebrates with similar squamation (i.e., thelodonts, acanthodians and chondrichthyans), (2) the study of swimming strategies and hydrodynamics of extinct agnathan fishes by means of Computed Fluid Dynamics, and (3) the application of geometric morphometrics to establish ecomorphological relationships in living taxa in order to make palaeoecological inferences in extinct early vertebrates.

      Email: Humberto.Ferron at

        Mrs. Esther Manzanares

        I graduated in Biology at the University of Valencia and started to collaborate with the research group of Dr. Héctor Botella during my Master’s degree. Currently, I’m doing my PhD focusing on the microstructure and development of enameloid in sharks under the supervision of Dr. Héctor Botella and Dr. Carlos Martínez Pérez. For this purpose, my PhD goals can be summarized as: (1) characterization of the histological variability in hypermineralized tissues that are part of the dermoskeleton in early vertebrates, (2) chemical characterization of those tissues, and (3) analysis of the variability of mineralization in the exoskeleton and its regulatory systems in living representatives of the vertebrate group, mainly chondrichthyans.

        Email: Eshter.Manzanares at

          Mr. Jose Luis Herraiz

          Ever since I was a kid, I felt a deep fascination about biology, the different life forms that inhabited our planet, and how they evolved and lived in past ages, but especially the evolution of marine lifeforms, such as sharks, often misinterpreted in social media. After graduating in Biology at University of Valencia in 2016, I followed my studies with a Masters degree of Applied Paleontology at the Universities of Valencia and Alacant. My PhD under the supervision of Dr. Carlos Martínez-Perez and Dr. Héctor Botella is focused on elaborating a comprehensive study of the evolutionary history of the elasmobranch faunas of the Mediterranean Basin, the variation in their composition since the Miocene to recent times, as well as disentangling the palaeoecological factors that shaped the evolution of these faunas.

          Email: hecajo at


            Mr. Fernando A. M. Arnal


            I graduated in BSc Biology at the Autonomous University of Madrid and got an MSc degree in Applied Paleontology at the University of Valencia. My master’s degree final project was an analysis of the connectivity patterns, structural complexity and modularity of the skull roof of Placodermi. Currently, I am a PhD student at the Early Vertebrate Evolution Research-Lab Valencia under the supervision of Dr. Héctor Botella Sevilla and Dr. Carlos Martínez Pérez. My research interests lie in the macroevolutionary mechanisms and constraints that shaped specific anatomical structures, like the skull. I am interested in exploring the application of modern anatomical and morphological analysis tools, such as anatomical networks analysis (AnNA), geometric morphometrics, computed tomography, fluid dynamics simulation and finite elements analysis (FEA), to the study of the evolution of early vertebrates throughout the different lineages.

            Email: fermarar at

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