Marie-Claire Koschowitz

Marie-Claire Koschowitz

Tel: +44 (0) 1865 72070


I graduated from the University of Göttingen in 2012 with a B.Sc. in Biodiversity and Ecology. My thesis focused on evolutionary drivers and selective pressures that could have influenced feather evolution in dinosaurs. Following that I pursued my graduate studies at the University of Bonn in Organismic Biology, Evolutionary Biology and Paleobiology. My master’s project was lab based, as I investigated the preservation of original-tissue and molecules of organic origin in the fossil report. I started my DPhil in October 2015 as a NERC funded student in the Environmental Research DTP.


Research Activities

During my undergraduate studies I was interested in the dinosaur-bird transition and why anatomically modern feathers evolved in maniraptoran dinosaurs, long before active flight or gliding, from a filamentous skin cover resembling mammalian fur (colloquially known as dino-fuzz). To that end my thesis focused on the vibrant and unique colours displayed by birds. I also explored the physiology and significance of colour perception across extant reptiles, to reconstruct the putative sensory framework in which dinosaur vision operated. This work is summarised in the hypothesis, that anatomically modern feathers evolved in dinosaurs to avoid drab colouration associated with a filamentous body cover, due to the importance of colour display as a major channel of communication.

My current work is centred around the evolution of different reproductive strategies across reptiles, in specific shifts on the oviparity-viviparity spectrum, as well as potential constraints on the evolution of viviparity in birds. This includes the construction of a comparative phylogenetic framework to map trait evolution, combining fossil and extant data. Furthermore I am investigating environmental drivers, favouring viviparity over oviparity in different model populations, and look at the evolutionary consequences associated with shifts in reproductive mode. For example male-to-female sex ratios and mating behaviour. This project is carried out under supervision of Prof. Tim Coulson, Associate Prof. Roger Benson and Prof. Tom Pizzari.


Koschowitz M., Fischer C., Sander P. M. (2014) Beyond the rainbow. Science, 346:416-418

Koschowitz M., Lambertz M., Fischer C., Sander P. M. (2014) On the origin of feathers. Science, 346:1466-1467