Home > The Society > SVP & Paleo News > Obituaries > Volker Fahlbusch, noted vertebrate paleontologist, and long-time SVP member passed away on October 3


Volker Fahlbusch, noted vertebrate paleontologist, and long-time SVP member passed away on October 30 at the age of 74


CV Volker Fahlbusch

Born on February 22nd 1934 in Celle (Germany); third of four children

1955 Achieved the “abitur” graduate exam, with subsequent practical training at Mobil Oil petroleum company and start of studies in Geology at the University of Göttingen (Germany)

1957 Successful completion of the Vordiplom, an intermediate graduate degree, with transfer to the University of Munich

1960 Master Diploma; geological-paleontological thesis on alpine Mesozoic rocks and fossils

1961 -1964 PhD student

1964 PhD graduation; title of PhD thesis "Die Cricetiden (Mamm.) der Oberen Süßwasser-Molasse Bayerns", regarded today by specialists as a fundamental, groundbreaking study in small mammal paleontology

1964 – 1970 Assistant professor at the Institut für Paläontologie und Geologie of the University in Munich

1965 Half year sabbatical research visit at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

1968 Research Associate Carnegie Museum

1969 Habilitation, "venia legendi" for Paleontology and Historical Geology; Lecturer with title of the “Habilitationsschrift” thesis: ”Populationsverschiebungen bei tertiären Nagetieren, eine Studie an oligozänen und miozänen Eomyidae Europas”;

1970 Universitätsdozenten level of professorship at the University of Munich

1975 Außerplanmäßigen Professor, effectively Associate Professor, at the University of Munich

1978 Full Professor at the University in Munich


It is our sad duty to inform the vertebrate paleontology community, that Prof. Volker Fahlbusch passed away on October 30th at the age of 74.

 His death is a serious loss of a highly respected teacher, colleague and friend, not only for Paleontology in Munich (Faculty of Geosciences of the University and Bavarian State Collection for Paleontology and Geology), but also of the global scientific community of paleontologists.

Over 40 years Volker Fahlbusch represented vertebrate paleontology at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and promoted science and training of students. As a specialist of rodents he contributed fundamentally to the stratigraphy of terrestrial European Cenozoic deposits and fossils, especially through establishment of the biochronological MN-units of the Miocene. His studies on the lineages of Oligocene and Miocene rodents were also key components of international projects on the Oligocene of China and the Miocene of USA.

He also was the driving force behind the extremely fruitful field campaign with the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Beijing, that reopened the paleontology of the famous Mio-Pliocene localities of Ertemte and Harr Obo, Inner Mongolia.

His investigations are still fundamental to this field.

One of his great passions throughout several decades was the vertebrate fossil site Sandelzhausen (Southern Germany, Miocene) where he and his team excavated for about 20 field seasons and recovered several tens of thousands of specimens representing about 200 different taxa.

In 1974 he founded the thriving „Arbeitskreis Wirbeltierpaläontologie der Paläontologischen Gesellschaft“, by which the entire vertebrate paleontology community in the German language area is united and inspired to intensively collaborate. His extremely high commitment for teaching is reflected by the supervision of 40 master and PhD theses. As a referee for the German Science Foundation he wrote over 500 reviews in 20 years. More over, he played a part on many scientific committees and boards.

During the last year he was affected by an illness, which kept him away from his beloved science and normal life. Nevertheless his death came suddenly, but released him from suffering.

In our memory he will always remain a lively, inquisitive scientist and contributing individual.

Ursula Göhlich & Gertrud Rössner


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