Personal data

Jakob Vinther

Departments of Earth and Biological Sciences

University of Bristol,

Woodland Road, Bristol BS8 1UG

Telephone: +44 (0) 117 928 8041

Telephone TBD

Email: jakob.vinther [at]

please use alternatively vinther.jakob [at]

Born: 24th November, 1981


2000-2003    Bachelors degree in exogenous geology, University of Copenhagen

2003-2006    Masters degree in palaeontology and zoology, University of Copenhagen

2006-2011    PhD in paleontology, molecular biology, Yale University

2011-2012    Post doc. Jackson school of Earth Sciences, UT Austin, Texas.

2012-             Lecturer in the departments of Biology and Earth Sciences, University of Bristol


27. Field, D. J. and D'Alba, L. and Vinther, J. and Webb, S. M. and Gearty, W. and Shawkey, M. D. 2013. Melanin Concentration Gradients in Modern and Fossil Feathers. PLoS ONE, 8, e59451.

26. Vitek, N. S and Vinther, J. and Schiffbauer, J. D. and Briggs, D. E. G. and Prum, R. O. 2013. Exceptional three-dimensional preservation and coloration of an originally iridescent fossil feather from the Middle Eocene Messel Oil Shale. Paläontologische Zeitschrift, 1-11.

25. Longrich, N. R., Vinther, J., Meng, Q-J., Li, Q-G and Russell, A. P. 2012. Primitive Wing Feather Arrangement in Archaeopteryx lithographica and Anchiornis huxleyi. Current Biology, 22, 2262 -2267.

24. Vinther, J., Jell, P., Kampouris, G., Carney, R., Racicot, R.A. and Briggs, D.E.G. 2012. Convergent evolutionary history in early chitons- the origin of multiplacophorans. Paleontology 55 1007-1019. DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4983.2012.01180.x

23. Glass, K., Ito, s., Wilby, P.R., Sota, T., Nakamura, A., Bowers, C. R., Vinther J., Dutta, S., Summons, R. E., Briggs, D. E. G., Wakamatsu, K. and Simon, J. D. 2012. Direct chemical evidence for eumelanin pigment from the Jurassic period. PNAS published online May 21, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1118448109. 

22. Mangano, M.G., Bromley, R.G. Harper, D.A.T., Nielsen, A.T., Smith, M.P & Vinther, J. 2012. Nonbiomineralized carapaces in Cambrian seafloor landscapes (Sirius Passet, Greenland): Opening a new window into early Phanerozoic benthic ecology. Geology 40, 519-522.

21. Li, Q-G., Gao, K-Q., Meng Q-J.,  Clarke, J. A., Shawkey M. D., D’Alba, L., Pei, R., Ellison M., Norell M. A., Vinther J. 2012. A new specimen of Microraptor and the evolution of iridescent plumage color. Science 335, 1215-1219.

20. Carney, R., Vinther, J. Shawkey, M. D., D'Alba, L., Ackermann, J. 2012. New evidence on the color and nature of the isolated Archaeopteryx feather. Nature Communication, published online January 24th.

19. Eibye Jacobsen, J. and Vinther, J. 2012. Reconstructing the ancestral annelid. Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 50, 1439-0469.

18. Vinther. J. Sperling, E. A., Peterson, K. J. and Briggs, D. E. G. 2011. A molecular paleobiological hypothesis fro the origin of aplacophoran molluscs and their derivation from chiton like ancestors. Proceedings of the Royal Society B. published online Oct. 5.

17. Vinther, J., Eibye-Jacobsen, D.E. and Harper, D.A.T.  2011. An Early Cambrian stem polychaete with pygidial cirri. Biology Letters. Early Online.

16. Kröger, B., Vinther. J. and Fuchs, D. 2011. Cephalopod origin and evolution: A congruent picture emerging from fossils, development and molecules. Bioessays 33 (8).

15. Vinther, J., Smith, M. P. and Harper, D. 2011. Vetulicolians from the Lower Cambrian Sirius Passet Lagerstätte, North Greenland, and the polarity of morphological characters in basal deuterostomes. Palaeontology 54. 711-719. doi:  10.1111/j.1475-4983.2011.01034.x

14. D’Alba, L., Saranathan, V. Clarke, J. A., Vinther, J., Prum, R. O. and Shawkey, M. D. In press. A novel nanofibre-based structural colour in blue penguin feathers. Biology Letters. February 9, 2011, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2010.1163

13. Clarke, J. A., Ksepka, D. K., Salas-Gismondi, R., Altamirano, A.J., Shawkey, M. D. D’Alba, L., Vinther, J., DeVries, T. J., Baby, P. 2010. The evolution of the shape and color of giant penguin feathers. Science (Published online, Sept. 30th, in press November 12).

12. Van Roy, P., Orr, P., Botting, J., Muir, L. Vinther, J., Lefevbre, B., Hariri, K. and Briggs, D. E. G. 2010. Ordovician faunas of Burgess Shale type, Nature 465, 215-218.

11. Li, Q-G., Gao, K-Q., Vinther, J., Shawkey, M.D., Clarke J.A., D`Alba L., Meng, Q., Briggs D.E.G., Prum, R.O. 2010. Plumage color patterns of an extinct non-avian dinosaur. Science 327, 1369-1372 (PDF).

10. Vinther, J. and Rudkin D. 2010. The first articulated specimen of Plumulites canadensis (Woodward, 1889) from the upper Ordovician of Ontario, with a review of the anterior region of Plumulitidae (Annelida: Machaeridia). Palaeontology 53, 327–334 (PDF).

9. Sperling, E. A. and Vinther, J. 2010. A placozoan affinity for Dickinsonia and the evolution of late Proterozoic feeding modes. Evolution and Development. 12:2, 201–209 (PDF).

8. Vinther, J., Briggs, D. E. G., Clarke, J., Mayr, G. and Prum, R. O. 2010, Structural coloration in a fossil feather. Biology Letters 6, 128-131 (PDF).

7. Sperling, E. A., Vinther, J., Moy, V., Wheeler, B. M., Semon, M. Briggs, D.E.G. and Peterson, K. J. 2009. MicroRNAs resolve an apparent conflict between annelid systematics and their fossil record. Proc. Roy. Soc. B. 276, 4315-4322 (PDF).

6. Vinther, J. and Briggs, D.E.G. 2009. Machaeridian locomotion. Lethaia 42, 357-364 (PDF).

5. Vinther, J. 2009. The canal system in sclerites of Lower Cambrian Sinosachites (Halkieriidae: Sachitida): Significance for the molluscan affinites of the sachitids. Palaeontology 52, 689-712. (PDF)

4. Vinther, J., Briggs, D. E. G., Prum, R. O. and Saranathan, V. 2008 The colour of fossil feathers. Biology Letters 4, 522-525 (PDF).

3. Vinther, J. Van Roy, P. and Briggs, D. E. G. 2008. Machaeridians are Palaeozoic armoured annelids. Nature 451, 185-188 (PDF, supplement).

2. Kenrick, P and Vinther, J. 2006. Chaetocladus gracilis n. sp., a non-calcified Dasycladales from the Upper Silurian of Skåne, Sweden. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology 142, 153-160 (PDF).

1. Vinther, J. and Nielsen, C. 2005 The Early Cambrian Halkieria is a mollusc, Zoologica Scripta, 34(1), 81-89 (PDF).

Book Chapters

Danmarks ældste fossil (Denmark’s oldest fossil), pp. 103 in: Naturen i Danmark - Geologien, K. S. Jensen and G. Larsen (Eds), Gyldendal, 552 pp.


John F. Enders Fellowship (2009). To conduct studies on early molluscan evolution. $1000.

Carlsberg Foundation (2009). To study aplacophorans and chitons using housekeeping gene phylogeny reconstruction and dating as well as microRNA sequencing. 100.00 DKR ~ $17,000

Yale Center for Field Ecology Pilot grant (2008). To conduct field work in the Early Ordovician rocks of the Anti Atlas Region of Morocco. $2000 dollars.

Malacological Society of London (2007). To conduct molecular biological research on chitons and aplacophorans. 1000 British pounds ~ $1500.

I have also been involved in the successful acquisition of grants derived from my research from the National Geographic foundation: an explorers grant to study the Early Ordovician rocks of the Anti Atlas Region of Morocco (PI: Derek E. G. Briggs) and a Waitts grant to study the coloration of fossil birds and dinosaurs (Grantee Richard O. Prum) and more recently another Waitts grant to study the colors of Archaeopteryx (Grantee Ryan M. Carney).


The Schibbyan prize (2006),  Danish Natural History Society. For the paper: Vinther and Nielsen 2005. The Early Cambrian Halkieria is a mollusc.

Gaylord Simpson Prize, Yale (2008): For the paper: Vinther et al. 2008. Machaeridians are Palaezoic armoured annelids.

Sylvester Bradley award, Palaeontological Association (2009). To study the early evolution of annelids.

Estwing Hammer prize, Yale (2010). For excellence in research as a PhD at the Yale Geology and Geophysics department.

Gaylord Simpson Prize, Yale (2010). For the paper: Vinther 2009. The canal system in sclerites of Lower Cambrian Sinosachites (Halkieriidae: Sachitida): Significance for the molluscan affinites of the sachitids.

James Dwight Dana Fund. Supporting PhD studies at Yale 2009-2010.

Philip M. Orville Prize (2011).  For excellence in graduate studies in the Earth Sciences at Yale Dept. of Geology and Geophysics.

Palass Hodson Award (2012)


Popular work

Vinther, J. Oct 2011. Siriuspasset - et vindue til den Kambriske Eksplosion (Siriuspasset - a window to the Cambrian Explosion). Geologisk Nyt.

Vinther, J. Spring-Summer 2010. An ancient armored worm brought to life. Yale Environmental News, 15(2), 10-11.

Vinther. J. Fall-Winter 2009-2010. Dinosaurs in Technicolor. Yale Environmental News, 15 (1), 22.

Vinther, J. 2010. Dinosaurer i Technicolor (Dinosaurs in Technicolor), Geologisk Nyt, February, 4-9.

Vinther, J. 2008. Pansrede fossile børsteorme (Fossil armoured bristleworms). DYR (Animals, journal title), Zoologisk Museum 1, 6-9. (Link)  

Vinther, J. 2005/2006 - 2006/2007. Den Kambriske Eksplosion; Dag fem i skabelsesberetningen (The Cambrian Explosion; the fifth day in the story of creation) Dansk Naturhistorisk Forenings Årsskrift (Danish Natural History Society, "Yearly Magazine"), 16 and 17, 9-23.

Vinther, J. og Jørgensen, A. F. 2005. Undervandspalæontologi og eremitkrebs som liebhavere (Translated title: Underwater palaeontology and hermit crabs, living in old houses) Varv 2, 22-26.

Vinther, J. 2004. Halkieria - et fossil fra Nedre Kambrium (Halkieria- a fossil from the Lower Cambrian) Varv 4, 3-15.

The Chiton, Mopalia, in early spiral cleavage, 64 cell stage

Trochophore larvae of Mopalia muscosa, under birefringent light

Radio interviews

Nights, a show from New Zealand, fall of 2008. Talking about fossil colors, Listen.

Videnskabens verden, January 24. 2009, Talking about fossil colors, Listen

Videnskabens verden, January 31, 2009, Talking about Penis worms and Early Cambrian enigmas, Listen

TV show

National Geographic produced an episode for Naked Science titled: Dinomorphosis on our work on reconstructing the first colors ever of a dinosaur. Link.


ScienCentral, August 12, 2008.  About fossil color, Link.

Sciencefriday, February, 2010. About fossil color, Link.

News media

Several magazine articles have been written on my work in National Geographic, NY Times, The Economist, Der Spiegel, Science Illustrated and many more.

An article were featured about feathers in National Geographic magazine, february 2011 written by Carl Zimmer.


Butterwort, Pinguiqula vulgaris, Iceland 2010

The Brachiopod, Terebratalia with the lophophore relaxed and retracted

The chiton, Mopalia muscosa, while spawning in petri dishes: Left, male and right; female

Starfish embryo at early gastrula stage