Submitted: 4 June 2020
Department: Earth Sciences Department
Institution: University of Florence
Job type: Temporary
Apply by: 10 July 2020
Application email: [email protected]
Application URL:

We are recruiting candidates for a PhD position in Palaeoproteomics, starting September 1st, 2020 or as soon as possible thereafter.The position is part of the European Training Network “PUSHH: Palaeoproteomics to Unleash Studies on Human History” (, funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 861389.

The successful applicant will be part of the Vertebrate Paleontology Group (Paleo[Fab]Lab) at the Earth Sciences Department (DST) of the University of Florence (UniFI). The Vertebrate Paleontology Group is a major international player in Neogene and Quaternary vertebrate Paleontology, and recently contributed to the characterization of the paleoproteomics of and extinct rhino (Stehanorhnus) from the celebrated paleoanthropologic site of Dmanisi, being able to reconstruct their phylogeny in comparison to other extant and fossil rhinoceroses ( In the last few years, the research activity pursued by the DST Vertebrate Paleontology Group significantly contributed to the understanding evolutionary history of the extinct Late Miocene endemic ape Oreopithecus, which willbe the focus of the candidate research.

The successful applicant will also be affiliated to the Paleobiodiversity & Phylogeny Research Group at the Institut Català de Paleontologia Miquel Crusafont (ICP;, which is a partner organization of the PUSHH consortium, and will perform the secondment there. The ICP hosts an important collection of Miocene primates from NEIberia, including the holotypes of multiple hominoid genera described by its researchers, such as Pierolapithecus catalaunicus and Pliobates cataloniae.

Project description:
Molecular-Based Phylogeny of Oreopithecus bambolii (ESR1). Since the time of its first description, the taxonomic and phylogenetic status of the large-bodied hominoid Oreopithecus bambolii has represented some of the most controversial issues in palaeoprimatology. Oreopithecus evolved under insularity conditions on the Tusco-Sardinian paleobioprovince, surviving there until 7.0–6.5 Ma and being the last European ape to become extinct. Although today Oreopithecus is broadly accepted as a hominoid, its unique mosaic of modern hominid derived features with apparently more primitive features and evolutionary convergences with both bipedal hominins and cercopithecid monkeys make its phylogenetic position most uncertain. As a result of this unique combination of morphological features, Oreopithecus is still considered an “enigmatic anthropoid,” with some researchers arguing that it represents a derived great ape that originated from European dryopithecines, and others arguing that it is a late survivor of the African nyanzapithecine lineage. Clarifying the phylogenetic position of O. bambolii and its relations with the Dryopithecinae from Spain will provide an extremely innovative contribution to the reconstruction of the evolutionary history of hominoids during the Late Miocene in Southern Europe and further contribute to resolving the evolutionary history of the group as a whole.

Job description:
The key tasks as a PhD student at DST UniFIare:
●Carry through an independent research project under supervision ●Complete PhD courses corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points ●Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research team ●Obtain experience with dissemination activities related to your PhD project ●Teach and disseminate your knowledge.

As an Early Stage Researcher within the PUSHH network the selected applicant is also expected to:
●Actively attend all the mandatory network-wide PUSHH activities, which will take place in multiple locations in and outside Europe ●Travel for a mandatory secondment period (research stay) at another institution within the PUSHH consortium ●Actively take part in the research projects involving multiple institutions and ESRs within the PUSHH network ●Deliver scientific articles and/or book chapters in collaboration with other PUSHH ESRs and supervisors ●Communicate his/her scientific activity to a broad audience, for example through outreach activities, public lectures, podcasts, and social media ●Comply with the highest standards of research integrity, as set out in the European Code of Conduct for Research Integrity ●Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project.

The detailed job description and eligibility criteria are available here:

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