Dr. Christy Anna Hipsley

Museum für Naturkunde
Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science
Invalidenstrasse 43
10115 Berlin

Phone +49 (0)30 2093 8943
Fax +49 (0)30 2093 8868
E-Mail christy.hipsley(at)mfn-berlin.de

Tasks / Status

Postdoctoral Researcher

Research interests

I am interested in the relationship between the evolutionary history and biology of living and extinct organisms. In particular, I use squamate reptiles, the clade including snakes, lizards and amphisbaenians, to understand how climate change and geological events during earth’s history have shaped patterns of morphological and taxonomic variation. In this context, I use multiple complementary approaches to reconstruct the evolutionary history of squamate lineages, including bioinformatic, molecular, ecological, paleoclimatic and morphological (Computed Tomography) techniques. I am currently applying these methods to lacertid lizards (family Lacertidae) and their sister group Amphisbaenia, to describe how Cenozoic climate change has shaped patterns of diversification, and to identify the contexts under which fossoriality and limblessness evolve.

Research projects

  • Evolution, biogeography, and fossil history of the Amphisbaenia (DFG funded, 2012 - 2015)
  • Evolutionary consequences of Cenozoic climate change on African lacertid lizards (NSF funded, 2009-2012)
  • Patterns of digit and limb reduction in Australian skinks
  • Characterisation of Malagasy herpetofauna
  • Evolution and maintenance of alternative mating strategies in the color-polymorphic lizard, Uta stansburiana



Hipsley, C.A., Müller, J. in press. Relic endemism of extant Rhineuridae (Amphisbaenia): testing for phylogenetic niche conservatism in the fossil record. Anatomical Record.

Miralles, A., Anjeriniaina, M., Hipsley, C.A., Müller, J., Glaw, F., Vences, M. 2012. Variations on a bauplan: description of a new Malagasy “mermaid skink” with flipper-like forelimbs only (Scincidae: Sirenoscincus). Zoosystema 34:701-719.

Sobral, S., Hipsley, C.A., Müller, J. 2012. Braincase redescription of Dysalotosaurus lettowvorbecki (Dinosauria, Ornithopoda) based on computed tomography. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 32:1090–1102.

Müller, J., Hipsley, C.A., Head, J.J., Kardjilov, N., Hilger, A., Wuttke, M., Reisz, R.R. (2011): Eocene lizard from Germany reveals amphisbaenian origins. Nature 473 (7347): 364–367. doi:10.1038/nature09919

Hipsley, C.A., Himmelman, L., Metzler, D., Müller, J. 2009. Integration of Bayesian molecular clock methods and fossil-based soft bounds reveals early Cenozoic origin of African lacertid lizards. BMC Evolutionary Biology 9:151.

Last update: 06.03.2014