Fabiany Herrera Tolosa

Assistant Curator of Paleobotany

Negaunee Integrative Research Center
Science Focus

      Fabiany Herrera grew up in Colombia, surrounded by the Andes and its many types of forests; from montane to rainforests. He first became interested in rocks and mountains during his high school years and quickly fell in love with fossil and living plants later as an undergraduate student. Some of Fabiany's work includes the earliest evidence of Neotropical rainforests in South America (~60 million years old), enigmatic plants from Mongolia and China (~125 million years old), and fossil floras from Central America (~35-20 million years old).

      Education and Work

      • Ph.D., Botany, 2014, University of Florida
      • M.S. Geology, 2008, University of Florida
      • B.S. Geology, 2005, Industrial University of Santander, Colombia- Postdoctoral Research Associate, Chicago Botanic Garden, 2014-2021.
      • Adjunct Faculty Member, Biology Department, Elmhurst University, 2017 to present.
      • Research Associate, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama. 2005 to present


      Key publications of Fabiany include the following. See more in Fabiany’s lab website.

      Herrera F., Testo W.L., Field A.F., Clark E.G., Herendeen P.S, Crane P.R., Shi G. 2022. A permineralized Early Cretaceous lycopsid from China and the evolution of crown clubmosses. New Phytologist. https://doi.org/10.1111/nph.17874

      Shi G., Herrera F., Herendeen P.S., Clark E.G., Crane P.R. 2021. Mesozoic cupules and the origin of the angiosperm second integument. Nature. 594: 223–226 https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-021-03598-w

      Herrera F., G Shi, M. A. Bickner, N. Ichinnorov, A. B. Leslie, P. R. Crane, and P. S. Herendeen. 2021. Early Cretaceous abietoid Pinaceae from Mongolia and the history of seed scale shedding. American Journal of Botany 108(8): 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajb2.1713

      Carvalho M.R., Jaramillo C., de la Parra F., Caballero-Rodríguez D., Herrera F., et al. 2021. Extinction at the end-Cretaceous set the origin of modern Neotropical rainforests. Science. Vol. 372, Issue 6537, pp. 63-68. https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abf1969

      Herrera F., Shi G., Mays C., Ichinnorov N., Takahashi M., Bevitt JJ., Herendee PS., Crane PR. 2020. Reconstructing Krassilovia mongolica supports recognition of a new and unusual group of Mesozoic conifers. PLoS ONE 15(1): e0226779. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0226779

      Herrera F., M. Carvalho, S.L. Wing, C. Jaramillo, and P.S. Herendeen. 2019. Middle-Late Paleocene Leguminosae Fruits and Leaves from Colombia. Australian Systematic Botany (invited). 32(6): 385-408 https://doi.org/10.1071/SB19001 http://www.publish.csiro.au/SB/SB19001

      Herrera F., M. Carvalho, C. Jaramillo, and S.R. Manchester. 2019. 19 Million-Year-Old Spondioid Fruits from Panama Reveal a Dynamic Dispersal History for Anacardiaceae. International Journal of Plant Sciences 180 (6): 479–492. https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/doi/abs/10.1086/703551

      Herrera F., G. Shi, N. Ichinnorov, M. Takahashi, E. Bugdaeva, P.S, Herendeen, and P.R. Crane. 2017. The presumed ginkgophyte Umaltolepis has seed-bearing structures resembling those of Peltaspermales and Umkomasiales. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA: 114 (12) E2385-E2391. https://www.pnas.org/content/114/12/E2385.abstract

      Herrera, F., SR. Manchester, and C. Jaramillo. 2012. Permineralized fruits from the late Eocene of Panama give clues of the composition of forests established early in the uplift of Central America. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, 175, 10–24. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0034666712000371

      Wing, S.L., Herrera, F., Jaramillo, C., Gomez, C., Wilf, P., and Labandeira, C.C. 2009. Late Paleocene fossils from the Cerrejón Formation, Colombia, are the earliest record of Neotropical Rainforest. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, 106: 18627-18632. https://www.pnas.org/content/106/44/18627.full

      Head, J., Bloch, J. Hasting, A., Bourque, J., Cadena, E., Herrera, F., Polly, P.D., and Jaramillo, C. 2009. Giant Boine Snake From A Paleocene Neotropical Rainforest Indicates Hotter Past Equatorial Temperatures. Nature, 457: 715-718. https://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v457/n7230/abs/nature07671.html

      Herrera, F., CA. Jaramillo, DL. Dilcher, SL. Wing, and C. Gómez-N. 2008. Fossil Araceae from a Paleocene neotropical rainforest in Colombia. American Journal of Botany, 95(12): 1569–1583. https://bsapubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdfdirect/10.3732/ajb.0800172

      Research Sketch

      Fabiany’s research investigates:
      1. The evolutionary origin of the tropical rainforests and flowering plant lineages. 
      2. The study of Mesozoic plants to improve understanding of the timing of events in seed plant evolution.
      3. Paleobiogeographic and paleoclimatic history of the Cenozoic.  
      4. Integrated paleobotanical and neobotanical studies of plant diversity and evolution.