Marie K. Hörnig

My main research interest is the evolution of arthropods, with a focus on the evolution of ontogenetic patterns including fossil representatives. During my diploma thesis, I especially investigated the insect group Dictyoptera.


Modern dictyopteran insects, which comprise roaches, termites and mantodeans, show a wide range of social behaviour including different types of brood care: carrying an ootheca ("egg packages"), ovovivipary (retraction of oothecae into brood pouch) right up to vivipary. Different species also feed and protect the young after hatching and exhibit a sub-social and even eu-social behaviour.


Roach-like insects possess a long-ranging fossil record. They already dominated the fauna of Carboniferous forests 300 million years ago.

My research focusses on the evolution of ontogenesis and the deep-time aspects of social and brood care behaviour. Furthermore, I investigated the origin of the different morphotypes within Dictyoptera.


Behaviour cannot directly be observed in extinct species, yet the morphology of fossilised organisms can show some aspects that indicate specific behaviour (e.g. predation) or different grades of intraspecific sociality and brood care. For reconstructing the evolution of these aspects I investigated extinct fossilized representatives of Dictyoptera (especially fossil inclusions in amber) and compared these with observations of extant species.


Different methods are used for the documentation of the fossilised and extant insects, e.g. light microscopy and composite macrophotography under polarised light, stereo photography, micro-computed tomography, and virtual surface reconstructions.


During my PhD studies I broaden this approach and investigate the evolution of reproductive strategies of fossil insects in general.



Fellowships and grants:


since 05/2015: PhD fellowship of the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes


04/2015: Bogislaw PhD fellowship of the Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University of Greifswald (declined in favour of Studienstiftung fellowhip)


2014: EU-Synthesys grant for 3 weeks at the Natural History Museum Vienna


2013: EU-Synthesys grant for 2 weeks at the Zoological Museum Copenhagen



Research visits:


07/2015: Natural History Museum Vienna


07/2014: Zoological Museum Copenhagen





Hädicke, C. W., Hörnig, M. K., Haug, C. & Haug, J. T. 2014. New data on fossil Archaeognatha from Baltic amber and the origin of the insect ovipositor. Palaeodiversity 7, 167–183. Free access PDF Suppl.1 Suppl. 2


Hörnig, M. K., Haug, C., Herd, K. J. & Haug, J. T. 2014. New insights into dictyopteran early development: smallest Palaeozoic roachoid nymph found so far. Palaeodiversity 7, 159–165. Free access PDF


Hörnig, M. K., Haug, J. T. & Haug, C. 2013. New details of Santanmantis axelrodi and the evolution of the mantodean morphotype. Palaeodiversity 6, 157–168. Free access PDF



Examples for conference contributions:


a) Talks:


Hörnig, M. K. 2014. Multimethodischer Ansatz zur Dokumentation fossiler Arthropoden. Paläoentomologentreffen 2014, München.


Hörnig, M. K., Haug, C. & Haug, J. T. 2014. Cockroach-like insects: successful since 300 million years and therefore “living fossils”?. Euro Evo Devo, Wien.


Hörnig, M. K. 2013. Hinweise auf Brutpflege bei Schaben in Baltischem Bernstein. 1. Hansetag 2013, Rostock.


Hörnig, M. K., Haug, C., Sombke, A., Harzsch, S. & Haug, J. T. 2013. Evolution und erdgeschichtliches Auftreten von Brutpflegeverhalten innerhalb der dictyopteren Insekten. 6. Graduiertenforum Morphologie 2013 Ulm.



b) Poster:


Hörnig, M. K., Haug, C. & Haug, J. T. 2014. The evolution of dictyopteran oothecae and their fossil record. 3rd International Congress on Invertebrate Morphology, Berlin.


Hörnig, M. K., Sombke, A., Haug, C., Hädicke, C. W. & Haug, J. T. 2014. Arthropods in Baltic amber – documentation with a multi-methodological approach. Digital specimen 2014, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.


Hörnig, M. K., Sombke, A., Haug, C., Harzsch, S. & Haug, J. T. 2013. The evolution of brood care behaviour in dictyopteran insects and its fossil record – Brood care in Eocene and Cretaceous cockroaches. 84. Jahrestagung der Paläontologischen Gesellschaft, Göttingen.


Hörnig, M. K., Sombke, A., Haug, C., Harzsch, S. & Haug, J. T. 2013. The evolution of oothecae and brood care behaviour in dictyopterans insects and its fossil record. 57th Annual Meeting of the Palaeontological Association, Zürich.