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At the core of my research interests is the desire to understand how novel forms and functions originate and change through time, integrating biological, geological, and paleontological information. I focus on systematics and evolution in invertebrates: the most diverse and speciose group of macro-organisms since the beginning of the Phanerozoic, more than 540 million years ago. However, little is known about the early history and fossil record of invertebrates in tropical settings, despite the tropics holding much of the world’s biodiversity and being considered cradles of diversity through time. This, in turn, results in considerable biases when addressing major phylogenetic, biogeographic, and evolutionary questions.  My work has largely resulted from leading and participating in international fieldwork excursions—from weeks to several months at a time—in harsh and remote areas of the tropics (e.g., high Andes, jungles of Ecuador, deserts in northern Colombia, the Panama Canal, the tropical Indo-Pacific), paired with intensive museum collection-based work and active laboratory studies.


I obtained my B.Sc. in Geology from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (2006), a M.Sc. in Biology from the Université de Montréal (2012), and a Ph.D. in Systematics and Evolution from the University of Alberta (2018), supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), Alexander Graham Bell Canada Graduate Scholarship, and a Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Scholarship. Since then, I have completed Postdoctoral Fellowships at Yale University (2018–2020), supported by an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship (Canada), and at Harvard University-Florida International University (2020–2022), supported by a National Science Foundation (NSF, USA) research grant.


  • Exceptional preservation of fossil invertebrates in tropical settings
  • Form-function relationships and the evolution of novelties
  • Phylogenetic relationships among extinct and extant decapod crustaceans
  • The transition from sea to land in crabs
  • Morphology and evolution of compound eyes and visual systems


Key publications: 

Jenkins, K.M., Briggs, D.E.G., & *Luque, J. (2022) The remarkable visual system of a Cretaceous crab. iScience 25: 103579 [Link].

Luque, J., Xing, L., Briggs, D.E.G., Clark, E.G., Duque, A., Hui, J., Mai, H., & McKellar, R.C. (2021) Crab in amber reveals an early colonization of non-marine environments during the Cretaceous. Sciences Advances 7: eabj5689

Robin, N., Gueriau, P., S. Luque, J., Jarvis D., Daley A.C., & Vonk, R. (2021) The Late Devonian Oxyuropoda is the oldest peracarid crustacean and reveals the antiquity of the freshwater colonization by isopod relatives. Biology Letters 17(6): 20210226

Wolfe, J., Luque, J., & Bracken-Grissom, H.D. (2021)  How to Become a Crab: Phenotypic Constraints on a Recurring Body Plan. Bioessays, 43(5): 1–14

Luque, J., Feldmann, R.M., Vernygora, O., Schweitzer, C.E., Cameron, C.B., Kerr, K.A., Vega, F.J., Duque, A., Strange, M., Palmer, A.R., & Jaramillo, C. (2019) Exceptional preservation of mid-Cretaceous marine arthropods and the evolution of novel forms via heterochrony. Sciences Advances, 5: eaav3875. doi 10.1126/sciadv.aav3875 [Link]

Luque, J. & Gerken, S. (2019) Exceptional preservation of comma shrimp from a mid-Cretaceous Lagerstätte of Colombia, and the origins of crown Cumacea. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 286: 20191863.  doi 10.1098/rspb.2019.1863 [Link]

Jaramillo, C., Romero, I., D’Apolito, C., Bayona, G., Duarte, E., Louwye, S., Escobar, J., Luque, J., Carrillo, J., Zapata, V., Mora, A., Schouten, S., Zavada, M., Harrington, G., & Ortiz, J. (2017) Miocene Flooding Events of Western Amazonia. Science Advances 3(5):e1601693  [Link]


Other publications: 


Gueriau, P., Rak, S., Broda, K., Kumpan, T., Viktoryn, P.Valach, Zaton, M., Charbonnier, S. & Luque, J. Exceptional Late Devonian arthropods document the origin of decapod crustaceans.

Luque, J., Allison, W.T., Bracken-Grissom, H.D., Jenkins, K.M., Palmer, A.R., Porter, M.L., Wolfe, J.M. Evolution of crab eye structures and the utility of ommatidia morphology in resolving phylogeny. doi:

Wolfe, J.M., Ballou, L., Luque, J., Watson-Zink, V.M., Ahyong, S.T., Barido-Sottani, J., Chan, T-Y., Chu, K.H., Crandall, K.A., Daniels, S.R., Felder, D.L., Mancke, H., Martin, J.W., Ng, P.K.L., Ortega-Hernández, J., Palacios Theil1, E., Pentcheff, N.D., Robles, R., Thoma, B.P., Tsang, L.M., Wetzer, R., Windsor, A.M., Bracken-Grissom, H.D. Convergent adaptation of true crabs (Decapoda, Brachyura) to a gradient of terrestrial environments.



Ferratges, F.A., Luque, J., Ossó, A., Dominguez, J.L., Aurell, M., & Zamora, S. (accepted) The oldest dairoidid crab (Decapoda: Brachyura: Parthenopoidea). Papers in Palaeontology, PALA-09-22-5399-OA.

Carrillo, J.D., Suarez, C., Benites, A., Vanegas, A., Link, A., Rincón, A., Luque, J., Cooke, S., Tallman, M. & Billet, G. (accepted) New remains of Neotropical bunodont litopterns and the systematics of Megadolodinae (Mammalia: Litopterna). Geodiversitas geo20220012.

Vega, F.J., Alvarado-Ortega, J., Luque, J., Porras-Múzquiz, H., Carbot-Chanona, G., González-Rodríguez, K.A., Cevallos-Ferriz, S.R.S. & Ifrim, C. (2022) Cretaceous Crustacea from plattenkalk deposits of Mexico. Journal of South American Earth Sciences

Xing, L., Liu, Y., McKellar, R.C., Luque, J. & Audo, D. (2021) The first shrimp preserved in mid-Cretaceous Kachin amber: systematics, palaeoecology, and taphonomy. Science Bulletin 66(17): 1723–1726 [Link]

Luque, J., Cortés, D., Rodriguez-Abaunza, G.A., Cárdenas, D., and Parra, J.D. (2020) Orithopsid crabs from the Lower Cretaceous Paja Formation in Boyacá (Colombia), and the earliest record of parasitic isopod traces in Raninoida. Cretaceous Research, 116, 104602 doi: 10.1016/j.cretres.2020.104602 [Link]

Luque, J., Nyborg, T., Alvarado-Ortega, J., & Vega, F.J. (2020) Crustacea (Anomura, Brachyura) form the Miocene of Veracruz and Chiapas, Mexico: new records and new species. Journal of South American Earth Sciences, 100: 102561. [Link]

Pasini, G., Luque, J., & Garassino, A. (2020) Ancipitecancer collinsi, a new genus and species of problematic eubrachyuran crab from the Pleistocene of Italy. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie. Abhandlungen, 296(1–2): 193–199. DOI: 10.1127/njgpa/2020/0890 [Link]

Schweitzer, C.E., Feldmann, R.M., Karasawa, H., Luque, J., & Vega, F. (2019) New decapod crustacean (Brachyura, Raninoida) from the Lower Cretaceous Hudspeth Formation of Oregon, USA. Bulletin of the Mizunami Fossil Museum, 45: 15–22  [Link]

Audo, D., Robin, N., Luque, J., Krobicki, M., Jauvion, C., Haug, J., Haug, C., & Charbinnier, S. (2019) Palaeoecology of Voulteryon parvulus (Eucrustacea, Polychelida) from the Callovian of La Voulte-sur-Rhône (France). Scientific Reports, 9:5332  [Link]

Carrillo–Briceño, J.D., Parra, J., & Luque, J. (2019) A new lamniform shark Protolamna ricaurtei sp. nov. from the Lower Cretaceous of Colombia. Cretaceous Research 95: 336–340  [Link]

Prado, L.A.C., Luque, J., Barreto, A.M.F., & Palmer, A.R. (2018) New true crabs (Decapoda: Brachyura: Raninoida and Eubrachyura) from the Aptian–Albian Romualdo Formation, Santana Group of Brazil: evidence for a Tethyan connection to the Araripe Basin. Acta Palaeontologica Polonica 63(4): 737–750  [Link]

Ossó, À., Kendrew, E., & Luque, J. (2018) New occurrences of crabs (Decapoda, Brachyura, Eubrachyura) in the Pliocene of Florida. Geodiversitas 40(23):559–566  [Link]

Luque, J., Christy, J., Hendy, A.J.W., Rosenberg, M., Kerr, K.A., Portell, R.W., & Palmer, A.R. (2018) Quaternary intertidal and supratidal crabs (Decapoda, Brachyura) from tropical America and the systematic affinities of fossil fiddler crabs. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 16(12): 1037–1055  [Link]

Vernygora, O., Murray, A., Luque, J., Parra-Ruge, M.L., & Páramo, M. (2018) A new Cretaceous dercetid fish (Neoteleostei: Aulopiformes) from the Turonian of Colombia. Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 16(12): 1057–1071 [Link]

Luque, J., Schweitzer, C.E., Santana, W., Portell, R.W., Vega, F.J., & Klompmaker, A.A. (2017) Checklist of fossil decapod crustaceans from tropical America, Part I: Anomura and Brachyura. Nauplius 25: e2017025[Link]

Luque, J. (2017) Fossil Hermit and Land Crabs (Anomura, Brachyura) from the Quaternary of Antigua and Bermuda. Journal of Crustacean Biology 37(2):151–156  [Link]

Martínez-Díaz, J.L., Aguillón-Martínez, M.C., Luque, J., & Vega, F.J. (2017) Additions to the Paleocene decapod Crustacea from Northeastern Mexico. Journal of South American Earth Sciences 74: 67–82  [Link]

Schweitzer, C.E., Karasawa, H., Luque, J., & Feldmann, R.M. (2016) Phylogeny and Classification of Necrocarcinoidea Förster, 1968 (Brachyura: Raninoida) with description of two new genera. Journal of Crustacean Biology 36(3):338–372  [Link]

Feldmann, R.M., Schweitzer, C.E., Schweigert, G., Robins, C., Karasawa, H., & Luque, J. (2016) Additions to the morphology of Munidopsidae (Decapoda: Anomura) and Goniodromitidae (Decapoda: Brachyura) from Solnhofen-type lagerstätten, Germany. Neues Jahrbuch für Geologie und Paläontologie. Abhandlungen 279(1): 43–56  [Link]

Luque, J., Hourdez, S., & Vinn, O. (2015) A New Fossil Bristle Worm (Annelida: Polychaeta: Aphroditiformia) from the Late Cretaceous of Tropical America. Journal of Paleontology 89(2): 257–261  [Link]

Luque, J. (2015) The oldest Higher True Crabs (Crustacea: Decapoda: Eubrachyura): insights from the Early Cretaceous of the Americas. Palaeontology 58(2): 251–263  [Link]

Luque, J. (2015) A puzzling frog crab (Crustacea: Decapoda: Brachyura) from the Early Cretaceous Santana Group of Brazil: frog first or crab first? Journal of Systematic Palaeontology 13(2): 153–166  [Link]

Kerr, K., Christy, J., Joly–Lopez, Z., Luque, J., Collin, R., & Guichard, F. (2014) Timing reproduction when temperature varies: behavioral mechanisms in fiddler crabs. PLOS ONE 9(5): e97593)  [Link]

Karasawa, H., Schweitzer, C.E., Feldmann, R.M., & Luque, J. (2014) Phylogeny and Classification of the Raninoida (Decapoda: Brachyura). Journal of Crustacean Biology 34(2): 216–272  [Link].

Luque, J. (2014) A new genus and species of raninoidian crab (Decapoda, Brachyura) from the Lower Cretaceous of Colombia, South America. Scripta Geologica Special Issue, 147: 27–34  [Link]

Vinn, O., & Luque, J. (2013) First record of the pectinariid–like (Polychaeta, Annelida) agglutinated worm tube from the Late Cretaceous of Colombia. Cretaceous Research 41: 107–110  [Link]

Luque, J., Feldmann, R. M., Schweitzer, C. E., Jaramillo, C., & Cameron, C. B. (2012) The oldest frog crabs (Decapoda: Brachyura: Raninoida) from the Aptian of Northern South America. Journal of Crustacean Biology 32 (3): 405–420  [Link]

Vega, F.J., Nyborg, T., Kovalchuck, G., Luque, J., Rojas, A., Patarroyo, P.C., Porras–Múzquiz, H., Armstrong, A., & Garibay, L. (2010) On some Panamerican Cretaceous crabs (Decapoda: Podotremata). Boletín de la Sociedad Geológica Mexicana 62 (2): 263–279  [Link]

Vega, F.J., Nyborg, T.G., Rojas, A., Patarroyo, P., Luque, J., Porraz–Múzquiz, H., & Stinnesbeck, W. (2007) Upper Cretaceous Crustacea from Mexico and Colombia: Similar Faunas and Environments During Turonian Times. Revista Mexicana de Ciencias Geológicas 24 (3): 403–422  [Link]

OTHER PUBLICATIONS / BOOK CHAPTERS (*corresponding author)

Luque, J., Schweitzer, C.E., Feldmann, R.M., & Vega, F.J. (submitted) Part R, Revised, Volume 1, Chapter 1X: Systematic Descriptions: Section Callichimaeroida. Treatise Online.

Schweitzer, C.E., Feldmann, R.M., Frantescu, O.D., Karasawa, H., Luque, J., Martin, J.W., Pentcheff, N.D., & Tshudy, D. (in review) Part R, Revised, Volume 1, Chapter 2: Illustrated Glossary of the Decapoda. Treatise Online.

Schweitzer, C.E., Feldmann, R.M., Audo, D., Charbonnier, S., Fraaije, R.H.B., Frantescu, O.D., Hyzny, M., Karasawa, H., Klompmaker, A., Luque, J., Robins, C.M., Schram, F.R., Schweigert, G., & Tshudy, D. (in review) Part R, Revised, Volume 1, Chapter 1A: Generalized External Adult Decapoda Morphology. Treatise Online.

Luque, J., & Rodríguez–Abaunza, G.A. (in press) Fossil corals and crustaceans from Barro Colorado Island. In Stallard, R.F. (ed). 100 years of Research at BCI, Volume 1, The Physical Basis. Smithsonian Scholarly Press. 7pp.

Luque, J. (2021) Crustacic Park: Fossils in amber and the march out of the ocean by crabs during the Cretaceous. Revista de la Academia Colombiana de Ciencias Exactas, Físicas y Naturales 45(177): 1277–1279 [Link].

Hegna, T., Luque, J., & Wolfe, J. (2020). The Fossil Record of Pancrustacea. In Poore, G., & Thiel, M. (eds) The Natural History of the Crustacea, Volume VIII, Evolution and Biogeography, 21–52 [Link]

Schweitzer, C.E., Feldmann, R.M, Karasawa, H., & Luque, J. (2018) Part R, Revised, Volume 1, Chapter 8S: Systematic Descriptions: Section Raninoida. Treatise Online 113: 1–42, 20 figs [Link]

Luque, J., and Cárdenas, A. (2018) Devónico (Devonian Period). In Jaramillo, C., and Oviedo, L.H., (eds) Hace Tiempo: Un viaje paleontológico ilustrado por Colombia. Instituto Alexander von Humboldt e Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales. Bogotá, D.C., Colombia. Punto Aparte, Bogotá, Colombia: 49–49. (in Spanish) [Link]

Luque, J. (2018) Cretácico Temprano (Early Cretaceous). In Jaramillo, C., and Oviedo, L.H., (eds) Hace Tiempo: Un viaje paleontológico ilustrado por Colombia. Instituto Alexander von Humboldt e Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales. Bogotá, D.C., Colombia. Punto Aparte, Bogotá, Colombia: 50–53. (in Spanish) [Link]

Luque, J. (2018) Cangrejos (Crabs). In Jaramillo, C., and Oviedo, L.H., (eds) Hace Tiempo: Un viaje paleontológico ilustrado por Colombia. Instituto Alexander von Humboldt e Instituto Smithsonian de Investigaciones Tropicales. Bogotá, D.C., Colombia. Punto Aparte, Bogotá, Colombia: 88–91. (in Spanish) [Link]

Luque, J., Agic, H., Anderson, E.P., Dahl, R., Donovan, M., Field, D.J., Fronimos, J.A., Hodges, M., Motz, G.J., Roney, R., Saupe, E.E., Sheffield, S., Tackett, L., & Tashman, J.N. (2015) Diversity in all its forms: IPC4 as an invaluable opportunity for STEPPE grant recipients. GSA Today 5(1):24–25 [Link]


Dr Javier Luque

Contact Details

Museum of Zoology, David Attenborough Building, Downing St