OLD BONES - SVP'S BLOG

My paleontological loss of innocence came when I was interviewing for graduate school. I was touring the fossil mammal collections at the Field Museum in Chicago and recall being disappointed by the many drawers that were filled with teeth and partial jaws. Where were the perfect skulls and complete skeletons I had grown up admiring at the University of Nebraska State Museum? Was this really the material upon which most paleontologic... Read More
Posted: 9/5/2016 1:44:29 PM by croftdarinadmin | with 0 comments
It may seem a little strange to think about resolutions for the new year right now, at the end of August. But for many paleontologists (and many scientists of field-based focus) the end of the summer and the beginning of the academic year is exactly when we think about planning the next year. The field season is over and we’re back in the lab for the next 10 months or so. For me, in the six weeks of field work I did in late Ju... Read More
Posted: 8/28/2016 10:00:00 PM by pennilynhigginsadmin | with 0 comments
This past summer, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to South Africa as an invited speaker at the 2016 Palaeontological Society of Southern Africa conference. To maximize the value of the long journey, my wife and I took a week-long trip up to Kruger National Park. We had a fantastic time driving through this natural wonder, logging more than 35 species of mammals and 95 species of birds. The wildlife was of course spectacula... Read More
Posted: 8/10/2016 6:21:34 PM by andyfarkeadmin | with 0 comments
A recent article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B caught my eye because of its title: “Unique pattern of dietary adaptation in the dentition of Carnivora: its advantage and developmental origin.” After all, who doesn’t like big, pointy teeth and the animals that bear them? My hope was that the article might provide some new insights into why mammals such as cats, dogs, weasels, and mongooses have been more ... Read More
Posted: 7/29/2016 8:22:48 AM by croftdarinadmin | with 0 comments
Field work, that mystical time when paleontologists get out of their labs and their offices to explore for new and exciting scientific finds. For many of us, field work is what helps us keep our sanity. It reminds us why we started doing this in the first place. Field work is a necessary component for maintaining our sanity. But things don't always go according to plan. For example, this is how my field season started: Every ... Read More
Posted: 7/10/2016 3:16:43 PM by pennilynhigginsadmin | with 0 comments
Taphonomy is broadly defined the study of those processes that act on an organism between death and fossilization. Such processes might include breakage and disarticulation due to weathering, scavenging, and trampling, and transportation due to water currents, among many others. Turner (2007) characterized taphonomic processes as information-destroying by nature, and I can certainly understand where he’s coming from. If you&rsq... Read More
Posted: 7/4/2016 11:47:56 AM by mallonjordanadmin | with 0 comments
I have a strong love for zoos, dating to my toddler years when we would visit ours in Memphis, Tennessee.  Though the role of zoos has evolved from simply showing animals to research, education, and conservation, I always delighted in seeing organisms that I wouldn’t run into in the backyard, with the exception of the bovines, where my simplistic child’s mind was terrified that the bull would charge our red tote bag ... Read More
Posted: 6/28/2016 2:51:36 PM by allisonbeckadmin | with 0 comments
Everyone knows about dinosaurs, and most people who dig deeper quickly learn about the two major groups of dinosaurs: saurischians and ornithischians. Saurischians include the long-necked sauropods such as Apatosaurus, often fearsome theropods like Tyrannosaurus, and of course today's birds. Ornithischians were plant-eaters, with such classics as thumb-spiked Iguanodon, three-horned Triceratops, and the plated Stegosaurus. Both g... Read More
Posted: 6/27/2016 9:00:00 AM by andyfarkeadmin | with 0 comments
The success of dinosaurs, and all other vertebrates for that matter, was and is predicated on sexual reproduction. In most cases, male and female individuals in a population of a particular species must come together and mate. There are some exceptions – for example, some populations of lizards are all females but can reproduce through a process known as parthenogenesis (Gilbert, 2010). But can you tell males from females in th... Read More
Posted: 6/20/2016 12:01:00 AM by matthewbonnanadmin | with 0 comments
I recently returned from fieldwork in Bolivia, and although I am a paleontologist, our team’s focus wasn’t fossils. Rather, we were collecting other types of data to allow us to understand the exact ages of fossils from the site and the environments in which those fossils were preserved. This contextual information is just as important as the fossils themselves, as it makes it possible to integrate information from many f... Read More
Posted: 6/19/2016 7:16:37 AM by croftdarinadmin | with 0 comments
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