OLD BONES - SVP'S BLOG

      It’s National Volunteer Week here in Canada, a time to recognize the tens of millions of volunteers who give their time freely to support our various organizations. Here at the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN), we engage roughly 250 volunteers presently, eight of which work in Palaeobiology. I thought I’d take this chance to pay a brief tribute to our volunteers and the many great things th... Read More
Posted: 4/12/2016 3:56:27 PM by mallonjordanadmin | with 0 comments
One of the most dangerous myths about being a paleontologist--indeed, one that even is perpetuated by some paleontologists--is that we have no time or use to engage outside of our immediate profession. Time not spent doing research is time wasted. This attitude might work well for short-term publication output, but it is a recipe for long-term disaster. As professionals, we have an obligation to step out of the quarry, step out of th... Read More
Posted: 4/8/2016 5:47:31 PM by andyfarkeadmin | with 0 comments
I had never heard of the Tully monster (Tullimonstrum gregarium) before moving to Chicago for graduate school. But after spending several years studying at the Field Museum, I became a Tullimonstrumophile like everyone else in Illinois. (It was named the state fossil in 1989). However, neither I nor anyone else knew what type of monster it actually was: an early relative of backboned animals? something more closely related to snails ... Read More
Posted: 3/24/2016 11:56:59 AM by croftdarinadmin | with 0 comments
Last week some 30 paleontologists presented long-format talks and posters at the Burpee Museum of Natural History’s Annual PaleoFest mini-conference.  Designed to lure both academics and the public alike, PaleoFest consists of unopposed half-hour presentations by scientists that share novel research in paleontology with specialists, interested amateurs, and the public.  In conjunction, the museum runs kid-friendly a... Read More
Posted: 3/22/2016 11:02:21 AM by allisonbeckadmin | with 0 comments
I was asked this question the other day. No doubt the asker, a personal friend, is not the only person who has ever wondered this: "OK, I'm reading all of these variations on the species, and the thought of goats popped into my head. It would work with dogs too. You have a species, with a lot of physical variation in it. All different adult sizes & forms. All of them are the same species, though the breeds are dis... Read More
Posted: 3/10/2016 11:32:05 AM by pennilynhigginsadmin | with 0 comments
How do we determine the ontogenetic (developmental) age of a fossil vertebrate, like a dinosaur? It ain’t easy. One of the best methods is thin-sectioning long bones and counting the growth rings inside, akin to determining the age a tree. However, this isn’t always possible for a variety of reasons, including the unavailability of appropriate fossil material or the prohibition of destructive analysis (museums tend not to... Read More
Posted: 2/29/2016 12:02:10 PM by mallonjordanadmin | with 0 comments
For the general public, the view of the deep past is rather skewed towards dinosaurs and Ice Age mammals.  One gets the impression that the first life was bacteria, then bugs, then some fishy things, and then dinosaurs came around and changed the world.  To be fair, dinosaurs were an important and significant part of vertebrate history, but in many cases they were re-inventing ecosystems already established by our own dista... Read More
Posted: 2/24/2016 5:05:02 PM by matthewbonnanadmin | with 0 comments
As a museum curator who regularly interacts with non-museum folks, I'll occasionally talk with a person who spots an error or outdated piece of information in a museum exhibit. Maybe the name for a particular species has changed, or perhaps the posture on a skeleton doesn't reflect the latest state of knowledge. Not infrequently, this is followed by a question: "So, when are you going to fix that?" I have heard thi... Read More
Posted: 2/17/2016 12:00:00 AM by host | with 0 comments
Tortoises have been on my mind a lot lately. It began when we discovered some giant fossil shell and limb bone remains at one of our sites in Bolivia. My collaborators and I eventually determined they were from a giant tortoise of the genus Chelonoidis, the same genus that includes the famous Gal√°pagos Island tortoises. I knew that smaller species like the red-footed tortoise (Chelonoidis carbonaria) still lived in many areas of Sout... Read More
Posted: 2/11/2016 12:00:00 AM by croftdarinadmin | with 0 comments
I prepared this text for my students to help them understand the difference between plagiarism and copyright infringement as they work on videos as a class project. There is always confusion about what's legal and what isn't, what exactly constitutes plagiarism, and how copyright figures into this. My students aren't the only ones confused on this point, and as the years have passed I have seen copyright infringem... Read More
Posted: 2/1/2016 12:00:00 AM by host | with 0 comments
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