Author's note: The following article originated as a Facebook status update after the annual meeting in Salt Lake City. It is a little more navel-gazey than I usually post here, but I think it's important to do that every once in awhile, too! Well, it's the end to another SVP. If there is any feeling I have after this year's conference, it is optimism. Optimism for the future of the field, and optimism for the future... Read More
Posted: 11/4/2016 12:10:12 PM by andyfarkeadmin | with 0 comments
How often have you heard or read the phrase, “Paleontologists believe …”? This can occur when a new dinosaur is unveiled to the public. There will be some news coverage that says something like, “the study’s scientists believe that this dinosaur was an herbivore.” Although this is how vertebrate paleontology and other natural sciences are often described in popular media, in reality none of us wri... Read More
Posted: 10/24/2016 12:11:15 AM by matthewbonnanadmin | with 0 comments
Lucy is an iconic early hominin specimen found in 1974 in the Afar Desert of Ethiopia. Technically known as A.L. 288-1, Lucy is certainly one of the most famous fossils of all time. She is notable for her completeness (about 40% of her skeleton is preserved) and for providing our first glimpse into the paleobiology of Australopithecus afarensis, an important branch in the human evolutionary tree.Reconstruction of Lucy by John Gurche ... Read More
Posted: 10/18/2016 6:50:35 AM by croftdarinadmin | with 0 comments
One of the benefits of being a palaeontologist is getting sent free stuff to review. Over the last couple of years, Quarto Publishing has sent me a couple of books from the Ancient Earth Journal series, co-authored by palaeoartists Juan Carlos Alonso and Gregory S Paul. These are presently the only two books in the series: the first details vertebrate faunas of the Early Cretaceous, and the second covers the Late Jurassic. Presumably... Read More
Posted: 9/26/2016 2:35:43 PM by mallonjordanadmin | with 0 comments
Most paleontologists consider outreach to be a good thing, and we often have a few typical activities in mind: elementary school classroom visits, a table at a fair, a public lecture, or maybe some blog posts. But what if we want to try something a bit different? Or, maybe public speaking, chats with schoolkids, and Twitter aren't our thing. What can we do then? Sometimes, I think the most useful and rewarding outreach we can do... Read More
Posted: 9/20/2016 11:20:34 PM by andyfarkeadmin | with 0 comments
As vertebrate paleontologists, we often want to understand the biology, life habits, and ecology of the animals preserved as time capsules in the fossil record. Beyond descriptive anatomy and metrics, fossils can often preserve valuable data at the intersection of the animal and its environment. Consider, for example, the recent revelation that some early tetrapods (Acanthostega) and placoderms (basal jawed fishes) may have segregate... Read More
Posted: 9/12/2016 12:30:00 AM by matthewbonnanadmin | with 0 comments
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
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