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We take our teeth and jaws for granted. Although our back-boned body plan originated over 540 million years ago (Shu et al., 2003), it was not until at least 450 million years ago that our common ancestors began to sport jaws. Data from careful anatomical comparisons, observations of embryonic development, and study of developmental genes strongly indicate that our jaws evolved from the cranial (those towards the head) gill supports ... Read More
Posted: 12/19/2016 12:01:00 AM by matthewbonnanadmin | with 0 comments
Last week, the US Department of the Interior released a proposed set of rules for paleontology on lands that they manage (more info from SVP here). We are now at the beginning of a two month comment period--meaning that you can provide input! In this post, I walk through three particular questions related to these rules. Note that the text here should not be construed to reflect official positions by Society of Vertebrate Paleontolo... Read More
Posted: 12/12/2016 12:12:58 PM by andyfarkeadmin | with 0 comments
Thanks to the Fulbright Scholar Program, I recently had the opportunity to spend several months in La Plata, Argentina. Most of my time was spent on research, and I also helped teach a few classes. But the best part of my fellowship may have been being able to spend lots of time chatting with colleagues and students. It really helped me understand what it takes to become (and be) a vertebrate paleontologist in Argentina, or at least ... Read More
Posted: 12/2/2016 8:29:59 AM by croftdarinadmin | with 0 comments
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
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