Vertebrate Paleontology Begins!

|Vertebrate Paleontology Begins!

Yesterday marked the beginning of the third Field School module, Vertebrate Paleontology, taught by Dr. Doug Boyer of Duke University. Students have already learned about the geologic time scale, biostratigraphy, and the history of evolutionary thought in lecture, and today they got some first-hand experience working with fossil material from a wide variety of taxa.

Dr. Boyer pulled plenty of material from TBI’s extensive collection, including both extinct and extant fauna, for students to observe, compare, and analyze.

An elephant mandible.

An elephant mandible – check out those teeth!

Maggie gets a closer look at the elephant mandible.

Maggie gets a closer look at the elephant mandible.

Dr. Boyer was on hand to answer questions as students inferred diet from tooth morphology, compared ancient and modern giraffe foot bones, and sorted vertebrae into taxonomic categories.

Dr. Boyer offers assistance to Lucy and Melina.

Dr. Boyer offers assistance to Lucy and Melina.

Students collaborate to arrive at the correct answer.

Students collaborate to arrive at the correct answer.

Ned takes a look at a stromatolite. Stromatolites, fossilized cyanobacteria, are the oldest fossils currently known. Some date back to approximately 3.5 billion years ago.

Ned takes a look at a stromatolite. Stromatolites, fossilized cyanobacteria, are the oldest fossils currently known. Some date back to approximately 3.5 billion years ago.

Trisha works next to a very long long bone.

Trisha works next to a very long long bone.

Students will use their new knowledge during our trip to Napudet tomorrow. Maybe we’ll find some fossils! Stay tuned for an update!

By | 2017-01-04T18:04:52+00:00 October 7th, 2014|Field Schools|Comments Off on Vertebrate Paleontology Begins!

About the Author:

Hello! I am Abby Koppa, the TBI Field School TA for Fall 2014, a third-year PhD student at Stony Brook University in the Department of Ecology and Evolution, and a TBI Graduate Fellow. My research interests include the nutritional and mechanical properties of East African savanna plants, paleoecology, and hominin paleodiet.