Greetings to all,
While Covid-19 shut down lab work at UNLV for the past few months, paleontology research continues apace. Here is a brief update of some of the projects we are working on:
1. Grad student Lauren Parry (shown in the field in the photo below) who worked with me on several projects involving the paleoecology of Columbian mammoths, completed her Ph.D. in May. She is now working for the National Park Service at Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. Lauren and I will be publishing aspects of her dissertation research over the next few months and years. Thanks to all who donated funds to support the Fairbanks Spring mammoth excavation in Amargosa Valley, which was a component of Lauren's dissertation research. You were instrumental in helping Lauren complete that phase of her study.
2. Ph.D. student Eric Chameroy and I spent a week in early June excavating Ice Age fossils in Carson City. Much to my surprise, they turned out to belong to an extinct species of musk ox, Bootherium bombifrons, the helmeted musk ox, which is known from Utah, Idaho, Colorado, and other states, but never before from Nevada. We are now working on these fossils in the prep lab at the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, which is open 9:00 to 4:00, 7 days a week. We are usually there on weekdays (except Wednesdays), working on these fossils, and you are welcome to come by and see what we are working on. The photo below shows Eric working on these fossils in the LVNHM lab, with Susie Hertfelder in the background.
3. Grad student Sarah Grove and I are working on fossil tracks of dinosaurs, protomammals, and arthropods in the sandstones of Red Rock Canyon and Valley of Fire, Our field work has been curtailed by hot weather and Covid-19, but we'll be back in the field in the fall. Along with undergrad student Drew Clark, Sarah and I recently published a paper describing the trackway of a bipedal, carnivorous dinosaur in Valley of Fire State Park.
4. Ph.D. student AnnMarie Jones and I are working on Miocene (roughly 5-to-15-million-years old) fossil-bearing strata in Clark and Nye counties, with fossil tracks of camels, bears, and other animals. We're currently working on a paper on fossil camel tracks near Mesquite.
5. Grad student Michael Strange is in the final stages of his Ph.D. dissertation research, working on invertebrate, tubular, wormlike fossils in Esmeralda County that are about 550 million years old. They are among the oldest multicellular animal fossils on Earth. Michael is studying the geochemistry of how they came to be preserved.
6. Ph.D. student Susie Hertfelder is conducting a detailed study of the taphonomy of the fossils from Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument. Taphonomy (from the same root as 'epitaph') is the study of everything that happens to an animal or plant from the moment it dies to the moment we discovery it. Her research will help us understand the assemblage of Ice Age fossils we find in Southern Nevada.
7. Former UNLV M.S. student Dawn Reynoso is the only paleontologist employed by Nevada State Parks. Dawn and her colleagues are working very hard on the development of Ice Age Fossils State Park. The visitor center is under construction now. Along with interpretive trails, the new visitor center, with amazing exhibits, will be open early next year.
8. My former M.S. student Zach Jensen and I recently completed the study of some 313-million-year-old fossil footprints in the Grand Canyon. They are the oldest fossil vertebrate tracks ever found in the Grand Canyon and among the oldest reptile (or near-reptile) tracks on Earth. Our paper on that project will be published this week in the open-access, online, peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.
If you would like me to send you a digital copy of recently published papers, or if you have questions about our research, please don't hesitate to shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you so much for supporting paleontology research at UNLV.
With warm regards,
Emeritus Professor of Geology