Heather DeShon, Earth Sciences, new earthquake map shows quakes continue along fault line found in February

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: October 20, 2015

On Friday — or, as I like to say, two small earthquakes ago — our local earthquake task force (consisting of U.S. Geological Survey and SMU seismologists and Dallas and Irving city hall-passers) met to get a better look at that two-mile-long Irving-to-Northwest Dallas fault line uncovered in February. And what they saw was the new map posted above, which pinpoints quakes and smaller “events” detected by seismographs between January 1 and October 16. MORE

Listen: Thousands Of Vertebrate Paleontologists Descend On Dallas


Originally Posted: October 15, 2015

LISTEN : Everything I knew about paleontology conferences, I learned from TV and “Friends.” There was that time Ross and his girlfriend were prepping for a conference in Barbados.

“By using CT scans and computer imaging, we can in a very real way bring the Mesozoic era into the 21st century,” Ross says.

In the real world, at the conference put on by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the lingo isn’t so simple. Here are some of the session titles:

“A new large non-pterodactyloid pterosaur from a late-Jurassic interdunal desert environment with a neo-eolian nugget sandstone of Northeastern Utah.” READ MORE

Watch: Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences, Unalaska’s oddball desmostylian

New fossils from the Aleutian Islands intensify the mystery surrounding a toothy, hippopotamus-sized mammal unique to the North Pacific. An oddball creature, it suction-fed shoreline vegetation, say paleontologists from Southern Methodist University and the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, Dallas. YouTube Preview Image

Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences and paleontologist Anthony Fiorillo announced the discovery of a new species of ancient mammal.

Huffington Post

Originally Posted: October 8, 2015

Scientists have discovered a previously unknown creature — and it ate in a unique way that hasn’t been seen before.

The extinct species, which belonged to a group of aquatic mammals called Desmostylia that lived across the North Pacific some 23 million years ago, hoovered up vegetation like some sort of beastly vacuum cleaner, according to a study published last week in the journal Historical Biology.

“The new animal — when compared to one of a different species from Japan — made us realize that desmos do not chew like any other animal,” Dr. Louis Jacobs, professor of paleontology at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and a co-author of the study, said in a written statement. “They clench their teeth, root up plants and suck them in.”

The researchers concluded that the species, which was dubbed Ounalashkastylus tomidai, might have braced its lower jaw and teeth against the upper jaw and used its powerful muscles to suck up vegetation. READ MORE

Louis Jacobs, Earth Sciences, New fossils intensify mystery of short-lived, toothy mammal found in ancient North Pacific


Originally Posted: October 6, 2015

The identification of a new species belonging to the marine mammal group Desmostylia has intensified the rare animal’s brief mysterious journey through prehistoric time, finds a new study.

A big, hippo-sized animal with a long snout and tusks — the new species, 23 million years old, has a unique tooth and jaw structure that indicates it was not only a vegetarian, but literally sucked vegetation from shorelines like a vacuum cleaner, said vertebrate paleontologist and study co-author Louis L. Jacobs, Southern Methodist University, Dallas. READ MORE

Palaeobotanist Bonnie Jacobs spent 15 years studying ancient plants to help predict future climate change


Originally Posted: September 16, 2015

Professor recounts adventure and discovery in Ethiopia

DALLAS (SMU) – In the movies, the adventure begins when the sinister industrialist abducts Harrison Ford to plan a hunt for lost treasure.


For Bonnie Jacobs, it started with a phone ring.

In the late summer of 2000, the SMU palaeobotanist was working in her office on the third floor of the University’s Heroy Science Hall when an old colleague called with exciting news about Ethiopia. He’d just returned from a dig site where he’d expected to find fossils from eight million years ago. Instead, he’d found fossils from 27 million years ago – mostly plants. He thought it was a job for Jacobs, one of the premier palaeobotanists of African flora.

Although Jacobs had just recently returned from field research in Tanzania, “There is something about Africa that keeps people coming back again and again,” she says. “Much of tropical Africa’s ancient plant history was a mystery, so that’s what attracted me. Not just the romance of exploration, but also because so little was known.”

Africa called, Jacobs answered, and a 15-year adventure in Ethiopia was born. READ MORE

“SMU’s seismology team stands by its research and does not comment on public policy.”

Dallas Morning News

Originally Posted: September 10, 2015

Five months ago geologists from Southern Methodist University identified two wells used to store wastewater from natural gas drilling as the likely cause of a series of earthquakes around the North Texas town of Azle in late 2013.

Now the Texas Railroad Commission is questioning whether they had enough evidence.

In preliminary findings released Thursday, examiners with the commission said there was not sufficient proof the injection well operated by EnerVest, a Houston-based oil and gas company, caused the seismic activity. They recommended the well be allowed to continue operating.

That followed on from a finding last month that another injection well operated by XTO Energy, a subsidiary of oil giant Exxon Mobil, was also not to blame for the earthquakes.

“SMU’s seismology team stands by its research and does not comment on public policy,” a spokeswoman for the university said in a statement. READ MORE

Dinosaur-hunting: A Famous Fossil Safari

Dallas Zoo

Originally Posted: August 14, 2015

Just east of Matlock Road in Mansfield, Texas, a small, seemingly unremarkable plot of land overlooks a new shopping center. Graded for construction, the upturned earth impregnated with shale and red clay resembles so many other future building sites across the booming Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Yet this spring, this was the epicenter of a remarkable tale: a rare, 96-million-year-old dinosaur discovery by 5-year-old Wylie Brys and his father, Dallas Zoo employee Tim Brys.

Wylie and Tim suddenly found themselves thrust into the international spotlight: “Texas boy discovers dinosaur bones,” “Not Your Typical Sandbox Find!” and “Jurassic Jackpot,” the headlines shouted, with reports running on hundreds of media outlets, including the BBC, Huffington Post, Washington Post, Associated Press, U.S. News & World Report, and Time. More than 6.5 million people across the country watched accounts of the father-and-son team. ABC World News Tonight Anchor David Muir even introduced Wylie as the “Jurassic kid.” READ MORE

Dedman College Alumnus Junchang Lü ’04 Identifies Velociraptor Cousin, Maybe Weirder And Scarier Than Movies Imagine


LuFeatheredDinoSMU alumnus Junchang Lü ’04, one of China’s leading dinosaur experts, has helped identify a new dinosaur species – Zhenyuanlong suni – a cousin to the Velociraptor of Jurassic World fame and the newest clue as to how birds descended from dinosaurs.

The well-preserved fossil of a dinosaur with bird-like wings was unearthed by a farmer in northeastern China and eventually found its way to Lü, a top dinosaur researcher with the Institute of Geology at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing. Lü called in Stephen Brusatte of the University of Edinburgh to aid in the identification process. The two scientists had teamed up previously in the discovery of Qianzhousaurus sinensis, a cousin of Tyrannosaur rex whose whose long snout earned it the nickname “Pinocchio rex.” READ MORE

Mystery Booms Plaguing California Residents Finally Have a Source

Science World Report

Originally Posted: August 8, 2015

Mysterious booms have plagued the residents of El Dorado County in California for some time now. While some have speculated what the cause of these booms has been, it’s remained a mystery until now.
Like Us on Facebook

Residents have reported that the booms aren’t as crisp as a gunshot, and instead sound more like an aerial bomb. A few have speculated that it could be the result of work occurring in an underground mine. READ MORE