A professor in Dedman College‘s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Jacobs introduces the “We Are SVP” video. An internationally known vertebrate paleontologist, he is a former president of the society.
The video features many other respected paleontologists from around the world, all of them talking about the work they do and its importance to science and society. The goal of the video is to educate students, teachers and the public about vertebrate paleontologists and the importance of their work.
“Because we study fossils, especially dinosaurs, we capture the imagination of children, and that makes vertebrate paleontology a gateway for all science,” Jacobs says in the video.
Also appearing is SMU geology student and SMU President’s Scholar Karen Gutierrez.
The society’s 2,300 members in 54 countries are scientists who study fossils of animals with backbones and complex brains, including dinosaurs.
Vertebrate paleontology’s findings provide the evidence for environmental change and contribute to understanding everything from climate change and evolution to ecology.
“Our field expeditions and our laboratory work provide the evidence for environmental change, including its most serious consequence — extinction,” Jacobs says in the video.
Jacobs joined SMU’s faculty in 1983. Currently he has projects in Mongolia, Angola and Antarctica.
His book, “Lone Star Dinosaurs” (1999, Texas A&M University Press) was the basis of an exhibit at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History that traveled the state. He is consulting on a new exhibit, Mysteries of the Texas Dinosaurs, which is set to open in the fall of 2009.
Jacobs is also known for his work documenting changes in fossil mammals in Pakistan, which helps scholars correlate climatic changes with evolutionary changes seen in animals, and which helps calibrate the rate of DNA evolution in mammals. He’s also credited for discovery of what’s now known as Malawisaurus, a plant-eating dinosaur that lived in Malawi, Africa, 115 million years ago.
The SVP video is narrated by “Law & Order” television star Sam Waterston. The video was produced by longtime New York theater producer Steve Cohen. Executive producer was Ray Marr of Shade Tree Studios in Dallas. Portions of the video were shot at the Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas.