Science reporter Danny Lewis with Smithsonian covered the research of SMU planetary scientist and research assistant professor Matthew Siegler and a team of scientists who discovered the moon wandered off its axis billions of years ago due to a shift in its mass most likely caused by volcanic activity. The article, "Ancient Volcanoes May Have Shifted the Moon’s Poles," published March 24. A report on the discovery of the rare event was published today in Nature: that Earth’s moon slowly moved from its original axis roughly 3 billion years ago.
Ancient lunar ice indicates the moon’s axis slowly shifted by 125 miles, or 6 degrees, over 1 billion years. Earth’s moon is now a member of solar system’s exclusive “true polar wander” club, which includes just a handful of other planetary bodies. Planetary scientist Matt Siegler at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and colleagues made the discovery while examining NASA data known to indicate lunar polar hydrogen.
Long-term daily contact with Spanish missions triggered collapse of Native American populations in New Mexico
New research in the Southwest U.S. has resolved long-standing debates on the timing and magnitude of American Indian population collapse in the region. The severe and rapid collapse of Native American populations in what is now New Mexico didn’t happen upon first contact with Spanish conquistadors in the 1500s. Nor was it as gradual as others had contended.
SMU scientists and their research have a global reach that is frequently noted, beyond peer publications and media mentions. It was a good year for SMU faculty and student research efforts. Here's a small sampling of public and published acknowledgements during 2015, ranging from research modeling that made the cover of a scientific journal to research findings presented as evidence at government hearings.
Science Insider, the online news site for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, quoted SMU seismologist Brian Stump, saying seismic data confirms that an earthquake in North Korea was triggered by an explosion there Jan. 5. Richard Stone, who covers international news for Science quoted Stump in the Jan. 6 article, "Does North Korea really have an H-bomb?"
Science writer Laura Geggel with Live Science named a new species of extinct marine mammal identified by two SMU paleontologists among "The 10 Strangest Animal Discoveries of 2015." The new species was identified by SMU paleontologist Louis L. Jacobs, a professor in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and paleontologist and SMU adjunct research professor Anthony Fiorillo, vice president of research and collections and chief curator at the Perot Museum of Nature and Science.
Science journalist Anna Kuchment with The Dallas Morning News covered the comments of SMU seismologists Heather DeShon and Beatrice Magnani speaking during the annual American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, Calif. DeShon and Magnani presented their latest research on North Texas ground shaking.
A new species of toothy pterosaur is a native of Texas whose closest relative is from England. The new 94-million-year-old species, named Cimoliopterus dunni, is strikingly similar to England’s Cimoliopterus cuvieri. Identification of the new flying reptile links prehistoric Texas to England, says SMU paleontologist Timothy S. Myers, who identified the fossil as a new species.