Earth Sciences in Angola

A graduate student and a postdoctoral researcher in SMU’s Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences, along with Professor Louis L. Jacobs, are conducting research in Angola in southern Africa during summer 2012. They are members of an international scientific program called the PaleoAngola Project, which seeks to discover and study Angola’s vertebrate paleontology and learn about the environment in which prehistoric creatures lived. Readers also can follow their work at

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Filling in the blanks

An update from Scott and Ricardo:

Ricardo buying bananas at a roadside stand to replace the provisions eaten by the rats.

We started out this morning with an unexpected surprise. Last night we were so tired when we returned to our rooms at Futila Beach that we forgot to remove the day’s lunch leftovers from the truck. This morning, when we loaded our gear into the vehicle, we found that the food had been discovered by some industrious rodents that had plowed through several bananas and empty sardine tins. To repay our generosity, the rats left us little brown “presents” all over the seats and floorboards.

After cleaning out the truck, we drove to Malembo and hiked down to the beach. Malembo Point is the fossil locality where Dartevelle and others collected several ancient mammal teeth, and where we have also found important fossils in previous years. The stratigraphic sequence just to the north of this area is impossible to measure since the rock exposures are covered by jungle.

Ideally, the rock record would provide us an entire ‘book’ so we could easily read the Earth’s geologic history. Unfortunately, this book is always missing a few pages, so we have to read what we can and try to interpolate the missing parts. Today, we measured the rocks between Malembo Point and the mouth of the Sapho River, filling in a little more missing information about Cabinda’s geologic evolution.

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