Earth Sciences Faculty Remember Star Pupil and Friend Lü Junchang

Dedman College News Originally Posted: December 12, 2018 Faculty in the Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences were stunned by the sudden death in October of Lü Junchang, one of China’s leading dinosaur experts and a beloved former student who received his Ph.D from SMU in 2004. Writing about his death in Scientific American, writer Richard Coniff called him one of the most important dinosaur researchers in the past half-century. Junchang, 53, was a researcher at the Institute of Geology at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences in Beijing.  Paleontologist Stephen Brusatte, in his 2018 book, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, described Junchang as having curiously accented English because of his Chinese cadence and the Texas drawl he picked up as a graduate student at [...]

By | 2018-12-12T11:11:33+00:00 December 12th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences|Comments Off on Earth Sciences Faculty Remember Star Pupil and Friend Lü Junchang

Ever Wonder how Exhibits are Made? Here’s Your Answer

Smithsonian.com Originally Posted: December 7, 2018 On a slow November afternoon at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, exhibit writer Juliana Olsson and intern Myria Perez slipped behind a temporary barrier to sneak a peek at “Sea Monsters Unearthed,” the museum’s newest exhibit scheduled to open the next morning. With the quiet, dramatically-lit space all to themselves, the two reminisced on the years of work that led to this moment. Juliana: A lot of people go through a dinosaur phase as kids, but I think we can safely say that neither of us grew out of it. What was your paleontology journey? Myria: I was definitely that kid. My mom would take me to the Houston Museum of Natural Science growing up, and my favorite part was the paleontology [...]

By | 2018-12-07T11:55:15+00:00 December 7th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Faculty News|Comments Off on Ever Wonder how Exhibits are Made? Here’s Your Answer

Fossils From Angola Bring Strange Yet Familiar Ocean into View

VOA Originally Posted: November 26, 2018   Some may be familiar with mythical sea monsters. For example, Scotland’s infamous Loch Ness Monster “Nessie,” and Giganto -- fictional beasts of comic book fame. But millions of years ago, real-life sea monsters lived and thrived in what we now call the South Atlantic Ocean. South Atlantic Ocean basin As the continents of South America and Africa separated millions of years ago, scientists say a fantastic array of ferocious predators and other lifeforms colonized the newly formed body of water off the coast of Angola. That diverse collection of marine reptiles included mosasaurs (aquatic lizards), plesiosaurs (which exhibited broad flat bodies, large paddlelike limbs, and typically a long flexible neck and small head), and the more familiar giant [...]

By | 2018-11-27T10:03:37+00:00 November 29th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Events, Faculty News, Undergraduate News|Comments Off on Fossils From Angola Bring Strange Yet Familiar Ocean into View

Workers find Ice Age-era bones, fossils at DFW Airport

Star Telegram Originally Posted: Nov. 13, 2018   Fossils that are thousands of years old were found at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport earlier this month. In fact, they’re about 11,000 years old and are the only remains dating to the Ice Age that have been found at the airport. The airport announced the findings on Twitter Tuesday afternoon, though the fossils were found on Nov. 2 and 3. “Two employees in DFW’s Environmental Affairs Department found the pieces of the mammoth tooth while conducting routine field tests for potential impacts to the environment,” a spokesperson for the airport said in an email to the Star-Telegram. A bison thigh bone was found during an annual safety/Life Saver Exercise. Dale A. Winkler, of the Department of Earth [...]

By | 2018-11-21T07:07:17+00:00 November 23rd, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Faculty News|Comments Off on Workers find Ice Age-era bones, fossils at DFW Airport

How an SMU dinosaur hunter’s 72-million-year-old sea monster got to the Smithsonian

Dallas Morning News Originally Posted: November 14, 2018 Three weeks before his team's fossil finds go on display at one of the world's most famous natural history museums, Louis Jacobs stands in a basement lab at Southern Methodist University sanding the lower jaw of a 72-million-year-old sea monster. His colleague Michael Polcyn sits nearby, dabbing sealant on a model of the animal's upper jaw and skull. White dust hovers in the air. Plaster tailbones, skulls and teeth top every counter. This is the sort of work — preparing models and fossils — that Jacobs had done early in his career, before he became a professor, before he hunted for fossils in Alaska, Antarctica, Malawi, Cameroon and Texas; before he dug up the bones of dinosaurs [...]

By | 2018-11-14T18:23:37+00:00 November 15th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Events, Faculty News|Comments Off on How an SMU dinosaur hunter’s 72-million-year-old sea monster got to the Smithsonian

Listen: Scientists Unveil Ancient Sea Monsters Found In Angola

NPR Originally Posted: November 8, 2018 When the South Atlantic Ocean was young, sea monsters ruled it. Some of their bones have turned up along the coast of West Africa and are going on exhibit Friday at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. They tell a story of the bloody birth of an ocean. The fossils of giant swimming reptiles called mosasaurs have been found in the rocky cliffs of Angola, overlooking the Atlantic. It's not a country known for fossils. Few scientists have looked there — half a century of civil war made it too dangerous. But geologically, Angola is special. About 200 million years ago, Africa was part of the supercontinent Gondwana. Then, about 135 million years ago, that continent started unzipping down [...]

By | 2018-11-08T06:51:27+00:00 November 8th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Faculty News|Comments Off on Listen: Scientists Unveil Ancient Sea Monsters Found In Angola

12 things to do in the D.C. area this week

Washington Post Originally Posted: November 5, 2018 New exhibit, with SMU ties, opens at the National Museum of Natural History this week in Washington, D.C. Excerpt below. ‘Sea Monsters Unearthed’ at National Museum of Natural History: Go back in time millions of years to the era of mosasaurs, also known as giant marine lizards (or, yes, sea monsters). The National Museum of Natural History’s new Sant Ocean Hall exhibit, called “Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas,” reveals fossils of colossal Cretaceous marine reptiles on public display for the first time. The waters along Africa’s southwest coast once teemed with the ferocious predators and other sea life, and the museum is showing off animations, murals and full-scale reconstructions of these creatures from the ancient [...]

By | 2018-11-05T10:04:07+00:00 November 5th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Events, Faculty News, Undergraduate News|Comments Off on 12 things to do in the D.C. area this week

Save the date: Nov. 9 ‘Sea Monsters Unearthed’

Washington Post Originally Posted: Oct. 18, 2018 Nov. 9 - Through 2020. The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, located at 10th Street and Constitution Avenue NW, will run an exhibit ‘Sea Monsters Unearthed.’ SMU faculty and students have contributed to the exhibit. Go back in time millions of years to the era of mosasaurs, also known as giant marine lizards (or, yes, sea monsters). The National Museum of Natural History’s new Sant Ocean Hall exhibit, called “Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas,” reveals fossils of colossal Cretaceous marine reptiles on public display for the first time. The waters along Africa’s southwest coast once teemed with the ferocious predators and other sea life, and the museum is showing off animations, murals and full-scale reconstructions [...]

By | 2018-10-26T11:04:32+00:00 October 25th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Faculty News|Comments Off on Save the date: Nov. 9 ‘Sea Monsters Unearthed’

New Smithsonian Exhibit Reflects the Passion of SMU Professor and an Army of Student Fossil Hounds

SMU News Originally Posted: October 15, 2018 Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas opens Nov. 9 at National Museum of Natural History Once the exhibit opens, “Sea Monsters Unearthed: Life in Angola’s Ancient Seas” will allow visitors to visually dive into the cool waters off the coast of West Africa as they existed millions of years ago when the continents of Africa and South America were drifting apart. It’s a unique opportunity to examine fossils of ancient marine reptiles and learn about the forces that continue to mold life both in out of the ocean. But the back story is just as fascinating: SMU Emeritus Professor of Paleontology Louis Jacobs and his SMU colleague Michael Polcyn forged a partnership with collaborators in Angola, [...]

By | 2018-10-17T09:52:32+00:00 October 17th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Events, Faculty News, Graduate News, Undergraduate News|Comments Off on New Smithsonian Exhibit Reflects the Passion of SMU Professor and an Army of Student Fossil Hounds

Q&A: Sea Monsters in Our Ancient Oceans Were Strangely Familiar

Smithsonian Magazine Originally Posted: September 18, 2018 Between 1961 and 2002, Angola was virtually inaccessible to scientists while the country struggled with war and civil unrest. Now, sixteen years after peace was achieved, never-before-seen fossils excavated from Angola’s coast will be on display in a new exhibit, called “Sea Monsters Unearthed,” which will debut at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History on November 9. In 2005, Louis Jacobs and Michael Polcyn, paleontologists at Southern Methodist University and collaborators on the exhibition, led the first major expedition in Angola since the acceptance of the plate tectonics theory in the mid-1960s. Dubbed Projecto PaleoAngola, the expedition looked to study the effects of the opening of the South Atlantic Ocean on life over the last 130 million [...]

By | 2018-09-18T10:17:12+00:00 September 18th, 2018|Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, Dedman College Research, Earth Sciences, Faculty News|Comments Off on Q&A: Sea Monsters in Our Ancient Oceans Were Strangely Familiar
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