Date: Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Location: MUN Engineering Building - EN 2006
Presenter: Dr. Phil Manning
21st Century Dinosaurs from Hell….Creek!
The Hell Creek Formation (Late Cretaceous) consists a productive succession of sediments that contain the fossil remains of dinosaurs and their contemporary fauna/flora. A recently discovered multi-taxa site in South Dakota is yielding vertebrate (dinosaur, bird, mammal, fish, crocodilian and turtle) and invertebrate material (arthropod cuticle, feeding traces, etc.) and a diverse flora (including seeds, leaves and amber), and is knee-deep in dinosaurs! The traditional approach to excavating such sites often overlooks key chemical information that is present in both enclosing sediments and fossil remains. The easily comprehended physical fossil often takes precedent over the less visible 'chemical fossil'. However, it is the latter that might hold the key to the reason behind the organism being fossilised in the first instance.
The application of synchrotron-based analyses at SSRL have already proven very successful when distilling crucial information that allows interpretation of the burial history (taphonomy) of fossils; including iconic fossils such as Archaeopteryx, Confuciusornis and the mummified skin from a hadrosaur dinosaur. This is where the worlds of particle physics and palaeontology meet…this might sound a little crazy, but the realities are scientifically and aesthetically beautiful!