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Paleontology/Geobiology News Archive


New research points to an explosion of color in early paravians and maniraptors, but the research also suggests the genes that control the colors of skin, hair and feathers are part of the body’s melanocortin system, which also influences metabolism, inflammation and sexual function. “We hypothesize,” says Clarke, “that what we’re seeing is a big…

New research that revises recently established conventions allowing scientists to decipher color in dinosaurs may also provide a tool for understanding the evolutionary emergence of flight and changes in dinosaur physiology prior to the origin of flight. In a survey comparing the hair, skin, fuzz and feathers of living terrestrial vertebrates and fossil specimens, a…

Growing up amid the crisp, cold landscape of the Canadian Rockies, Rowan Martindale’s family liked to vacation in tropical environs with warm waters. As a result, the high-country farm girl learned to snorkel and scuba dive and explored coral reefs at an early age. Now, through her studies of ancient reefs, Martindale, an assistant professor…

Sediment behind milldams in Pennsylvania preserved leaves deposited just before European contact that provide a glimpse of the ancient forests, according to a team of geoscientists, who note that neither the forests nor the streams were what they are today. “Milldams were built from the late 1600s to the late 1800s in Pennsylvania and other…

Michelle Stocker (PhD ’13), former graduate student in The University of Texas at Austin’s Jackson School of Geosciences, has dramatically rearranged the evolutionary tree for several extinct crocodile-like animals that lived over 200 million years ago in present day Texas, Wyoming and Germany. Based on this new understanding, she has renamed one of the specimens…

The Miracle of Flight

Nobody had any idea just how gigantic a pterosaur could be until the spring of 1971. Douglas A. Lawson, MA ’72, was a 22-year-old graduate student in geology that year working under the supervision of professor Wann Langston. Lawson announced the discovery of his pterosaur in a 1975 article in Science. In that pre-Jurassic Park era, when…

Professor Jim Sprinkle Retires

Jim Sprinkle, First Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Yager Professor in the Department of Geological Sciences, has retired after 42 years of teaching and conducting research at the University. A celebration in his honor is being planned for Friday, November 15. His research focused on Paleozoic marine communities and especially on early (and now mostly…

Colleagues and former students of Wann Langston Jr., an internationally renowned vertebrate paleontologist at the University of Texas at Austin who died in April 2013, have produced a special volume honoring his many decades of work collecting, preparing and describing ancient reptiles. The collection of articles appeared online in September and October and will be…

This Article reprinted from the website Domain-b. The oldest genome so far from a prehistoric creature has been sequenced by an international team, led by scientists from the Natural History Museum of Denmark (University of Copenhagen). The team, which included recent Jackson School postdoctoral fellow Jakob Vinther of the University of Bristol, sequenced and analysed short…

Memorial: Wann Langston, Jr.

It is with deep regret that I write to confirm that Dr. Wann Langston, Jr. passed away late on Sunday, April 7, 2013. He succumbed following a protracted battle with cancer, but he was surrounded by his children and very much at peace in his last months. Wann’s lifelong fascination with fossils spans nearly nine…

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