University of California Museum of Paleontology UCMP in the field See the world (and its fossils) with UCMP's field notes.
About UCMP People Blog Online Exhibits Public programs Education Collections Research
About UCMP : News and events

2005 news archive

News archived from:
2003 | 2004 | 2005 | 2006 | 2007
2008 | 2009

Valentine, Jablonski and Roy Receive Grant from NASA
A long-term research program involving Dave Jablonski from U. Chicago, Kaustuv Roy from UCSD, and Jim Valentine from UCMP, has been funded for three more years by NASA, at $394,444. This research centers on exploring the evolutionary dynamics of planetary biodiversity gradients, which involves using the fossil record to understand patterns of clade origination, extinction, and migration, chiefly in marine groups on our planet. (September 27, 2005)

The New Understanding Evolution Website
On September 15, the UCMP launched a major expansion to the Understanding Evolution website ( The initial Understanding Evolution site was intended for teachers, but with this update the target audience is now everyone interested in learning about evolution. The site has numerous new feature articles, highlighting many aspects of evolution science, presented as interactive investigations, research profiles, evolution news (updated monthly), and even a comic strip. All of the site's information is now accessible via a browsable topic directory, which will grow as new topics and resources are added. (September 16, 2005)

UCMP Short Course on TV
The speaker presentations from the UCMP short course will be broadcast on UCTV at the following dates/times: Faulting California -- Tues, Sept 6 and Thurs Sept 22 at 4PM; California Dinosaurs and the Environments in Which They Lived -- Thurs Sept 8 and Tues Sept 27 at 4PM; California's Sharks: Past and Present -- Tues Sept 13 & Thur Sept 29 at 4PM; Yosemite Revisited: Distributional Shifts of California's Terrestrial Vertebrates -- Thurs Sept 15 at 4PM; California's Coast Redwood and the Land-Sea Connection -- Tues Sept 20 at 4PM. (September 01, 2005)

UCMP MIOMAP Website Featured in the July 22 Issue of Science's Netwatch
MIOMAP is an on-line research database of Oligocene and Miocene mammal occurrences and related information that facilitates a host of paleoecological and evolutionary research. It was created by UCMP researchers Marc Carrasco, Tony Barnosky, Edward Davis, and Brian Kraatz. (August 25, 2005)

Fossils, Medieval Tradition and Extinction
Earlier this year, a Report published in the journal Science argued that estimating the survival of texts from Antiquity to our own time could be accomplished in a "paleodemographic" approach with manuscripts treated as if they were fossil data. UCMP graduate student Nick Pyenson, along with Lewis Pyenson (University of Louisiana at Lafayette), evaluate the comparison of books and fossils and argue for a broader approach to the evolutionary study of cultural artifacts. Check out the Letters to the Editor in this week's issue of Science. (August 01, 2005)

Follow Along Online As The San Jose Mammoth Is Excavated By UCMP
On July 9, Roger Castillo was walking his dog along a levee next to the Guadalupe River, just north of West Trimble Road and the Mineta San Jose Airport. While investigating an eroded drainage ditch, Castillo discovered what were clearly some large bones poking through the sandy clay. Calls to the Santa Clara Valley Water District and local universities led to a surge of media coverage, public interest, and UCMP involvement. UCMP assistant director Mark Goodwin visited the site on July 13, and identified the bones as those of a Columbian mammoth, an elephant relative that lived in the Bay Area during the Pleistocene. Over the next few weeks, Goodwin and UCMP graduate students will excavate the mammoth remains and take them back to the museum for preparation. UCMP's public outreach component now includes a new website dedicated to documenting the mammoth's progress, with text and photos updated daily. (July 19, 2005)

Paleo Portal Honored
The Paleontology Portal received honors as the Best Website for 2005 designated by the Geoscience Information Society. This year, there were two winners, one for the general public and the other for academia. Paleo Portal, won for the best academic website. On behalf of the entire Paleo Portal team, David Lindberg and Judy Scotchmoor will be accepting the award at the GSIS luncheon held in October at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America. (June 30, 2005)

Revueltosaurus Skeleton Upsets Dinosaur Tale
Research by a team including UC Museum of Paleontology graduate student Randall Irmis and alumnus Sterling Nesbitt, has shown that Revueltosaurus callenderi, a Triassic animal thought to be an early ornithischian dinosaur, is instead an early relative of crocodilians. Revueltosaurus was previously only known from teeth. The Revueltosaurus skeleton found at the Petrified National Forest in Arizona last year, implies that other Triassic "ornithischian" teeth are also not dinosaurian, and that there are no known Triassic ornithischian dinosaurs from outside of South America. This suggests that meat-eating dinosaurs like T. rex diversified much earlier than the ornithischians, which later evolved into dinosaurs such as Stegosaurus and Triceratops. (June 24, 2005)

Earthquake off California Coast Renews Interest in Lipps's Microfossil Research
The recent earthquake off the coast of northern California prompted a brief tsunami warning. It also renewed interest in UC Museum of Paleontology faculty curator Jere Lipps's work on seismic and tsunami histories using microfossils on the Cascadia Subduction Zone. Lipps' and colleagues paper has just been published in the Geological Society of America Bulletin (July, v. 117: 996-1008) and was reported on in national newspapers. It was also selected as Editor's Choice by Science Magazine. (June 20, 2005)

Recent Paper Adds to Evidence Suggesting Procolophonids Were Successful and Diverse
Procolophonids were a group of basal amniotes known from the Late Permian and Triassic Periods, with a body plan similar to lizards. Randy Irmis, a UC Museum of Paleontology graduate student, co-authored a paper describing the first relatively complete skull of a procolophonid from the western United States. The skull showed that it is closely related to procolophonids known from the same time in eastern North America and Europe, adding to the evidence that procolophonids were a successful and diverse group up until the end of the Triassic Period. The paper was published in the Palaeontologia Electronica. (June 20, 2005)

Lynch Receives Grant from The Genetic Resources Conservation Program
Sharon Lynch, manager of the UC Museum of Paleontology's Molecular Phylogenetics Lab, was recently awarded an Imperilled Collection Grant from the University of California's Genetic Resources Conservation Program. The grant will allow Sharon to catalog and preserve the museum's collection of approximately 1,400 sponges collected by museum alumnus Scott Nichols. (June 08, 2005)

Lee and Wedel Awarded Grants from the Jurassic Foundation
UC Museum of Paleontology graduate students Matt Wedel and Drew Lee received separate grants from the Jurassic Foundation. The grant will allow Matt to continue his research on skeletal pneumaticity in dinosaurs and birds. Drew will use his award to fund his research on histological differences in the limb bones of bipdeal and quadrupedal dinosaurs. (June 08, 2005)

Goodwin's Research Featured in American Museum of Natural History's New Exhibit
Dinosaurs: Ancient Fossils, New Discoveries opened this month at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. One of the exhibits features pachycephalosaur cranial histology and new interpretations regarding head-butting behavior, based on recent research by UC Museum of Paleontology assistant director Mark Goodwin and paleontologist John Horner. (June 08, 2005)

The ‘Decapitation’ of the Turtle, Osteopygis
For over 135 years, paleontologists considered Osteopygis from the Late Cretaceous of New Jersey to be an early, enigmatic, fossil sea turtle. UC Museum of Paleontology postdoc Jim Parham reviewed the morphology of specimens attributed to Osteopygis. Jim showed how these specimens were collected and associated to conclude that the referral of sea turtle skulls to the genus Osteopygis was a mistake. This 'decapitation' of Osteopygis has a major impact on our understanding of evolutionary trends within early sea turtles as well as their taxonomy. The paper was recently published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, 25(1):71-77. (April 12, 2005)

Evolutionary History and Climate Preference in Marmots
Marmots are large, social rodents that hibernate in winter and may be sensitive to climate change. Using range maps and climate data, UC Museum of Paleontology graduate student Edward Davis, determined what climates different species of marmots prefer. By comparing preferred climates to evolutionary relatedness, Edward found that closely related species tend to prefer similar climates. This suggests that closely related species of marmots may react in similar ways to climate changes, so conservation efforts can be better informed by studying relatives of endangered species. Edward published his research in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B, 272:519-526. (April 12, 2005)

The UC Museum of Paleontology Hosts the Geoscience Outreach Workshop
The UC Museum of Paleontology and the Digital Library for Earth System Education are pleased to host the Geoscience Outreach Workshop, an NSF-sponsored Workshop on Geoscience Outreach to be held May 11-13 in Berkeley, California. The purpose of the workshop is to identify patterns of success, needs, and challenges of the geoscience research community in satisfying the Criterion 2 - Broader Impact requirement. (April 12, 2005)

Underwater bipedal locomotion by octopuses in disguise
Octopuses walk bipedally, allowing them to move quickly along the bottom but remain camouflaged. This is the first bipedal locomotion that does not use the support of a rigid skeleton, and it might happen without direct feedback from the brain. It is described in a recent issue of Science by UC Museum of Paleontology student Crissy Huffard, Bob Full in Integrative Biology and Farnis Boneka at Universitas Sam Ratulangi in Indonesia. (March 24, 2005)

Assessing Coral Reef Rehabilitation Following Blast Fishing
UC Museum of Paleontology Interim Director Roy Caldwell and fellow researchers used field experiments in Indonesia to assess the effectiveness of several coral reef rehabilitation methods in Indonesia. The results of their research have been published in a recent volume of Conservation Biology 19:98-107. (February 08, 2005)

Tsunamis on the West Coast? Fossils Say Yes.
Microfossils in cores taken in marshes and mangroves along the coast from southern Mexico to Alaska and in New Zealand indicate that both megathrust earthquakes and tsunamis have hit along the subduction zones several times in the past few thousand years. A group of paleontologists under the direction of UC Museum of Paleontology faculty curator Jere Lipps, found seismic and tsunami signals in Alaskan, Oregon, and Mexican sites dating back about 3000 years. A paper describing their research will be published in the May/June 2005 issue of the Geological Society of America Bulletin. (January 24, 2005)

Hickman to Serve as President of American Microscopical Society
The American Microscopial Society has elected UC Museum of Paleontology curator Carole Hickman to serve as President Elect during 2005, President in 2006, and Past President in 2008. (January 12, 2005)

Phalangeal Patterns in Land Tortoises
A new paper written by UC Museum of Paleontology visiting scholar Chuck Crumly documents the relationship between variability in size, phylogenetic position, and the number of phalanges in the manus of land tortoises (Testudinidae). This study, an examination of 'patterns of phenotypic evolution', provides an example of how developmental mechanisms can affect evolutionary change. The paper was published in the Journal of Experimental Zoology 302B:134-146 (2004). (January 12, 2005)