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

Archive for the ‘UCMP events’ Category.

UCMP science casual: Dinosaur NightLife at the California Academy of Sciences

Imagine over 3,000 adults in San Francisco’s California Academy of Sciences (Cal Academy) for a night of fun special exhibits, drinks, and a serious science social. Now imagine it every Thursday. On July 23rd a dinosaur-themed Cal Academy NightLife event called upon volunteers from UCMP to showcase and explain the mysteries of these monsters beside their contemporary chews.

The NightLife also featured a tour of Cal Academy’s library archives about the historic “Bone Wars” between Victorian paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope and a showing of the 1993 classic Jurassic Park in the Tusher African Hall. Indeed, there was something uncannily familiar about watching the Dilophosaurus scene from Jurassic Park amongst stuffed African lions and cheetahs, who had also certainly taken their fair share of prey during life.

The event runs every Thursday from 6-10pm and requires a 21+ photo ID for entry. Stay tuned for the next time UCMP crosses the bay for another paleo-themed NightLife gathering!

UCMP participates in the Bay Area Science Festival for fourth straight year

On November 1, UCMP participated in Discovery Days at AT&T Park, the closing event of the annual Bay Area Science Festival. The museum has been a Science@Cal exhibitor at the Festival for four years running. This year, over 30,000 people enjoyed 200 free activities and exhibits at the Festival, a “science extravaganza.” The Festival is meant to entertain and inspire; it’s where visitors can unleash their inner scientist.

BASF 2014 photo

Museum Scientist Erica Clites and undergraduate volunteer Dianne Quiroz (pictured) staffed the UCMP table during Discovery Days at AT&T Park. Photo by Erica Clites.

UCMP expands its Homecoming Weekend program

In previous years, UCMP’s involvement with UC Berkeley’s Homecoming Weekend was limited to a single tour of the collections (normally closed to the public), but this year, the museum decided to expand on that and offer something a little different for its Friends and donors.

On Friday, October 10, Assistant Director for Collections and Research Mark Goodwin started things off with his annual tour of the collections, but that was followed by an afternoon lecture by UCMP Curator and Integrative Biology Professor Tony Barnosky on “Dodging Extinction,” based on his new book of the same name. Barnosky’s book addresses the looming Sixth Mass Extinction and what we can do to prevent it.

The big weekend event was an invitation-only “Night at the Museum” for Friends and donors organized by Assistant Director for Education and Outreach Lisa White. Guests enjoyed food, wine, and cocktails (with such names as “Mammoth Mojito” and “The Trilobite”) while listening to introductory comments by UCMP Director Charles Marshall, Vice Chancellor for Research Graham Fleming, and Dean of the College of Letters & Science G. Steven Martin in the Valley Life Sciences Building’s Wallace Atrium.

The guests were split into smaller groups and led into the museum’s collections where a number of stations were set up, each highlighting the research of select UCMP students, staff, and Curators. The plan was for each group to spend about eight minutes at each station before moving on to the next, but they became so absorbed with the presentations that they were reluctant to leave; therefore, the time spent at each station was extended to about 15 minutes. Because of this, the event, which should have ended shortly after 8:00, ran closer to 9:30 pm. But as far as we could tell, our guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves and UCMP intends to sponsor more special events during future Homecoming Weekends at Cal.

A few photos from the evening’s special event, all taken by Lucy Chang, follow.


UCMP Director Charles Marshall (beneath the T. rex’s ribcage) addresses the gathered guests and members of the UCMP community.


Grad student Jeff Benca explains how he’s looking at modern plants and pollen to answer questions about the end-Permian extinction, the largest mass extinction in the Earth’s history.


Assistant Director for Collections and Research Mark Goodwin discusses bone structure and growth in the horns and skull of Triceratops.


Recent graduate Sarah Tulga describes her work with fossil vertebrates that lived alongside the earliest dinosaurs in the Triassic period.


Grad student Sara ElShafie is interested in documenting changes in the growth rates of both extinct and living herpetofaunas (reptiles & amphibians) in response to climate change.


Grad student Lindsey Dougherty explains her work with Ctenoides ales, the so-called “disco clam.” See the blog post about Lindsey and the clam’s flashing behavior.

Diane and Zixiang

On the left, Senior Museum Scientist Diane Erwin talks about a UCMP collection of fossil insects. At right, first-year grad student Zixiang Zhang discusses the differences between the skulls of saber-toothed cats and modern lions.

UCMP hosts phylogenies and fossils workshop

On September 23-25, 2013, the UCMP hosted a workshop on Integrating Molecular Phylogenies and the Fossil Record supported by the France-Berkeley Fund. Led by UCMP Director Charles Marshall and Hélène Morlon from École Polytechnique in France, the workshop brought together leading researchers who are developing methods for inferring diversity dynamics using molecular phylogenies or fossil data. The gathering of approximately 25 people included UC Berkeley faculty and UCMP graduate students and provided an opportunity to integrate both sources of information in a common framework.

An evening with Neil Shubin

UCMP has partnered with the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco's Arts & Ideas series to present a lecture by Neil Shubin on Wednesday, January 16.

Paleontologist and evolutionary biologist Neil Shubin is famed for discovering the fossilized Tiktaalik roseae, the missing link between ancient sea creatures and land dwellers. His bestselling book, Your Inner Fish, shows parallels between human anatomy and the structures of the fish that first wriggled landward 375 million years ago. In his new book, The Universe Within, he goes one step further, explaining how the universe’s 14-billion-year history is reflected in our bodies, right down to our molecules. Neil Shubin is a professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. Academy Fellows are a distinguished group of eminent scientists recognized for notable contributions to one or more of the natural sciences.

Get more event/ticket information.

A special night at UCMP

Cal Day is the one day of the year when lucky members of the public can tour UCMP's collection. But this year, on the night before Cal Day, UCMP hosted a special event to take some of our closest friends behind the scenes.

Excitement is in the air. Also, a T. rex tail!


This invitation-only event included sneak previews of Cal Day exhibits, tours of the collection, the paleo art of William Gordan Huff, and fossils recovered during the construction of the Caldecott Tunnel's fourth bore.

UCMP-affiliated faculty curators, scientists, students, and educators were on hand to present a night that our guests won't soon forget. After some mingling and introductory remarks from Director Charles Marshall our visitors were whisked into the collection to enjoy a glimpse of the exciting work happening at UCMP.


Charles in action.


Ken Finger serves up some local fossils, fresh from the Caldecott Tunnel site.


Renske Kirchholtes and Robert Stevenson explain the story of Metasequioa to our guests.


Theresa Grieco showed off monkey fossils and talked about her upcoming trip to Olduvai Gorge (photo by Silvia Spiva).


Pat Holroyd revealed some of the hidden treasures of UCMP being uncovered thanks to our latest archiving grant.


Dave Lindberg neatly demonstrated how our vast collection provides an essential historic baseline for the natural history of California.


Anna Thanukos took visitors beyond the collection through the museum's many education and outreach projects.


Ash Poust dazzled onlookers with phytosaurs, pareiasaurs, and other impressive fossils from our broad collection.


Brian Swartz led the group from the sea to dry land with close-up looks at some of our fishy ancestors.


Diane Erwin pieced together a climate change puzzle using UCMP's California plant fossils.


This exciting, unique UCMP experience produced many smiles and set the tone for the Cal Day to come.

For more photos from the evening see this album on Facebook.

Find out how to become a Friend of UCMP.

Paleo-cartoonist Hannah Bonner visits Berkeley

Writer and illustrator Hannah Bonner paid a visit to Berkeley on January 11 to discuss the scientific and creative processes behind her series of paleontology books for children.

Born in and based out of Mallorca, Spain, Bonner received a degree in art and has since worked primarily as a freelance artist and illustrator. Her credits include creating artwork for Scholastic, WGBH, and the Smithsonian Institute. At the latter she met her UCMP host, Cindy Looy, who, along with Ivo Duijnstee, subsequently served as advisers for Bonner's reconstructions illustrating the biotic recovery following end-Permian extinction.

Bonner's interest in combining paleontology and art began when a friend asked her to draw a reconstruction of a fossil dwarfed goat from Mediterranean islands. She then partnered with National Geographic Children's Books to create a series of books focused on making the lesser known facets of ancient life -- giant insects, coal swamps, the transition to land of both plants and animals, and more -- accessible to children and adults alike.

Bonner's colorfully illustrated and intricately detailed books depict characters in all forms of terrestrial and marine life, spanning five geologic periods, including two mass extinctions. Her latest book, "When Dinos Dawned, Mammals Got Munched, and Pterosaurs Took Flight," to be released April 2012, tells the history of life starting with the recovery from the end-Permian mass extinction and concludes with the end-Triassic mass extinction.

Bonner's talk featured personal anecdotes from the creative and editing work that went into the final product, the struggles involved with accurately communicating the science and depicting paleoenvironments, and behind-the-scenes looks into the illustration process. Primarily an illustrator, Bonner comments that making the leap to writing for her books was easy with this subject matter because, as she states, "the plot is already written in stone."

To find out more about her books, click here.

Scans of artwork provided by Hannah Bonner.

UCMP at the Bay Area Science Festival

UCMP joined the other Berkeley Natural History Museums, the Space Science Lab, Departments of Physics and Chemistry, SynBERG, nanotechnology experts, and a host of other science units as part of the campus-wide participation in the first annual Bay Area Science Festival – a 10 day celebration of science extending from San Jose to Santa Rosa!

Dave Lindberg gave a great talk on The History of Kelp Forests: Global and Local Surprises at the November East Bay Science Café and Rosemary Romero and Jenna Judge intrigued the huge crowds at the "fossil booth" at the culminating festival event at AT&T Park last Sunday! At last, it was revealed who lived there before the San Francisco Giants!

Under the umbrella of Science@Cal these were just two of numerous activities to engage the public of all ages and to share the value of science research at Cal. Read more on the Science@Cal site.

Science@Cal efforts were also a little outside of the box including science at local farmers' markets and in local art studios – see Art in Science.

And for more on the festival, visit Bay Area Science!

A Walk Through California's National and State Parks

Wednesday, October 12, 2011, was this year's National Fossil Day and if you missed the festivities, you can still celebrate our Earth's natural history by visiting your local, national, or state parks. To learn more about fossils and the UCMP, check out the East Bay Science Cafe next Wednesday, November 2, when UCMP's Dave Lindberg will talk about "The History of Kelp Forests: Global and Local Surprises." You can also hear from UCMP graduate students, Jenna Judge and Rosemary Romero, at Discovery Days at AT&T Park on Sunday, November 6, one of the many events at this year's Bay Area Science Festival.

Observing Earth Science Week and National Fossil Day

UCMP and The Paleontology Portal are proud to observe this year's Earth Science Week (October 9-15) and second annual National Fossil Day (October 12) by (1) launching an interactive map of National Park Service (NPS) areas that preserve fossils; (2) presenting an East Bay Science Café talk; and (3) sharing Bay Area fossils with the public in the upcoming Bay Area Science Festival.

1. Launching a new interactive map
The mission of National Fossil Day, hosted by the NPS and the American Geological Institute, is to — as the NPS website states so nicely — "… promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values."

Screen shot of parks' fossils page

In support of this goal, The Paleontology Portal is launching a new interactive map of North America, featuring all the NPS areas (230 or so) that either preserve fossils or have the potential of preserving fossils, based on fossils found nearby. The information for each park includes the geologic age or ages of the fossil-bearing rocks, the kinds of fossils found in those rocks, and a link to the park's NPS website.

The NPS Fossil Parks page lists all 232 NPS areas that preserve fossils and provides links to NPS pages that relate to those fossils.

2. A science café on fossils
UCMP's Dave Lindberg will be the featured speaker at the November 2 East Bay Science Café at La Peña in Berkeley. He will be talking about the history and ecology of kelp forest ecosystems. The East Bay Science Café, hosted by the Berkeley Natural History Museums and Science@Cal, is held the first Wednesday of every month, 7-9 pm at Café Valparaiso, La Peña Cultural Center, 3105 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley, CA.

3. Who lived here before the Giants?
AT&T Park may now be home to the San Francisco Giants, but let's go back in time — waaay back. UCMP graduate students Jenna Judge and Rosemary Romero will share fossil evidence of some of the much earlier inhabitants of the Bay Area — just one of many activities of the 2011 Bay Area Science Festival and National Fossil Day! To be held on November 6, 2011 at AT&T Park, San Francisco.