Bill Clemens had been excavating fossils in eastern Montana’s Hell Creek Formation for more than 10 years, focusing primarily on the small mammals that scurried around the feet of dinosaurs and other Mesozoic Era creatures, when, in 1980, Walter and Luis Alvarez at the University of California, Berkeley, proposed that the dinosaurs and most of life on Earth were wiped out at the end of the Mesozoic by an asteroid or comet impact. As a paleontologist who had unearthed myriad fossils from … [Read more...] about William Clemens, expert on fossil mammals, dies at 88
Fossils recovered from Antarctica in the 1980s represent the oldest giant members of an extinct group of birds that patrolled the southern oceans with wingspans of up to 21 feet that would dwarf the 11½-foot wingspan of today’s largest bird, the wandering albatross. Called pelagornithids, the birds filled a niche much like that of today’s albatrosses and traveled widely over Earth’s oceans for at least 60 million years. Though a much smaller pelagornithid fossil dates from 62 million years … [Read more...] about Antarctica yields oldest fossils of giant birds with 21-foot wingspans
What was the Ice Age like in the Bay Area? That's the question a Half Moon Bay middle-schooler posed to KQED's Bay Curious podcast. Retired professor Doris Sloan and Museum Scientist Patricia Holroyd talk with KQED's Dan Potter about the landscape and animals present here during the last Ice Age and reveal some surprising fun facts. Listen to the podcast … [Read more...] about What was the Ice Age like in the Bay Area?
Birds and bird eggs are familiar stuff: we see them daily in our backyards and even in our kitchens. But ask the classic questions: where did egg laying come from and how did it get that way? Answers are hard to come by. A gravid theropod dinosaur discovered with fossilized eggs still inside it helps explain how birds evolved their distinctive ways of reproducing. Described in a paper in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology by recent UCMP alumnus Ashley Poust and co-authors from China and … [Read more...] about Best laid plans: a new fossil of a dinosaur mother full of eggs and information
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the UC Berkeley campus is currently closed and access to the UCMP collections is not possible. Please be advised we are not processing outgoing loans at this time. If you have loans to return, please contact the appropriate collections person BEFORE SHIPPING. The university has informed us to anticipate working from home through Jun 30, 2021. Hence, we expect the collections will remain closed to outside researchers until at least that … [Read more...] about Access to the UCMP Collections remains restricted
Confinement at home due to the Covid-19 pandemic has provided an opportunity to reflect on the pace of my research over the last year. Thinking back to Aesop’s fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, I see that my research has adopted traits from both animals: sometimes moving slow and steady, while other times travelling at break-neck speed. Despite this variability in research pace, the UCMP has been a constant presence during my research through its supportive staff and generous financial … [Read more...] about The tortoise and the hare: the varied pace of research
During the summer of 2019 we (graduate students Mackenzie Kirchner-Smith and Ixchel Gonzalez-Ramirez) spent a month working in the Paleobotanical Collections of the National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) in DC as part of the NSF-sponsored Pteridophyte Collection Consortium project (PCC). This project, led by PIs Carl Rothfels, Diane Erwin and Cindy Looy, seeks to digitize more than 1.7 million modern and fossil pteridophyte specimens. During the month at the NMNH we digitized more than 700 … [Read more...] about Back to the Devonian for the Pteridophyte Collection Consortium (PCC) project
What future for turtles? Our best guide to the future is the study of a group's past. Senior Museum Scientist Patricia Holroyd, in collaboration with United Kingdom scientists led by Terri Cleary, present a comprehensive new study in the journal Palaeontology detailing the origin and spread of turtles for the first 250 million years of their evolution. Read more about the work at the Natural History Museum website. … [Read more...] about Will turtles survive climate change?
The school year has ended, but with the ongoing pandemic pushing most usual summertime activities off the table, my thoughts have been turning to how I spent my last summer: organizing fishing trips to Nevada. These excursions weren’t exactly spent relaxing on a boat in Tahoe reeling in trout. Rather, my companions and I were kneeling in a defunct quarry under the desert sun, prying apart layers of blindingly white rock in search of the fossils of small fish that once lived in a long-disappeared … [Read more...] about Fossil fishing for clues about a prehistoric invasion
Botanist Dr. Nathalie Nagalingum (California Academy of Sciences) explains how, more than 400 million years ago, early plants played a notable role in adjusting Earth's physical surface as well as our planet's climate. She meets with paleobotanist Dr. Cindy Looy (UCMP & UC Berkeley) to discuss the evidence that scientists currently have to support her story. … [Read more...] about How did plants change our planet?
Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the UC Berkeley campus is currently closed and access to the UCMP collections is not possible. We expect access will remain limited through the fall 2020 semester but we will update as information becomes available. You can learn more about the campus closures and updates through the Berkeley COVID-19 website. … [Read more...] about Access to the UCMP collections is restricted
Unique and rare deposits in South Korea provide a glimpse of Cretaceous flowering plant ecosystems It has been over a month since the closure of the UC Berkeley campus and the UCMP due to the ongoing pandemic. During the shelter-in-place, I have been fortunate enough to be able to continue research from home. Many images of fossils that I am working on at the moment are from a summer 2019 research trip to South Korea. Thanks to the research award I received from UCMP, I was able to do fieldwork … [Read more...] about South Korea’s rich Cretaceous history: A window into the past
Having the opportunity to return to a field site is, in many ways, like rewatching a favorite movie series. On your first pass through, everything is unexpected and unfamiliar. For some movies, the amount of information and detail can be overwhelming. On your second pass through, even though you now know the characters, the setting, and the plot, you begin to notice important details that you missed the first time. Each time you rewatch the series, you discover new things and form new ideas, and … [Read more...] about Reading Between the Rocks: The Return to Anticosti
The Pennsylvanian (323-299 million years ago) is one of the most interesting time periods in Earth’s history. Giant dragonfly relatives like Meganeura (>2 ft wingspan!), 8-ft-long millipedes named Arthropleura, and early mammal-like reptiles lived in a world that likely had atmospheric oxygen levels well above today’s. These animals roamed a landscape dominated by extensive peat swamps, covering large parts of what was then Euramerica. These swamp forests would look entirely … [Read more...] about Paleontologic Data Fossilized on IBM 8” Floppies
Inspired by UCMP's dedication to science outreach, PhD candidate Sara ElShafie has been exploring new approaches to science communication while conducting her dissertation research in global change biology. Keen to learn how to engage broad audiences through stories, ElShafie started reaching out to filmmakers at Pixar and other studios to learn and adapt cinematic storytelling strategies for science communication. She created a workshop series, "Science Through Story," offering story … [Read more...] about Science through Story, now on YouTube
Cross-posted from Berkeley News The mass extinction at the end of the Permian Period 252 million years ago — one of the great turnovers of life on Earth — appears to have played out differently and at different times on land and in the sea, according to newly redated fossils beds from South Africa and Australia. New ages for fossilized vertebrates that lived just after the demise of the fauna that dominated the late Permian show that the ecosystem changes began hundreds of thousands of … [Read more...] about In Earth’s largest extinction, land die-offs began long before ocean turnover
A big thank you for supporting UCMP during Big Give! … [Read more...] about Big Thanks for supporting UCMP!
A letter from Charles Marshall, Director Dear Friends and Alumni of UCMP, The annual Big Give, which will take place on Thursday, March 12, is a campus-wide opportunity to celebrate and support what makes Berkeley unique and the premier public university in the world. Your gifts to the UCMP help contribute to excellence in all facets of the museum: research, collections, education and outreach. With the 2020 Big Give we ask for your support for: Graduate and undergraduate … [Read more...] about UCMP Big Give 2020
NEWS RELEASE A new species of quail-sized fossil bird from 44 million year old sediments in Utah fills in a gap in the fossil record of the early extinct relatives of chickens and turkeys, and it shows strong links with other extinct species from Namibia in Southern Africa and Uzbekistan in Central Asia. In their paper in the online scientific journal Diversity, the authors Dr. Thomas Stidham (Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of … [Read more...] about New tiny 44 million year old bird fossil links Africa and Asia to Utah
Save the date for the UCMP 2020 Short Course, Tracking megamammals in the late Quaternary. Learn more on the short course page. … [Read more...] about UCMP Short Course 2020: Save the Date
Big History is the name of the fairly new effort to treat, as a single field of study, all of the past that has led to us human beings. It brings together the regimes of Cosmic, Earth, Life, and Human history, and involves both humanists and scientists. Big History is rich in insights about the human situation and how it has come to be, but it involves time scales that are enormous, compared to those we are used to, and therefore difficult to comprehend and to visualize. ChronoZoom is a way … [Read more...] about The ChronoZoom Time Atlas of Earth History and Big History
The Education and Outreach team has been busy creating interactive resources for educators and teachers. We invite you to explore some of our most recent projects: EPICC Virtual Fieldwork Experiences EPICC virtual fieldwork experiences (VFEs) provide opportunities to virtually visit classic paleontological field sites along the Pacific coast and to explore images and data from specimens that have been collected there. VFEs can combine high resolution and 3-D pictures for exploring an … [Read more...] about Explore UCMP teaching and learning resources
In February 2015, The Bearded Lady Project film and photography team boarded a plane and flew to San Francisco. They were carrying a peculiar cargo: 30 beards and mustaches that they picked up at their regional theater prop shop. During their three days on the UC Berkeley campus at the UC Museum of Paleontology (UCMP), they interviewed and photographed about 30 UCMP paleontologists wearing beards. The participating UCMP graduate students, faculty members and museum scientists all had one thing … [Read more...] about The Bearded Ladies Go Berkeley
Kangaroos … in Berkeley? That’s right, mate. You won’t find them leaping around the campus, though. Because they’re in the Museum of Paleontology’s fossil collections. In the 1950s, then-curator and professor Ruben A. Stirton decided to go to Australia’s Tirari Desert to look for fossil marsupials. He wanted to find evidence to answer the question of the origin and spread of marsupials through space and time. Did they come from Australia, Antarctica, or … [Read more...] about Researchers from Down Under come to UCMP to study our Australian fossils
The annual business meeting of the George D. Louderback Fund's board of directors will take place Tuesday morning, May 21. If you are interested in attending please contact email@example.com for details. … [Read more...] about Louderback Fund Annual Meeting
Join us on Saturday, April 13, from 9am-4pm for Cal Day. A full schedule of events can be found on the Cal Day Events website. … [Read more...] about Join us for CalDay 2019!
Update April 1: registration is still open! NorCal Paleo is on Saturday, April 6. As a conference run by students for students, the focus of NorCal Paleo is on student research and professional development. NorCal Paleo provides an ideal venue for students to showcase their research, gain feedback from leading California scientists and network with both their peers and future advisors and employers. NorCal Paleo is focused on all things paleo, including paleontology, paleoecology, … [Read more...] about NorCal Paleo registration is open!
Thank you! Whether you contributed a gift, a social share, or both during the Big Give in support of UCMP research, teaching, and education, we thank you for being part of the campaign. Big Give provides an opportunity for the UC Berkeley community of alumni, students, faculty, staff, and friends to show their support for public education and world-class research. If you donated to the UCMP during the Big Give, we’ll send you a letter of thanks with more details about the impact of your … [Read more...] about Big Thanks!
It's Pi Day! We hope you will consider a gift to the UCMP during the campus Big Give, a fundraising campaign on Pi Day, Thursday, March 14. Every gift received will directly support research, teaching, and education at the UCMP. DONATE TODAY! Research in Global Change Biology * World Class Collections * Education and Outreach Workshops * Graduate Student Support * Celebrating 25 Years of Web Resources … [Read more...] about UCMP Big Give on Pi Day!
KQED's Bay Curious asks: are there dinosaur bones in UC Berkeley's Campanile? UCMP's Pat Holroyd and Leslea Hlusko answer this question. … [Read more...] about Are There Dinosaur Bones in UC Berkeley’s Campanile?
UC Berkeley alumnus Courtney Sprain and Berkeley Geochronology Center Director Paul Renne are lead authors on a report in Science detailing new argon-argon dating of the Deccan Traps in India. Their work on the timing of the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinctions relative to the Chicxulub impact and Deccan flood basalt eruptions remains the subject of exciting, ongoing research. Read more in the Berkeley News Center … [Read more...] about Asteroids or volcanoes?
Forgive us. We nearly didn’t notice until late 2018 that the year marked the 25th anniversary of the UCMP website! We decided that early 2019 was a good time to celebrate that milestone since the site is undergoing a somewhat radical redesign, only the fourth big design change in its history. We felt that this was also a good time to look back at those 25 years and pick out some of the highlights. I contacted website founders Rob Guralnick, currently Associate Curator of Biodiversity … [Read more...] about 25 years of the UCMP website
This past summer, I had the opportunity to conduct my first field season on Anticosti Island (Québec, Canada). Located in the subarctic of Canada, Anticosti Island preserves a 200 kilometer-long transect of ancient seafloor. Late Ordovician tropical reefs and fossils are beautifully preserved across the island in towering coastal cliffs and river canyons. The sheer size of the island is astounding, and the insight its fossil record could provide into early Paleozoic marine communities is … [Read more...] about Reading between the rocks: Reinterpreting the Late Ordovician mass extinction
Working in a paleontology prep lab as an Anthropology major who leans towards cultural analysis was something that seemed out of left field for me. I was sitting in the corner of a lab that was strewn with rocks and fossils that I didn’t know yet were fossils for my job interview, and I was asked to give more detail on my experience in art. I didn’t really expect it to be something that would be so important to my job here at the Museum of Paleontology, but my experience outside of the “hard … [Read more...] about Science and the arts are not incompatible
Throughout my whole life I have known that I would make my passion my career someday. However, the road to success in vertebrate paleontology can be a rocky one (no pun intended), sometimes without direction or opportunity. Fortunately, the University of California Museum of Paleontology seeks to help aspiring scientists, such as myself, obtain hands-on experience in the field of paleontology! My name is Julia Anderson, and I am a senior undergraduate student, actively seeking my place amongst … [Read more...] about Working in the UCMP fossil prep lab
One of the exciting projects we worked on in the prep lab was the assembly of the remains of a whale skull, known as "Sandbox Whale". The project, from its plaster jacket beginnings to the finished product, relied on various skills that we have learned in the prep lab. I find that most of our projects, like the Sandbox Whale, require creativity and patience. The opening of the rigid plaster jacket required the use of wet rags to loosen the jacket so we could rip it open. This is a clever … [Read more...] about The Tale of Sandbox Whale
Look around in nature or even in the city and you will see that organisms are not static entities, but interact with one another. Think of a robin with a worm in its beak, a tick crawling on your leg looking for a spot to puncture your skin, or two bucks fighting during the rutting season for the right to mate. The sea floor is also a place where animals search or fight for food to stay alive. On the continents, food is not unlimited; every individual tries to collect a piece of the pie (Fig. … [Read more...] about How often does extreme competition occur between species on the ocean floor?
Four states, nine days, 2,850 miles, 48 hours cumulative driving and enumerable sponges. The Field Methods in Paleobiology Course, also known as the 2018 Spring Break Field Trip, from March 24, 2018 to April 1, 2018, was a whirlwind tour of the Southwest with IB Faculty/UCMP Curators Cindy Looy, Ivo Duijnstee and Seth Finnegan leading a group of students, a professor on sabbatical and one staff member to West Texas to the explore the ancient Capitan Reef formation in and around Guadalupe … [Read more...] about 2018 Spring Break Field Trip
Thanks to our recent digitization projects, UCMP now has topped 100,000 cataloged invertebrate specimens! At least 6500 of these are fossil insects, millipedes and spiders digitized by Dr. Diane Erwin and undergraduate students under Berkeley's Fossil Insect PEN. Helping make all this possible was the work by the following participants: Dr. Marwa Wafeeq Abdelkhaliq Ibraheem (Ain Shams University, Egypt; volunteer), graduate students Winnie Hsiung and Rosemary Romero, as well as undergraduate … [Read more...] about UCMP now has over 100,000 cataloged invertebrate specimens
Russell H. Waines was a geologist who dedicated most of his life to ancient sponges, the stromatoporoids, which were one of the most important reef builders during the Paleozoic. When I was a graduate student researcher at the UCMP in 2013, I had the pleasure of organizing this collection (Figure 1), which includes approximately 2000 fossil specimens (566 of which are registered in the UCMP database) mainly from the Devonian of Nevada, but also from Alaska, Arizona, California, New York, Utah, … [Read more...] about Russell Waines’ stromatoporoid collection
The EPICC project (Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoic) is pleased to launch the first suite of virtual fieldwork experience (VFE) modules set in the Kettleman Hills near Coalinga in Central California. Using high-resolution images, high quality panoramas, photographs, and video clips, supported by easy to understand text, we bring to life the field to museum connection for general and classroom audiences. There are five modules: Explore Geology Explore Sediments … [Read more...] about EPICC Virtual Field Experiences
Understanding Global Change FREE Workshop and Materials for High School Science Educators April 28 & 29, 2018, 10:00am – 4:00pm Valley Life Sciences Hall, UC Berkeley Space is limited! Registration closes April 20, 2018 or earlier if fills. To register, please contact Jessica Bean firstname.lastname@example.org. The University of California Museum of Paleontology is hosting a teacher professional development program to support the teaching of the global change topics. We are recruiting 15 teacher … [Read more...] about Understanding Global Change Workshop, April 28-29
Members of the Looy Lab - Jeff Benca, Ivo Duijnstee, and Cindy Looy - co-authored a paper in the journal Science Advances. It details exciting new findings from experimental research on the effects on UV-B induced stresses on forest decline during the end-Permian extinction. Read more in the University press release. View the video: https://youtu.be/bz9je0Me4AU … [Read more...] about UCMP paleobiologists shed new light on ozone shield failure, forest sterility, and mass extinction
The Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg or K-T) mass extinction — the event in which the non-avian dinosaurs, along with about 70% of all species in the fossil record went extinct — was probably caused by the Chicxulub meteor impact in Yucatán, México. However, scientists have long wondered about the massive volcanic eruptions that were occurring in northwestern India at about the same time, the Deccan Traps. Volcanism is the likely cause of several prior mass extinctions, with no convincing evidence for … [Read more...] about A new destination for disaster enthusiasts
In 1905 UCMP benefactress Annie Alexander financed and took part in an expedition to the West Humboldt Mountains of Nevada to collect vertebrate fossils in the Triassic limestones. The crew came home with portions of some 25 ichthyosaur skeletons. Alexander put together a scrapbook containing her chronicle of the trip and many photographs; the scrapbook was given to UCMP following Alexander’s death in 1950 and is one of the most treasured items in the museum’s archives. Up until now, the … [Read more...] about Exploring Annie Alexander’s Saurian Expedition of 1905
You might think that an 85-foot-deep hole where a bunch of horses, wolves, camels, elephants, and plenty of other animals accidentally plummeted to their death over tens of thousands of years would have enough red flags to make going into it yourself sound like a bad idea. But what if these unfortunate critters could tell you what their life was like and how they died? What if they could give you a warning about their death in a warming world after the last ice age and what it means for life in … [Read more...] about A Pleistocene pit-stop: the Barnosky lab excavates Natural Trap Cave, Wyoming
Roughly 10 million students attend American community colleges each academic year, accounting for more than a third of all American undergraduates. Relative to their peers at four-year institutions, community college students are much more likely to come from lower income households, much more likely to be members of an underrepresented minority group, and much more likely to be a first-generation college student. I was lucky enough to spend three years as a faculty member of a Denver-area … [Read more...] about Guest lecturing at Los Medanos Community College
Reconstructing biotic interactions is crucial to understand the functioning and evolution of ecosystems through time, but this is notoriously difficult. Competition in deep time cannot be readily seen except for overgrowth of one organism by another under the assumption that both were alive at the same time. Parasites usually do not preserve because they are soft-bodied and tend to be small so that they are not spotted easily. The most abundant evidence of biotic interactions comes from the … [Read more...] about What do traces of predators tell about ancient marine ecosystems?
It is widely recognized that major groups evolve at different rates, in their own evolutionary trajectories. Some evolve fast and are very diversified while others evolve slowly and may never experience an explosion of diversity throughout their trajectory. One of my research interests is understanding the pace of morphological evolution through time, and the organisms selected to investigate this topic are the irregular echinoids. Commonly known irregular echinoids include the sand dollars … [Read more...] about Understanding the evolutionary history of the cassiduloid echinoids
I am very grateful to have received a UCMP Graduate Student Research Award via the Barnosky Fund in April 2016. I used these funds to collect pilot data from major natural history museum collections around the country for my dissertation research. My research investigates responses in fossil animal communities to climate change over long time intervals. We need historical data about the affects of climate change on animals in the past in order to anticipate these affects on animals in the … [Read more...] about Surprising new finds in museum specimens