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 email@example.com. 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
Using Fossil Whale Barnacles to Reconstruct Prehistoric Whale Migrations Baleen whales, as we know them today, lead lives that are largely defined by their annual migrations. Every year, whales spend their winters breeding and reproducing in tropical waters, then travel to poleward feeding areas each summer. For North Pacific humpback whales, winter breeding areas cluster around Central America and Hawaii, and then they travel to the Gulf of Alaska to feed in the summer (small numbers also … [Read more...] about A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Pleistocene Sea
Ever wonder where fossils from the UCMP were collected or want to know more about the geological setting of UCMP field areas? Curious about why an area looks the way it does? These questions and others are driving the development of Virtual Field Experiences (VFEs) associated with the EPICC project (Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoic, http://epicc.berkeley.edu). Together with EPICC partners from the Paleontological Research Institution (PRI), UCMP Assistant Director Lisa … [Read more...] about Bringing the field to our users through EPICC’s Virtual Field Experiences
On March 4th the popular UCMP annual short course featured dinosaurs this year: "A new look at old bones: Insights into dinosaur growth, development and diversity." The short course is an ideal way to connect public audiences, particularly teachers and science educators, with current research in paleontology and Earth history. Past short courses have had regional environmental themes (SF Bay ecosystems) or focused on patterns of evolution and extinction. After Lisa White kicked off the course … [Read more...] about A Successful Short Course
Through a crowdfunding initiative with UC Berkeley, the UCMP would like your support in creating the first ever "see-through" dinosaur skull! UCMP is a leader in paleontological research and with your support of this project, museum paleontologists will further explore how dinosaur skulls grow and develop as they change size and shape. With this crowdfunding project, UCMP hopes to raise enough funds to CT scan, volume render and 3D print the first ever see-through dinosaur skull, starting with … [Read more...] about Support UCMP’s See-Through Dinosaur Skull Project
Revealing the collections at Regatta The 2017 Fossil Treasures Calendar is a bit of a 'behind-the-scenes' look at the work done at UCMP and celebrates some impressive fossil specimens we hold at the Regatta Facility in Richmond, CA. We have both fossils large in size and large in number and featured in this calendar are the large antlers from the giant elk, hundreds of vials of microfossils and even dinosaur fossils formerly on display at Cal Academy, namely the legs of the Allosaurus. So get … [Read more...] about 2017 Fossil Treasures Calendar Available Now!