Speaker Se­ries dou­ble header

The Drumheller Mail - - NEWS - Sub­mit­ted

Speaker Se­ries is of­fer­ing two pre­sen­ta­tions at the Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum this week.

The March 16 ses­sion is a pre­sen­ta­tion by Dr. Takuya Kon­ishi, Univer­sity of Cincin­nati, en­ti­tled “Shar­ing Un­der the Cre­ta­ceous Sea: Global Dis­tri­bu­tion Achieved by Hal­isaurine Mosasaurs Ex­plained by a New Dis­cov­ery from Ja­pan.”

Mosasaurs were large, flip­per-bear­ing swim­ming lizards from the age of the last di­nosaurs, about 100–66 mil­lion years ago.

Out of this highly di­verse as­sem­blage, hal­isaurine mosasaurs were small and seemed less well adapted to life in wa­ter since they lacked the well- de­vel­oped flip­pers and tail fin of their larger con­tem­po­raries. Yet these small mosasaurs be­came in­creas­ingly more com­mon in the fos­sil record to­wards the end of the Cre­ta­ceous, in­di­cat­ing their evo­lu­tion­ary suc­cess along­side their larger, fast-swim­ming cousins.

In his talk, Kon­ishi will ex­plain why a re­cently dis­cov­ered skull from Ja­pan sheds new light on hal­isaurine mosasaurs’ po­ten­tial sur­vival strat­egy: that hal­isaurines evolved a pair of large, for­ward-fac­ing eyes that would have in­creased their abil­ity to see in the dark, al­low­ing them to hunt at night.

The Fri­day, March 17 ses­sion is a pre­sen­ta­tion by Dr. Grant Zazula, Yukon Gov­ern­ment, en­ti­tled Ice Age Mam­mals of the Frozen North.

Since the ear­li­est dis­cov­er­ies dur­ing the famed Klondike gold rush of 1898, sci­en­tists have ven­tured into the re­mote tun­dra and bo­real for­est of north­west Canada to study the fos­sils of woolly mam­moths, gi­ant beavers, arc­tic camels and their co­horts.

This tra­di­tion of gold min­ers and palaeon­tol­o­gists work­ing col­lab­o­ra­tively con­tin­ues to­day with the Yukon Gov­ern­ment’s palaeon­tol­ogy pro­gram. The per­mafrost ex­posed by Yukon gold min­ers is an in­ter­na­tion­ally renowned ar­chive of arc­tic en­vi­ron­men­tal change and ma­jor source of ice age ver­te­brates, in­clud­ing an­cient DNA pre­served in these fos­sil bones. In his talk, Zazula will ex­plore how re­search on the ice age record of Yukon is lead­ing to valu­able in­sights into how an­cient mam­mal com­mu­ni­ties re­sponded to cli­mate change in the ge­o­log­i­cally re­cent past and pro­vides in­for­ma­tive analogs for changes oc­cur­ring in Canada’s north at present.

The Royal Tyrrell Mu­seum’s Speaker Se­ries talks are free and open to the pub­lic. They are held ev­ery Thurs­day (and this week, Fri­day!) un­til April 27 at 11:00 a.m. in the Mu­seum au­di­to­rium.

Dr. Takuya Kon­ishi… to present at Speaker Se­ries

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