Meet the Curators
Mark A. Norell, Curator and Chair, Division of Paleontology
For the last two decades, Mark Norell has been one of the team leaders of the joint American Museum of Natural History/Mongolian Academy of Sciences expeditions to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. With the discovery of extraordinarily well-preserved fossils in Mongolia, Dr. Norell and the team have generated new ideas about bird origins and the groups of dinosaurs to which modern birds are most closely related. Dr. Norell was one of the Gobi Desert Expedition team members who discovered Ukhaa Tolgod in 1993, the world’s richest vertebrate fossil site dating from the Cretaceous. Among the discoveries are the first embryo of a meat-eating dinosaur, the primitive avialian Mononykus, and an Oviraptor found nesting on a brood of eggs, the first evidence of parental care among dinosaurs. In addition to field work in the Gobi, Patagonia, the Chilean Andes, and the Sahara, Dr. Norell was part of the team that in 1998 announced the discovery in northeastern China of two 120-million-year-old dinosaur species, both of which show unequivocal evidence of true feathers. Currently, he continues work on the evolutionary relationships of dinosaurs and modern birds, has named new dinosaurs like Alioramus and Byronosaurus, and has developed new ways of looking at fossils using computed tomography (CT) scans and imaging.
In addition to curating six exhibitions at the Museum, including Pterosaurs: Flight in the Age of Dinosaurs, Dr. Norell has written Discovering Dinosaurs (1995), A Nest of Dinosaurs (2000), Unearthing the Dragon (2005), and the coffee-table book The Dinosaur Hunters: The Extraordinary Story of the Men and Women Who Discovered Prehistoric Life, published with co-author Lowell Dingus in 2008. Dr. Norell came to the American Museum of Natural History in 1989 from Yale University, where he was a lecturer in the Department of Biology. In 1988 he earned his Ph.D. in biology from Yale, where, since 1991, he has been adjunct assistant professor of biology.
Learn more about Dr. Norell's work in this video profile.
Alexander W. A. Kellner, Associate Professor, Museu Nacional/Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Alexander Kellner is a leading vertebrate paleontologist who has made numerous discoveries of fossil vertebrates around the world. He has led expeditions to the most remote areas of the planet, including Antarctica, the Atacama Desert, and Kerman (Iran). Since the beginning of his career his primary field focus in the evolutionary history of pterosaurs, the first vertebrates to master the skies by developing powered flight. Up to date he has described more than 50 species of fossil vertebrates, including pterosaurs from Brazil (Thalassodromeus, Tapejara, and Anhanguera), United States of America (Dawndraco), Australia (Aussidraco), China (Wukongopterus), Africa (Sirrocopteryx), and Spain (Europejara). His research has contributed to a better understanding of the paleobiodiversity that existed, particularly during the Cretaceous period, in several regions of the world, enhancing our knowledge of how vertebrate fauna evolved and how distinct ecosystems developed through deep time. He has also participated in several paleontological exhibitions in Brazil and Japan. He is professor at the National Museum of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, where he advises several Ph.D. and master’s degree students researching fossil vertebrates. Dr. Kellner was elected to the Brazilian Academy of Sciences and the World Academy of Science (TWAS) and is a research associate of the American Museum of Natural History and of the Institute for Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology in Beijing, China.