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Showing blog posts tagged with "Paleontology"

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From the Field: Wrapping Up a Terrific Season

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Nairobi, Kenya, July 19, 2011

So we’re finally back in Nairobi, having packed up camp and driven back the 300-odd miles from Rusinga to the nation’s capital. It was a terrific field season, in many ways the best we’ve had. We had a really fun and motivated field crew and found a lot of wonderful fossils. What more could one ask?

Now begins the hard work of sorting out everything we found. In our case this means working in the National Museums of Kenya’s exquisite paleontology collections in Nairobi. Any fossils found in the country are reposited here, making it an ideal place to conduct comparative work. We’ve been here about a week, and it is still an overwhelming task. I’m not complaining though. It’s a fine position to be in; I’d rather we had too many than too few fossils.

Tags: From the Field, Paleontology

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Titanosaur Nest from The World’s Largest Dinosaurs

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They are some of the rarest of rare artifacts: fossil dinosaur eggs with the embryo still inside. And they are prized for what they can tell paleontologists about the adults that laid them.

The exhibition The World’s Largest Dinosaurs features a scale model of a nest found at Auca Mahuevo, Argentina, one of the largest known dinosaur nesting sites in the world. While it isn’t always possible to figure out which dinosaur laid a particular egg, in this case, an embryo within an egg found at Auca Mahuevo site allowed scientists to identify these eggs as those of titanosaurs, a group of sauropods that included such species as Ampelosaurus and Saltasaurus. Herds of female titanosaurs are thought to have laid the thousands of eggs — 15 to 40 at a time — in shallow nests dug out with their huge feet in dry mud and sand over miles of ground at Auca Mahuevo.

Tags: Dinosaurs, Paleontology

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From the Field: Fossil Hunting Begins

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Blogging from west Kenya, William Harcourt-Smith, a research associate in the Division of Paleontology, is directing a 20-million-year-old paleontological site on two islands in Lake Victoria. One of these islands, Rusinga, is best known as the site of the discovery of the first fossils of Proconsul, an early ape. Harcourt-Smith’s multidisciplinary team includes physical anthropologists and geologists, and in addition to collecting fossils, researchers are trying to learn more about the evolutionary events and environmental conditions that may have influenced the emergence of Proconsul and other early ape lineages.

Tags: From the Field, Paleontology

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From the Field: Heading Out to Rusinga Island

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Blogging from west Kenya, William Harcourt-Smith, a research associate in the Division of Paleontology, is directing a 20-million-year-old paleontological site on two islands in Lake Victoria. One of these islands, Rusinga, is best known as the site of the discovery of the first fossils of Proconsul, an early ape. Harcourt-Smith’s multidisciplinary team includes physical anthropologists and geologists, and in addition to collecting fossils, researchers are trying to learn more about the evolutionary events and environmental conditions that may have influenced the emergence of Proconsul and other early ape lineages.

Tags: From the Field, Paleontology

Preparing Fossils at the Museum

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Fossil preparation requires an uncommon degree of adaptability and patience. Museum preparators bring to the task diverse sets of skills from such backgrounds as art, paleontology, and archaeology. They generally learn their craft on the job, drawing from related fields such as object conservation to adapt modern glues, solvents, and other archival materials to stabilize fragile areas or repair damage.

Watch as Justy Alicea, a preparator at the American Museum of Natural History, works on a specimen and offers a tour of the Museum’s fossil preparation lab. And for more about fossil preparation, read this story, which originally appeared in the Summer 2010 issue of the Members’ magazine Rotunda.

Tags: Paleontology

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