UCMP’s summer field adventures (cont.)

While Greg and his crew were searching for mammals, Mark Goodwin, also working with the MOR crew, continued his research in the Hell Creek Formation. Historically, the upper part of this formation is well known for preserving the remains of two very popular dinosaurs, Tyrannosaurus and Triceratops. The Hell Creek Formation is about 350 feet thick, and the upper part is very fossiliferous, well exposed, and relatively easy to get to. It’s a different story for the lower part of the formation and taking a critical look at this lower portion was one of the goals for this field season. Mark is interested in the life history, ontogeny (development), and behavior of two dinosaurs: pachycephalosaurs and Triceratops. Remains of both were found, and based on new fossils found this summer, as well as those found in the last two field seasons, and those in the collections of the MOR and UCMP, a good growth series for Triceratops is now available. Goodwin and Horner reported on the preliminary results on the cranial ontogeny of Triceratops, in other words, how they grew their horns and massive frills, at the recent Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting and Science News reported on their research in the October 20 issue.
Mark is also interested in comparing the paleocommunities of dinosaurs and contemporaneous animals preserved in the lower vs. the upper part of the Hell Creek Formation. When other scientists comment, “Why is it worth going back summer after summer to the Hell Creek Formation?” Mark can now answer that the dinosaur communities are very, very different in the lower and upper parts of the formation, a period covering an estimated 3–5 million years of geologic time. Stay tuned for more in the coming year as results from a very successful 2001 field season are analyzed and published.

Mark Goodwin and Jack Horner
Mark Goodwin and Jack Horner (Museum of the Rockies) get directions from Dan Redding to a dinosaur skeleton weathering out on his ranch in eastern Montana. (photo by Dick Peirce)
  From Baja to Hawaii to Vienna
Following the 34th Annual Meeting of the Western Society of Malacologists in San Diego, Carole Hickman joined a paleontology field trip in northwestern Baja California organized by Miguel Tellez Duarte (Universidad Autonoma de Baja California, Ensenada) and Hans Bertsch (California Academy of Sciences). Highlights of the trip included the magnificent Cretaceous rudist bivalve reefs cropping out in coastal cliffs at El Rincon and the external mold of an enormous ammonite, Pachydiscus catarinae, in the Rosario Formation north of Ensenada.
In July, Carole continued her research in Hawaii on the form, structure, and function of larval gastropod shells and then headed for the World Congress of Malacology in Vienna in August. She and colleague Penelope Barnes (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Panama) organized a symposium on molluscan chemosymbiosis. The symposium focused on exciting new data on the ancient origins (Early Paleozoic) and long evolutionary history of the mollusks and communities harboring bacterial symbionts that use reduced sulfur and other unusual energy substrates to fuel life.
The conference also included the opportunity for further explorations—a journey through fifteen million years of the Miocene and the famous and beautiful snails of the genus Melanopsis, noted for its evolutionary radiation of shell form.

Carol Hickman examines an ammonite fossil
Carol Hickman examines the mold of an enormous ammonite in Baja. (photo by Hans Bertsch)

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