time during the Early Jurassic, just after the typical Triassic groups had largely died off. Much of this work was done by researchers at Berkeley.
New and exciting work
A lot of new and exciting work is being carried out these days, mostly by younger scientists who have explored new field areas, reassessed collections in museums, and produced new analyses of the structure and relationships of these ancient reptiles. A good deal of this labor is in progress, which makes it all the more exciting. But even before it is published, it is challenging a great deal of received knowledge about what these animals were, how they were related, and how their fortunes waxed and waned in Triassic times. By comparing notes and referring directly to our collections, their photos and specimens, and each others insights, the participants found a great deal of common ground and opportunities for new research collaborations.
The Welles Fund makes this sharing of knowledge possible
The workshop was made possible by the Doris and Sam Welles Fund, which had brought many of these younger workers to the Museum previously to study our specimens of fossil animals and to compare them to those of other institutions. It seemed a great opportunity to bring many of these people together at the same time, so that they might make new connections and produce even better research. And this strategy produced immediate as well as prospective results. Walking through the halls of the collections over the weekend, one could hear the
Stephanie Nowak (Washington University, St. Louis) takes some time out to measure T. rex teeth, comparing their denticle counts to those of Triassic carnivores. (photo by Tim Fedak)
almost constant expressions of “eureka” that come from new insights, a light bulb suddenly snapping on, a long-held suspicion being confirmed, a connection being made by shared knowledge. Pieces of fragmentary fossils were suddenly fitting together to reveal identifiable bones where there had formerly been just rubble. A piece of jaw from one of our dinosaurs confirmed that another specimen in a museum halfway around the world must be from the same kind of animal. And in collection drawers all over the Museum, associated pieces of skulls, ankles, hips, and limbs were