Monthly presentation series discusses fossils, paleontology at Florida Museum

February 9th, 2012

Photos available

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Learn more about fossil nuts, primates and horses from Florida Museum of Natural History researchers during the “Cruisin’ for Fossils” spring presentation series.

The three free presentations are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Feb. 19, March 11 and April 29 in the museum classroom.

Topics include “Cruisin’ for Fossil Nuts” by curator of paleobotany Steve Manchester, “Cruisin’ for Fossil Primates” by associate curator of vertebrate paleontology Jonathan Bloch and “Cruisin’ for Florida’s Fossil Horses” by vertebrate paleontology collections manager Richard Hulbert, respectively.

“I hope visitors learn that paleontology is much more than just digging up bones,” said Amanda Erickson Harvey, Florida Museum education assistant. “Through this series, you can learn about the fascinating research of our scientists and how their work is contributing to our understanding of life on Earth and climate change.”

Manchester plans to take visitors on a journey across North America in search of ancient acorns, chestnuts, walnuts and other varieties of nuts while exploring why their appearance about 50 million years ago coincided with the diversification of rodents.

Bloch will talk about his research on the fossil record of primates from the Rocky Mountains including Montana and Wyoming. He will take visitors on a trip from the origin of primates just after the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, to a massive global warming event, which marks one of the most dramatic events in mammalian evolution, to the origin of the group of primates that includes monkeys, apes and humans about 47 million years ago, including current scientific debate on the topic.

Hulbert’s presentation will span about 30 million years of Florida history, highlighting sites that have yielded the most horse fossils and explaining how paleontologists use them to interpret horse ecology, diet, behavior and evolutionary relationships.

The presentations complement the museum’s newest temporary exhibit “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway,” which explores questions of evolution, climate change and early life on Earth through the artwork of artist Ray Toll with insights from paleontologist Kirk Johnson. This exhibit also features 30 fossils from the museum’s collection including two complete skeleton casts of the three-horned dinosaur Triceratops horridus and the carnivorous Albertosaurus.

While the presentation is free for all visitors, admission to “Cruisin’ the Fossil Freeway” is $5 for adults; $4.50 for Fla. residents, college students and seniors; $4 for ages 3-17 and free for Florida Museum members and children 2 and under.

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Source: Amanda Harvey, 352-273-2052, aerickson@flmnh.ufl.edu
Writer: Leeann Bright
Media contact: Paul Ramey, 352-273-2054, pramey@flmnh.ufl.edu