June 09, 2017
Susan Kidwell have published a paper in which they study the local extinction of brachiopods and scallops off the coast of San Diego and Santa Barbara. They used paleontological methods to date fossil shells and determined that this local extinction happened during the 1800's and was likely due to the introduction of cattle, horses, and sheep by the Spanish in the late 1700's. These animals would have made the seawater dirty due to increased runoff and manure, so that the brachiopods and scallops couldn't survive. The work demonstrates both the significant impact pre-industrial societies can have on their environment and the usefulness of paleontological approaches to recent ecological transitions. Congratulations Adam and Susan!William Rainey Harper Professor
May 31, 2017
Assistant professor Graham Slater has published a new paper in which he, along with coauthors from Stanford and the Smithsonian, used macroevolutionary modeling to determine that there was an abrupt shift in baleen whale body size evolution that lead to the giants we have today and that it only occurred within the past 4Myr. Our modeling rules out most previous hypotheses for gigantism and instead implies a role for climate driven changes in ocean circulation and productivity that began in the late Pliocene. This work was covered in the NYTimes, the BBC, the LATimes, The Guardian, PBS Newshour, and Science. He also was interviewed on Canadian and German radio. Congratulations Graham!
May 31, 2017
Professor Doug MacAyeal will be a star interviewee in a new episode of "Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown" on Antarctica that will play on CNN this weekend. You can watch a brief clip here. MacAyeal previously starred in Werner Herzog's Antarctica documentary "Encounters at the End of the World." Great job movie star!