LONG NECKS, STRONG BITES,AND MONKEY LIZARDS:
Discovering the Weirdness of Early Mesozoic Reptiles
Dr. Adam Pritchard
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geology and Geophysics
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Sunday, February, 19, 2017 2:00 P.M. Room 319
American Museum of Natural History New York City
The Permo-Triassic Extinction 251 million years ago wiped out an estimated 90% of species living on Earth at that time. In the wake of that catastrophe, reptiles rapidly became the dominant back-boned animals across the planet, dominating land, sea, and air. Paleontologists have only just begun to understand this defining event in vertebrate evolution. Our understanding of this evolutionary radiation comes largely from records of large-bodied animals (total body length > 1 meter), although fragmentary and tantalizing evidence suggests that smaller reptiles were every bit as diverse. New paleontological field techniques, high-resolution CAT scanning, and three-dimensional modeling have begun to reveal such small reptiles for the first time.
Field excavations in the Triassic of New Mexico continue to produce new and bizarre small reptiles, from long-necked tanystropheids to chameleon-like drepanosaurs. However, the strangest of reptiles still linger unstudied in collections for decades. Scanning and modeling of skulls in the collections of the American Museum of Natural History and the Yale Peabody Museum reveal and entirely new group of lizard-like reptiles with powerful jaw muscles and a bird-like beak and expanded brain in a new species of drepanosaur. Our understanding of reptilian diversity at the dawn of the Mesozoic Era is only beginning.
N.Y.P.S. MEETING DATES FOR THE YEAR
These are the meeting dates of the New York Paleontological Society for the 2016-2017 season. We meet at 2:00 P.M. in room 319 at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (79th Street and Central Park West), unless otherwise specified. Our Annual Party will be held at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in Brooklyn, N.Y. Due to changes in the museum’s schedule, the above dates may change (usually very unlikely), so check your Newsletter or the monthly meeting notice on this website.