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Due to the continuing corona virus situation, this meeting will be held online through Zoom.


Recent Discoveries in Fossil Arthropod

Respiration Using CT-scanning

Dr. Melanie Hopkins

Curator-in-Charge, Fossil Invertebrates & Associate Professor, Richard Gilder

Graduate School, American Museum of Natural History, New York City

Sunday, May 16, 2021           2:00 P.M.


Most of the fossil record consists of the biomineralized (“hard-part”) remains of once-living organisms. Very occasionally, exceptional depositional circumstances led to the preservation of “soft-body” remains, including appendages and traces of digestive, neural, and respiratory systems.

Until recently, what we could learn about the anatomy and biology of organisms from these “Lagerstätten” was limited by what could be exposed using traditional mechanical preparation. The advancement and increased availability of digital preparation and imaging methods, such as CT-scanning, has dramatically impacted our interpretations of these fossils. In this talk, Dr. Hopkins will describe recent work using CT scanning to re-examine museum specimens in order to better understand the structure and evolution of respiratory structures in trilobites and eurypterids.

In the case of trilobites, CT scanning of pyritized specimens from the famed Ordovician Beecher’s Bed locality in upstate New York revealed the 3D micron-scale structure of filaments associated with walking appendages. The shape of these filaments, in combination with the re-examination of the arrangement of appendages and filaments on trilobite specimens from specimens preserved in the Burgess Shale, provides evidence that these structures represented a well-developed gill and were unlikely to have served a locomotory functions as previously debated.

In the case of eurypterids, CT scanning of a complete phosphatized specimen from the Carboniferous Lydiennes Formation in France, revealed structures associated with subaerial breathing as well as 3D preservation of walking legs, genital appendages, and the digestive system. These findings have implications for our understanding of the evolution of arthropods, both on land and in the sea.




These are the meeting dates of the New York Paleontological Society for the 2020-2021 season. We normally meet at 2:00 P.M. in a room at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City (79th Street and Central Park West). However, due to the continuing covid-19 pandemic, the Museum is unable to assign any rooms for meetings for any groups through November. Exactly when the Museum will allow groups like our Society to reserve rooms is uncertain. It will depend on the status of covid and the relevant Museum and government policies pertaining to indoor meetings and our Society’s own judgement as to whether attendance will be safe for our members and attendees.

            But, since room availability may change, it has been decided to hold online meetings on the regular dates and times so that the schedule remains the same whether the meeting is in a room or online. One advantage of online meetings is that they will be recorded so members who can’t attend at the meeting time can view the whole meeting afterwards at their convenience.

As of this writing, all of the dates this year are on the third Sunday of the month, except September’s & December’s. The dates are as follows:

September 15, 2020
December 20, 2020
March 21, 2021
October 20, 2020
January 17,  2021
April 18, 2021
November 17, 2020
February 21, 2021
May 16, 2021




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