2015 Archives

KERA: What is a vertebrate paleontologist?

The 75th anniversary meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is being held in Dallas

October 15, 2015

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is meeting in Dallas and KERA public radio reporter Kat Chow set out to discover what is a "vertebrate paleontologist."Society of Vertebrate Paleontology

She interviewed Professor Louis Jacobs, a world-renowned vertebrate paleontologist in SMU's Roy M. Huffington Department of Earth Sciences and president of the University's Institute for the Study of Earth and Man.

"We specialize in animals with backbones, and how they’re preserved in the rocks, and what they mean, and what they tell us about how the earth got to be the way it is," said Jacobs, whose recent identification of a new species of marine mammal is causing a stir at the conference.

Listen to Chow's interview. audio icon  or read her story.

As the society points out in its brochure for the conference: "The great state of Texas is fortunate to encompass a broad spectrum of geological regions, providing a diverse range of paleontological exploration and discoveries within the state.  From the classic Permian redbeds of north-central Texas, to the fossil-rich Late Triassic exposures of the Texas Panhandle, Cretaceous exposures from the Big Bend region of western Texas stretching across the state beyond Dallas and Austin, through the broad expanse of Cenozoic coastal plain deposits in the south and east, and a rich Pleistocene record all across the state, Texas provides a remarkable breadth of paleontological opportunities.

"Even within a two-hour’s drive from Dallas one can find Permian, Early Cretaceous, Late Cretaceous, Paleogene, and Pleistocene vertebrate fossil-bearing sites," it said.