Showing posts from 2010

What ancient fossils can teach us about cancer today

When you think about cancer, you may think about how it has touched your life personally through a friend or a loved one. You may also consider how cancer is often in the news as novel treatments are tested daily. It seems to many, including medical students, that cancer is a disease affecting those in the here and now. While this is certainly the case, Chris Beard, Curator and Chair of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, encourages med students to learn more about the evidence for cancer in fossil animals. Not only does in give perspective on how old cancer really is (hundreds of millions of years at least), it also helps students understand cancer within an evolutionary context. Dr. Beard also hopes that, if given a dramatic example of cancer in fossils, medical students will be more likely to remember the experience and to correctly identify and diagnose cancer in future patients.

Fascinating stuff! More information and a great little video fe…

Utah Trip!

Hi everyone (all 3 of you),

Apologies are in order for the long break between posts. The week following my last post was finals week at WIU - always a crazy time. Since finals week, I have spent two weeks in Hanksville, Utah with the Burpee crew digging up dinosaurs and doing geology sleuth work in the field. The weather has been unbeatable, and our group is fantastic. Tomorrow is our last full day in the quarry before heading back to Macomb. I thought I would be remiss if I didn't post at least once while here.

We have found numerous new bones, including several partially articulated limb elements, pectoral and pelvic bones, ribs, verts, and a camarasaur dentary with other associated (possible) skull fragments. With the high rate of new bone discoveries, efficient mapping has become a high priority and dominates the days of several of our team members. Additionally, we are starting to get a good sense of what occurred at our site ecologically, and we've been able to supp…

Some good books to consider

In order to prepare for teaching portions of the WIU paleo field course, I've been perusing the two class texts: Dinosaurs: A Very Short Introduction by David Norman and Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau by Ron Blakey and Wayne Ranney (both can be found on and Amazon as well).
Dinosaurs is a familiar text for me, as we've used it for a couple of years now. It is a quick read with some general science history about how and why dinosaur paleontology/paleobiology have been shaped into the professions they are today. Additionally, as Norman is an expert on hadrosaurs, he uses duck-billed dinos frequently as examples to illustrate major dinosaur research topics such as histology (LAGs, growth charts, poikilo/homeothermy), EPB and soft tissue reconstruction, molecular/protein analysis, FEA, etc.

I have yet to read the second book, Ancient Landscapes, all the way through, but the artwork has already proven impressive. I am especially excited to see that the aut…