Tag Archives: biology

This Scientist Is OK- Kyle Davies

Kyle Davies is a paleontologist and a fossil preparator at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History. He builds the displays you see on the museum floor. He most recently helped prepare Aquilops americanus display which debuted in February.

Davies is one of those people who’s living a childhood dream. He says all he ever wanted to do was build fossil displays. How abut that? Now he’s doing it and that makes him an OK scientist.

It’s what’s in the Gut that matters

Scientists at the University of Oklahoma are getting international attention for research into what’s in your gut. Cecil Lewis and his team at the Laboratories of Molecular Anthropology and Microbiome Research at OU studied what’s inside the guts of a group of Norman residents and compared it to the guts of a hunter-gatherer society in the Amazon.

They found that the population of gut microbes of the people in the Amazon and city-dwellers in Norman have some significant differences. For example, one microbe called Treponema was not found in the Norman population but was found in the tribe of hunter-gatherers. This is a bacteria that has been in human and primate guts for millions of years.

“In our study, we show that these lost bacteria are in fact multiple species that are likely capable of fermenting fiber and generating short chain fatty acids in the gut.  Short chain fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties.  This raises an important question, could these lost Treponema be keystone species that explain the increased risk for autoimmunce disorders in industrialized people?  This is what we hope to explore next,” says Lewis.

You can read the research for yourself in nature.  Or you can read this article in Science Magazine by Ann Gibbons to see how researchers convinced the tribe in the Amazon to let them study their guts. (Let’s just say, sometimes science ain’t pretty.). Gibbons sums it up quite nicely about what this means and why this kind of research is important.

What is the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum?

We talk a lot about the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History here at SIO. This outstanding story is produced by the museum. It explains what it is, what it does, and how its mission serves Oklahoma.

This is a great look at why the Sam Noble Museum is unique and why Oklahoma is better off because of it.

The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is a fantastic place for the kids. Spend the day and learn all about Oklahoma’s rich history.

How you can help find Fossils

If you’ve ever wanted to work with fossils and help paleontologists make new discoveries this is the story for you. The Vertebrate Paleontology lab at the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa needs volunteers. You don’t need to have any experience, just a love for science. You’ll also get to work with Dr. Anne Weil.

Volunteers work Wednesday-Friday, 9 to 5 sifting through rock and soil looking for fossils.

Click here for a more information, as well as how to get in touch with the volunteer coordinator.

This Scientist is OK- Dr. Anne Weil

Dr. Anne Weil is a vertebrate paleontologist at the OSU Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa. Her specialty is looking at a “lost branch of mammalia” called multituberculates. They lived roughly 180 to 30 million years ago. Here’s an example.

She started college wanting to be a novelist but soon found herself taking geology and paleontology courses. Next thing you know she’s paleontologist researching fossilized mammal teeth.

She’s an OK scientist.

A Geologic Tour

Dr. Jim Derby is a geologist who has taught at the University of Tulsa and worked in the petroleum industry. He knows a thing or two about rocks.

He gave me a tour of the geology around his house. The cool thing is you can find similar features in the rocks at your home…fossils, traces of long dead organisms, maybe even some dino droppings.

Calling Future Paleontologists

Do you know a high schooler who loves fossils or wants to be a paleontologist? The Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History has a fantastic program aimed just for them. It’s called Paleo Expedition and the museum is looking for twelve kids to take part.

They’ll get hands on training at geological and paleontological sites in Oklahoma, including the famed Black Mesa site. Best of all, it’s free. As in $0 to attend! The deadline to apply is March 27th.

But wait, there’s more. The Sam Noble Museum has another program called Oklahoma Science Adventure for students in 6-8th grade. The goal is to show the kids what science is like out in the field. They’ll research fossils as well as live animals. It’s also free! 

I really could go on an on about the programs offered through the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum, they also have one just for teachers. But your best bet is to visit the museum’s explorology website. It’s chalk full on information for parents and teachers.

Bedbugs, Bats, and Cavemen

News On 6 in Tulsa had an interesting story about research being done on the evolution of bedbugs. It says Dr. Warren Booth, a University of Tulsa biology professor, has evidence that bedbugs first evolved to feed off bats in caves. Eventually, early humans lived in the caves and some bedbugs branched off to feed on the humans. The story refers to the early humans as cavemen and says bedbug evolution took place about 250,000 years ago. That would mean the “cavemen” could be Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, or even Neanderthals.

What I think is cool is how this story punctuates why it’s important to study evolution. Here’s a quote from the story, “We need to understand the evolutionary history of the organisms before we can bring it right down to what’s happening here,” said Booth. I’ve heard too many people question why we should study evolution. Dr. Booth says it right there, basically you have to know where you’ve been before you know where to go.

Thank you News On 6 for highlighting an Oklahoma scientist and the important research being done right here.

What Scientists Think About Science Education

So what do scientists think about science education in this country? I’ve talked with a number of Oklahoma scientists over the past several months and they all seem to say the same thing…not enough critical thinking and too much meddling by politicians. As one biology prof. told me, “If they stay out of it and let the teachers teach we’d be fine.”

This video has comments from four Oklahoma scientists. In order of appearance…

Dr. Richard Cifelli– Paleontologist, University of Oklahoma and Curator for the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History

Dr. Charles Brown– Biologist, University of Tulsa

Dr. Amanda Falk– Paleoornithologist- Southwestern Oklahoma State University

Dr. Richard Broughton– Assistant Professor at the Oklahoma Biological Survey and in the Department of Zoology at the University of Oklahoma