Tag Archives: fossils

Science Research in Oklahoma

There is so much science happening right under our noses here in eastern Oklahoma. The OSU Center for Health Sciences is just one example. You’ll find research into biomedical and forensic science, healthcare, medicine, and ,my personal favorite, paleontology.

The cool thing is OSU-CHS has a fantastic resource to help you stay on top of what they’re doing. They call it the Research Spotlight. There are videos and information all on kinds of topics. The video below is one example of the research taking place right here in Tulsa!

 

 

Adventures on Turkey Mountain

Turkey Mountain is a popular place to hike, walk, or ride a bike. Thousands of people go there every year but I wonder how many have stopped to think about the science that’s all around them.

Dr. Stanley Rice recently gave me a personal science tour of Turkey Mountain. He showed me tree fossils and explained that Turkey Mountain is the only place in Oklahoma where a certain oak tree grows. This just shows that science is everywhere. It’s also why you’ll often find me checking out rocks, I’m looking for fossils and evidence of ancient Earth.

This is important-If you find fossils on Turkey Mountain please do not remove them.

(Dr. Rice has been featured before on SIO…click here to see his impersonation of Charles Darwin.)

 

Tools for Digging up Dinos

Ever wonder what tools paleontologists use for digging up dinos? Wonder no more. Here’s the second video from my trip to the Oklahoma Panhandle. (Here’s the first.) It was part of the ExplorOlogy program sponsored by the Sam Noble Museum. We went to Kenton, OK and Black Mesa. It’s home to a ton of fossils from about 150 million years ago.

Dr. Lindsey Yann of the OSU Center for Health Sciences explains the main kinds of tools they use to dig up those fossils and why it’s important to study Oklahoma’s past.

Dr. Yann is the volunteer coordinator for the Vertebrate Paleontology lab in Tulsa. It’s a great place to volunteer if you want to see fossils up close but can’t make it to the Panhandle.

Thanks again to the scientists at the Sam Noble Museum and the OSU Center for Health Sciences for inviting me on this trip.

Free Science Workshop for Teachers

Attention all elementary and middle school teachers…here’s a great opportunity to learn about life sciences and do a little fossil hunting.

Janessa Doucette is a PhD candidate at the University of Oklahoma. She’s hosting a free workshop series called Oklahoma Educators Evolve. It’ll take place on Saturday Oct. 17th and Saturday Oct. 24th. The first one is a fossil hunting trip to the rich grounds at White Mound in Sulphur. The second is a workshop in Oklahoma City. You’ll study the nature of science, biological concepts, and paleontology, “We will provide you with a foundation for these concepts, as well as provide you with a variety of ways to successfully teach these topics in your classroom. Participants will leave this workshop with their very own classroom collection of fossils and fossil casts with which to enjoy science learning with their students!”

IMG_0327

The cool thing is these workshops are FREE and you don’t have to be a science teacher!!! Click here to register. Click here to learn about the program.

OKEEflyer

 

Another New Dino

I’ve been busy working on a project but there’s always time to talk about the latest dinosaur find. That illustration above is Yi qi. It was found in China and dates back to 160 million years ago.

It’s unique because it’s a theropod that has wings similar to a bat. You can see its long bones in the hand region used to support the wing membrane.

Dr. Jerry Coyne has a great write-up on it on his blog at Why Evolution is True. (Which is also the name of his outstanding book on evolution. It’s a great read to help you get a better understanding of evolution.)

This is what I love about science. It seems everyday a new discovery is made which brings up more and more questions, which spurs more and more research.

New Dinosaur Discovered

Illustration by Gabriel Lio

Illustration by Gabriel Lio

A new dinosaur has been discovered and it has paleontologists excited because it belongs to a lineage of herbivores that no one knew existed. It’s called Chilesaurus diegosuareziIts name comes from the country where it was found, combined with the name of the seven year old boy who discovered it.

Chilesaurus was a theropod but, unlike most other theropods, it was a plant eater. It’s also unusual because it had characteristics of other dinosaurs but it belonged to a separate group of dinos. Martin Ezcurra is one of the scientists who worked on the project. He describes Chilesaurus like this, “Its skull and neck look like those of primitive long-necked dinosaurs like Plateosaurus; the vertebrae resemble those of primitive meat-eating theropods such as Dilophosaurus; the pelvis is very similar to that of ornithischian dinosaurs such as Iguanodon; and the hand has only two well-developed fingers as in Tyranosaurus Rex, but with a longer arm.” 

Click here to read more of Ezcurra’s description of the ID process. This article has a great picture of the Chilesaurus’ fossilized teeth.

Brian Switek has a fantastic article on the discovery here.

And here’s a writeup from National Geographic.

Have Fun with Aquilops

It’s been a while since we’ve checked in with Aquilops americanus. That’s the small horned dinosaur found in Montana by a team that included Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History paleontologist Dr. Richard Cifelli.

The tiny fossil is now on display at the museum, but what better way to celebrate this historic find than to have your own version…sort of.

Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week is the place to go for the latest news on this awesome little creature. They’ve also passed on some most outstanding ways you can make Aquilops your own. Click here to see how you can make hand puppets, 3D models, even a baby Aquilops for the kiddos. It’s all very cool and a great way to teach kids about dinosaurs.

This Scientist Is OK- Dr. Stanley Rice

Dr. Stanley Rice is a botanist and professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant. He’s one of the more active scientists in Oklahoma in terms of public outreach. He works with Oklahomans for Excellence in Science Education and he’s well known for channeling his inner Charles Darwin (check it out at the 1:50 mark) and click here to go to his YouTube channel.

Dr. Rice loves science and has made it his life mission to share his passion. He says, “What’s most important to me is that people can understand why science is important and how that fits in with their lives and their responsibility to all of humankind and to all the world. All the little things we do matter and science helps us understand how those little things matter.”

 

 

Camp Quest

Here’s a great chance for you and your child to learn about science and take in the great outdoors this summer. It’s called Camp Quest. The camp focuses on science and caters to the non-religious. Here’s how it’s described on its website, “The purpose of Camp Quest is to provide children of freethinking parents a residential summer camp dedicated to improving the human condition through rational inquiry, critical and creative thinking, scientific method, self-respect, ethics, competency, democracy, free speech, and the separation of religion and government.” 

The kids learn about everything from DNA to biology. They also go canoeing and learn archery. I spent some time at the camp back in my TV days and it looks like a lot of fun. Click here to see that story from 2013.

You can register for the camp here. They’re also looking for adult volunteers. Check out what the president of Camp Quest Oklahoma posted on Facebook about her experience as a volunteer, “I’ve watched these same children blossom from shy, quiet, and immature kids to outspoken and proud young adults. The best part is returning and seeing these kids year after year and seeing how they’ve grown and matured. These kids let me know that they are going to change this world into a better place.

Got STEM?

Phil Plait is the Bad Astronomer and writes for Slate. He wrote a short post about the need for STEM education and critical thinking in the U.S.

Check it out here.

There’s a fantastic video in that article about a talk at TEDx so be sure to click over there and take a peak. You’ll notice at the top of Plait’s post is a picture of that senator with a snowball, Jim Inhofe. So sad that one of our state’s leaders has become the poster child for a lack of critical thinking.