University of Colorado Prof to Talk About Evidence of Primates, Alligators and Other Vertebrates in Eocene-Epoch Arctic

January 16, 2012

posted January 16, 2012

BRANDON, MB — Dr. Jaelyn J. Eberle, of the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Colorado, and Curator of Fossil Vertebrates at that University’s Museum of Natural History will be at Brandon University (BU), Friday, January 20 to talk about mammalian diversity in the early Eocene (55 to 34 million years ago) Arctic rain forests.

Dr. Eberle’s visit to BU is for a research collaboration with Dr. David Greenwood of BU’s Biology Department. Her research focuses on collecting and identifying the fossil remains of mammals and other vertebrates found in Eocene-age rocks in the Canadian High Arctic, as well as other parts of North America. Drs. Eberle and Grenwood note in their recent article that “today’s High Arctic is undergoing rapid warming, but the impact on its biota is not clear” and suggest that the Eocene age fossils from the Arctic offer “a climatic and ecologic deep time analog to better understand and predict the impacts of global warming on Arctic plants and animals.”

As part of Dr. Eberle’s research, she has reconstructed the lifestyles and ecology of these ancient mammals, employing a range of techniques such as comparative anatomy and the isotopic composition of their bones and teeth. Both scientists have focused their paleontological research on the Eocene because this geological time included the warmest conditions on the Earth in the last 100 million years, where this warmth allowed great forests of dawn redwoods to flourish across the Arctic islands. These Arctic rainforests were populated by alligators, tapirs, and the hippo-like mammal Coryphodon, animals that survived 6 months of darkness. According to Dr. Eberle: “In general, temperature estimates for the early Eocene Arctic are comparable to those in today’s temperate rainforests in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.”

This work is summarized in a recent invited review article co-authored by Drs. Eberle and Greenwood in the January-February 2012 issue of the publication entitled The Geological Society of America Bulletin, and is featured on the cover of the issue. To read that article, visit http://gsabulletin.gsapubs.org/content/124/1-2.toc?etoc

To hear Dr. Eberle address this issue, the public along with the Brandon University community is welcome to her seminar on Friday, January 20, beginning at 3 p.m. This free event will be held in Room 447, in the Brodie Building.
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For more information, please contact:

Joanne F. Villeneuve
Communications
Brandon University
270 – 18th Street
Brandon, MB R7A 6A9
Tel. 204-727-9762
villeneuvej@brandonu.ca

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