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NYC - Lecture Series w/ Kevin Bohacs

Tracking dinosaurs and other dead things—
reconstructing the behavior of extinct animals from fossil spoor

Presented by Kevin M. Bohacs, Sc.D., LF '05, FGSA, FGS, FRGS

“There is no branch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps”
—Sherlock Holmes, 1891, A Study in Scarlet.

Fossil bones and shells reveal a lot about how an animal looked, but tell little about how it behaved: walked, ran, crawled, limped, ate, slept, farmed, etc. Fossilized spoor—tracks, trails, burrows, coprolites, and other trace fossils provide insight into animal activities, how they interacted with each other and with their ecosystem, and even when hominins first walked on two feet. These traces are also essential in reconstructing details of their paleo-environments: how much it rained, where the shoreline was, how deep the water was, and how sticky the mud was. We can calculate how fast dinosaurs ran, interpret whether they were warm or cold blooded, and conjecture the social structure of their herds based on their trackways. Many of these trackways are found around ancient lake deposits, and associated insect and other invertebrate traces enable us to reconstruct many aspects of the lake system: salinity, bottom-water oxygen levels, groundwater table stability, lateral extent, food-web structure, and species diversity. The first and best evidence of the social behavior of insects (ants, bees, termites) comes from fossilized nests in alluvial mudstones and petrified wood.

Fossil spoor is much more abundant than body fossils and readily recognized once you are aware of it. Follow in the footsteps of such Explorer Club greats as Roy Chapman Andrews, R.T. Bird, and Ernest Thompson Seton and join Life Fellow Kevin M. Bohacs as we learn how to recognize these trace fossils and to use these skills on your expeditions. We will discuss the fundamentals of identification and interpretation and the insights provided into paleo-environments. We will then practice on examples from Madagascar, Libya, Argentina, Wyoming, and Nyack, NY and examine hands-on fossil footprints, beetle burrows, termite nests, arthropod trails, and dinosaur poo. Join us and add a new dimension to your understanding and appreciation of the rocks you tramp over.

Kevin M. Bohacs LF ’05 is a Senior Research Scientist with ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company whose work integrates many scales of field and laboratory investigation, from plate tectonics to molecular geochemistry, to quantitatively reconstruct the climate, oceanography, tectonics, and ecosystems of ancient depositional systems ranging from deep ocean to swamps and lakes. An Eagle Scout, Dr Bohacs was graduated from the University of Connecticut with a B.Sc. (Honors) in Geology and earned an Sc.D. in Experimental Sedimentology from M.I.T., constructing and running the world’s largest flume. He has conducted fieldwork and training on six continents and in more than thirty countries from the high Arctic to the tropics and written more than 99 scientific contributions on the stratigraphy and sedimentology of mudstones, hydrocarbon source and reservoir rocks, and continental depositional systems (lakes, coals, paleosols, fluvial-floodplain systems, and insect burrows). Dr Bohacs is the co-author and editor of books on sequence stratigraphy, lacustrine hydrocarbon reservoirs, and field safety. He has received many best paper citations and awards and served as distinguished lecturer for several societies nationally and internationally. At the Explorers Club, he has conducted several Expedition Seminars on field safety and emergency response, with Susan Mitterling, his wife and number-one fossil finder.

“Each of these dotted lines, called the trail, is a wonderful, unfinished record of the creature’s life during the time it made the same, and it needs only the patient work of the naturalist to decipher that record and from it learn much about the animal that made it, without that animal ever having been seen.”
—Ernest Thompson Seton (MR1907), 1911
First Chief Scout, Boy Scouts of America

Date: 12/16/2013

Time: 6:00 Reception, 7:00 Lecture

Location: NYC Headquarters, 46 E70th Street, NY, NY, 10021

Member Ticket Price: Free

Guest Ticket Price: $20

Student Ticket Price:

Free for EC Student Members, $5 w/ a valid Student ID

Reservation Notes:

Reservations are secured on a first-come, first-serve basis.

To secure a reservation, call us at 212.628.8383 or email us at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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