PaleoFest 2004—Feb. 21-22 speaker lineup

Burpee Museum of Natural History’s PaleoFest 2004 is Friday and Saturday, Feb. 21 and 22, with a special “members only” night Friday Feb. 20, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Friday event is for Burpee Museum members only.

With 12 speakers this year, PaleoFest should enchant anyone with an interest in dinosaur paleontology and related fields. I’m presenting them in alphabetical order, starting with Robber Bakker, Ph.D.

Baker, a dinosaur paleontologist, will present “T. Rex Family Values,” a dinosaur workshop at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 21. Bakker is the author of Raptor Red; he also wrote the earthshaking book, The Dinosaur Heresies. Bakker is on the JANE examination team that will try to decide her identity. Bakker is continually on the Discovery channel and was a consultant to the movie Jurassic Park. Bakker will then give a talk entitled “Tyrannosaur Behavior and Life” at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 22.

Luis Chiappe, Ph.D., curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, Los Angeles County Natural History Museum, will have a dinoblast workshop at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 22. His workshop is titled “How Do You Know Where to Dig?” Chiappe’s expertise is in the dinosaur-to-bird evolution theory. Chiappe found the biggest dinosaur nest egg site known to man; it stretches for miles and contains the eggs of a plant eater called Saltasaur. The nest site is in a badlands region of Argentina. Some of the eggs still contain fossilized embryos.

Allen Debus is a paleo artist and author of Paleoimagery and Dinosaur Memories. Debus will give a hands-on talk titled “Sculpting Dinosaurs From Scratch” at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 22. This is a studio event. Debus is well regarded and is one of a kind in a field where sculptors are vastly outnumbered by paleo painters.

Greg Erickson, Ph.D., is assistant professor of Anatomy and Dinosaur Paleontology at Florida State University. Erickson will have a dinoblast workshop at noon Feb. 21. His workshop is entitled “Breathing Life into Tyrannosaurux Rex.” Erickson will also speak at 3:15 Feb. 22. The talk, “Reconstructing Dinosaur Growth Patterns,” will end with new information about JANE’s age. Erickson determines the age of dinosaurs by counting growth rings in their bones, and he has counted JANE’s growth rings. This is similar to counting the growth rings in trees. Erickson’s growth studies started by carefully examining the growth rings in crocodiles and alligators, two reptiles related to dinosaurs.

Michael Henderson, curator of Earth Sciences at Burpee Museum of Natural History, will speak at 4:30 p.m. Feb. 22. Mike, the leader of Burpee’s JANE team, will talk about the ongoing research into JANE’s life and death. His talk is titled “JANE: An Unsolved Mystery?”

Kirk Johnson, Ph.D., is a paleo botanist and curator of the Paleontology Department of Earth Sciences, Denver Museum of Nature & Sciences. Johnson will have a dinoblast workshop at 2 p.m. Feb. 21. This workshop is titled “Dinosaurs Are Cool, But Fossil Plants Are More Fun to Find.” Johnson will then speak at 2 p.m. Feb. 22. His talk is titled “JANE’s Forest: Fossil Plants of the Hell Creek Formation.” By examining the plant remnants at JANE’s dig site, Johnson was able to pinpoint JANE’s historical age. See history being made when Johnson verifies where in the 65 to 67 million year age frame JANE actually lived.

Peter Macovicky, Ph.D., is curator of Dinosaurs, Chicago Field Museum of Natural History. Macovicky will speak at 11 a.m. on Feb. 21. His talk is titled “Dromaesaurs and Ornithominids”—the life and times of the flat-footed theropods (meat-eating dinosaurs) that competed for food and influence in JANE’s world. Peter Macovicky is an expert on the smaller theropods and has led research expeditions in Mongolia and Argentina. Macovicky is also part of the JANE research team.

Robert Masek, lead fossil preparator, University of Chicago, and Wendy Taylor, Ph.D., Sereno Dinolabs project manager at University of Chicago, will also speak. Both will lead a workshop at noon on Feb. 21. Title of the shop is “Collecting and Preparing Fossils.” This hands-on fossil preparation workshop is a must for fossil enthusiasts, students and professionals. Robert Masek helped prepare Sue, the T. rex who resides at the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History. Wendy Taylor will have a dinoblast workshop entitled “Collecting Illinois’ Famous Mazon Creek Fossils” at 10:30 a.m. Feb. 22.

David Peters, paleoartist, author, and artist who wrote Giants of Land, Sea and Air? Past and Present, will talk at 4 p.m. Feb. 21. His talk is titled “The Vampire and Other Pterosaur Ptreasures.” Peters will expound on an usuual Chinese pterosaur named the Jeholopterus, which had a diet of blood!! Was this a vampire dinosaur?

Bill Simpson, Ph.D., collections manager of the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, was lead preparator on the Sue project. His workshop is titled “Sue: Anatomy of a Dinosaur Project.” During the dinoblast workshop, Simpson will demonstrate how Sue, the T. rex, was prepared for research and display at the Field Museum of Natural History.

Mark D. Sutton, Ph.D., will talk at 2:30 p.m. Feb. 21st. His talk is titled “The Worms That Turned.” It’s a look at the preservation of 430 million-year-old, three-dimensional, soft-bodied fossils discovered in England and how they compare with those found in famous Mazon Creek, Ill.

Rod Myers is a local resident with an interest in the environment and disability issues. He has an associate’s degree in science and a bachelor’s in fine arts. Rod is a member of the Audubon Society, the Wild Ones Natural Landscapers and Rockford Amateur Astronomers, Inc.

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