Antarctic vertebrate fossils topic of Jan. 27 lecture at Burpee Museum

Staff Report

Joshua Matthews, chief fossil preparator and research assistant at Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., will present “Dinosaurs ‘On the Rocks’: An exploration of Antarctic vertebrate fossils and new discoveries from the latest expedition to the Frozen Continent” at 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 27, at Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford.

Antarctica remains one of the most remote and harshest environments on Earth to conduct geological and paleontological fieldwork. Because of a very short field season where conditions are bearable and sunlight is available, work must be done fast before the sun begins to dip back below the horizon in February.

Although the rigors of working in this environment can take a toll on the body and mind, Antarctica plays a key role in the evolutionary and geologic history of the Earth. Like everywhere else in the world, dinosaurs and other animals roamed this region 200 million years ago, and their remains are preserved in the few rock exposures protruding through the ice.

Fieldwork in the region has been ongoing since the 1960s. However, the last decade has begun to give a better understanding of what life was like in Antarctica during this time.

Matthews will discuss the process and challenges of working in Antarctica and highlight the importance of past and recent paleontological discoveries on biogeographic distributions of early Gondwanan faunas with respect to Antarctica.

The event is free to members, free with paid admission to Burpee or $5 for the lecture only.

Dr. Brad Patterson of the Field Museum of Natural History will discuss “Tsavo Lions” at a 2 p.m., Feb. 24, lecture at Burpee.

For more about Burpee Museum of Natural History, visit

From the Jan. 23-29, 2013, issue

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