Vertebrate Paleontology

Global warming spawned the age of reptiles

Global warming spawned the age of reptiles

August 19, 2022

Studying climate change-induced mass extinctions in the deep geological past allows researchers to explore the impact of environmental crises on organismal evolution. One principal example is the Permian-Triassic climatic crises, a series of climatic shifts driven by global warming that occurred between the Middle Permian (265 million years ago) and Middle Triassic (230 million years ago). These climatic shifts caused two of the largest mass extinctions in the history of life at the end of the Permian, the first at 261myo and the other at 252myo, eliminating 86% of all animal species...

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Analysis of fossil sheds light on reptile evolution

Analysis of fossil sheds light on reptile evolution

September 2, 2021

Tiago Simões, a researcher in the Stephanie Pierce lab and former Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Postdoctoral Fellow, knew he found something special when he examined a fossil specimen collected decades ago. The fossil belongs to a previously unknown species of lizard-like reptile, representing the earliest evolving member of a lineage that today includes all lizards, snakes, and their closest relatives. The research was published in...

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illustration showing Two Late Devonian early tetrapods coming out of the water to move on land

MCZ researchers reconstruct the evolution of terrestrial movement in early tetrapods

December 1, 2020
Stephanie Pierce, MCZ Faculty-Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, and Blake Dickson, Ph.D. ’20 analyzed 40 3D fossil humeri to better understand the transition from fin-to-limb and reconstruct the evolution of terrestrial movement in early tetrapods. The work is published in Nature and featured in the... Read more about MCZ researchers reconstruct the evolution of terrestrial movement in early tetrapods
Lab 3D screenshot

Vertebrate Paleontology rallies to create virtual labs for OEB course

May 4, 2020
Phil Fahn-Lai, Stephanie Pierce Lab grad student and OEB Teaching Fellow, rose to the challenge when all Harvard courses went online earlier this spring. A significant component to OEB 126 Vertebrate Paleontology, is handling MCZ fossils during in-person labs. When Phil learned students would no longer be on campus for these labs, he spent his last few days on campus scanning as many fossil specimens as possible. He then designed an interactive website... Read more about Vertebrate Paleontology rallies to create virtual labs for OEB course
fossil in jacket

Now accepting applications for Vertebrate Paleontology Technician and Preparator

February 3, 2020

The MCZ is now accepting applications for a Vertebrate Paleontology Technician and Preparator. 

The Vertebrate Paleontology Technician and Preparator operates and manages the Paleontology Preparation Laboratory and cares for fossils in the vertebrate paleontology collection. Research priorities of the department are established by the Faculty-Curator, Stephanie Pierce.

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