dinosaur museum

February 2019 Newsletter

FROM THE EDUCATION DESK

I hope January was a wonderful month and a good start for your New Year. To add some fun to your calendar how about celebrating these unusual holidays in February…Groundhog Day on Feb. 2nd, Ice Cream for Breakfast Day on Feb. 4th, Boy Scout Anniversary Day on Feb. 8th, Feb. 9th is National Read in the Bathtub Day, Feb. 12th is Darwin Day (he was born 203 yrs. ago), and National Pancake Day is on Feb. 28th. Have Fun !

FYI: Galagadon nordquistae
Sharks are some of the most successful creatures to ever live. Their fossil record goes back about 400 million years.

An illustration showing what Galagadon would have looked like in life, swimming along the river floor. (Velizar Simeonovski / Field Museum)

This tiny, flat-headed shark (carpet shark) swam in a river some 67 million years ago in modern-day South Dakota. Volunteer Karen Nordquist, was scanning the sediment found years ago alongside the Field Museum’s famous T. rex SUE, when she noticed teeth shaped like the pixelated spaceships from the 1980s game “Galaga”. A paper describing this shark appeared in The Journal of Paleontology this week. This newly discovered shark was named after both “Galaga” and Karen Nordquist, a retired chemist. “These teeth are the size of a sand grain,” said Terry Gates, who is the co-author of the paper. Since a shark’s skeleton is made of cartilage it was not preserved said co-author Pete Makovicky, the Field Museum’s curator of dinosaurs.

“Galagadon was less than two feet long and likely had a flat face and was very likely camouflage-colored, since its relatives today have a camouflage pattern.” Its jagged teeth were suitable for eating snails and crawdads found in the river where it was swimming. The discovery so near a T.rex has made scientists rethink what they knew about the area where SUE lived. Until now, it seemed that the body of SUE was deposited in a lake that had been created by a nearly-dried-up river. It was thought to be a relatively self-contained habitat. The presence of a shark species only known in ocean environments indicates that the river was likely connected to the sea, allowing Galagadon and other species to swim inland. Without the shark teeth, paleontologists would have missed this watery connection. Every new discovery from the Cretaceous period, no matter how small, enriches scientists’ understanding of that period. “There is no way for us to understand what changed in the ecosystem during the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous without knowing all the wonderful species that existed before,” Gates said.

Education Director
Geri LeBold

“Life’s biggest question is whether or not you’re happy – not with others, but with yourself.”-unknown

 

Leave a Reply

Recent Comments