The Dinosaur Institute team recently returned from a three-week dinosaur dig in the Jurassic outcrops of Utah.
This bone is a humerus (upper arm bone) of a long necked brachiosaur. It takes a lot of work to clean a bone this big.
We are currently studying a new species of an ornithischian dinosaur (lower jaw pictured above). It is the smallest known dinosaur from North America and one of the tiniest dinosaurs ever found.
As the Director of the Dinosaur Institute, Dr. Luis Chiappe supervises all of the Dinosaur Institute's programs. His expertise is centered around the evolution of archosaurs, a group of reptiles that includes crocodiles, pterosaurs (flying reptiles), dinosaurs and their descendants, the birds. Most of his research takes him all over the world and is strongly based on field work. Over the last 20 years, he has conducted field work in the United States, Argentina, Mongolia, China, and Kazakhstan. One of the core programs of his research is the origin and early evolution of birds. Together with his students and associates, he has documented the existence of numerous species of Mesozoic birds and nonavian theropod dinosaurs, and has provided detailed analyses of their genealogical relationships. The foundation provided by these genealogical studies has led to inferences about the evolution of many attributes of birds, and it has helped decipher the evolutionary steps taken between the dinosaurian forerunners of early birds and their modern counterparts. Another important program of his research activities deals with the reproductive behavior and development of sauropod dinosaurs. Much of this work has been centered in the exceptional sauropod nesting site of Auca Mahuevo in Patagonia (Argentina), a site he and his associates discovered in 1997. Futhermore, Dr. Chiappe is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California and a Fellow of both the John Simon Guggenheim and the Alexander Humboldt Foundations.
As an Associate Curator in the Dinosaur Institute, Dr. Nathan Smith supervises the Dinosaur Institute staff and conducts paleontological research in support of the Institute's programs. Originally from Crystal Lake, Illinois, Nate grew up fascinated with dinosaurs, science, and baseball. He received his B.A. in Biology from Augustana College, a M.S. in Geoscience from the University of Iowa, and a Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from the University of Chicago. Nate also served as a postdoctoral research scientist at the Field Museum of Natural History and an Assistant Professor of Biology at Howard University before joining the Natural History Museum in 2015. Paleontological fieldwork has taken Nate to Antarctica, Argentina, China, and the southwestern and western United States. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and National Geographic, and focuses on the evolution and biogeography of Triassic–Jurassic dinosaurs, Cenozoic waterbirds, scleractinian corals, and the application of phylogenetic comparative methods to broad questions in systematic biology and paleontology. The origin and initial diversification of dinosaurs represents one of the most poorly known events of vertebrate evolution, and much of Nate's recent research in Ghost Ranch, New Mexico and the Central Transantarctic Mountains has helped to fill major geographic, temporal, and taxonomic gaps in our understanding of early dinosaurs and the world they inhabited. These studies have received international press coverage, and Nate's collaborative Ghost Ranch field program was featured in the 2007 3-D IMAX® movie, “Dinosaurs Alive!”
To watch the CNN Interview, click here.
As Supervisor of the Dino Lab, Doug Goodreau is responsible for training, advising, and directly assisting the DI staff and a large number of volunteers. With over 15 years of experience, he has organized crews and equipment for national and international field expeditions in an effort to help build our dinosaur collection. His team does everything from prospecting, discovering, documenting, and collecting fossil material which is then brought into the lab and cleaned thoroughly using state-of-the-art equipment, materials, and techniques. These fossil materials are often molded, cast, and painted for exhibition or exchanged with other institutions.
His service in the United States Marine Corps after high school prepared him well for the many harsh conditions often faced when doing fieldwork. He also pursued careers in special effects makeup and as an embalmer, specializing in restorative art (the reconstruction of severely traumatized human remains). These skills are well supplemented by college studies in geology and biology. For Goodreau, it is hard to fathom how his childhood fascination with dinosaurs would come full circle with the fossil preparation work at the Dinosaur Institute.
As Collections Manager, Maureen Walsh is able to draw from over 14 years of professional experience in museum curation, environmental mitigation and fossil preparation to evaluate and maintain the Mesozoic collection here at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. In this capacity, she participates in the best of what the Dinosaur Institute has to offer: great educational programs, global research collaboration with high impact results, and world-class studies in avian evolution and systematics. Walsh’s research interest includes the micro-preparation and study of Mesozoic birds. Since joining the Dinosaur Institute, she has prepared numerous avian specimens from the famous Jehol Biota of Liaoning, China, for institutions such as the Beijing Natural History Museum, the Dalian Museum of Prehistory, the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, the Mongolian Paleontological Center, Ulaanbaatar and the Museu Historia Natural Taubate, Sao Paulo, Brazil.
As illustrator and photographer for the Dinosaur Institute, Stephanie Abramowicz merges scientific research with artistic sensibility. Working with the Dinosaur Institute since 2006, she has produced images for museum exhibits and both scientific and popular publications that help in the interpretation and visualization of scientific findings. Her illustrations are enriched by regular involvement in field work with the Dinosaur Institute which includes prospecting, mapping, documenting, and excavating fossil remains. Abramowicz has a background in fine arts and holds a BFA from the Roski School of Fine Arts at the University of Southern California.
Originally from Adelaide, South Australia, Cripps has a background in special effects makeup and photography. With a childhood love of dinosaurs, Robert Cripps began as a volunteer for the Dinosaur Institute and was quickly hired as a paleontological preparator. Drawing on his background, Cripps greatly contributed to the new hall by photographing many of the specimens used in the interactive fossil wall and preparing many of the specimens on display.
He has always held a strong appreciation for the earth sciences, and enjoys working as a team player in this fascinating department. For Cripps, everyday yields a high degree of satisfaction from being involved in such important work at one of North America's finest museums.
Karl Urhausen received a BFA in painting from California State University, Long Beach. His great love of the past has led him to diverse fields of interests from Contraptionaria, to fine model building, miniatures and instrument making. He has a background in painting, sculpture and antiquities conservation, with an emphasis on the preservation of leather and wood. As a preparator for the Dinosaur Institute, Urhausen has been called upon to utilize a full range of skills. His expertise as a skilled welder was instrumental in restoring the Carnotaurus specimen on the locomotion platform in the new Dinosaur Hall. He was also instrumental in the conservation of the juvenile Edmontosaurus, and the reconstruction of the missing elements of the Stegosaurus. To him, every specimen presents a series of challenges that requires unique solutions. The Dinosaur Hall is filled with many of Urhausen's creative and unique solutions to specimens on exhibit.
For Erika Canola, being a paleontological preparator means that every day is filled with excitement and adventure. Her interest in fossils, especially dinosaurs, came from her experiences as a volunteer and research intern with the Dinosaur Institute at NHM. Her ability to maintain focus and attention to detail helps her to be precise while working on fossils. Canola regularly participates in fieldwork which has taken her to Utah, the Mojave Desert, and the Petrified Forest in Arizona. Her academic background in physical anthropology and professional experience in hair and makeup allows for a unique perspective on various approaches to fossil preparation. She also participated in the Dinosaur Institute Outreach Program “OEDG” and has successfully used these skills to assist new students of this program.
Watch Erika describe her experiences in the field,
Jose Soler’s love for nature, his academic background in ecology, and previous volunteer work at NHM, led him to join the Dinosaur Institute team of scientists and researchers. Soler has a B.S in Natural Resources Management from the Universidad Estatal a Distancia, Costa Rica. He views the museum as a learning institution, where people of all ages, from different backgrounds and ethnicities, come to have fun learning. Working with dinosaur fossils is his life’s passion, and sharing it with museum visitors makes every day unique and fulfilling. To Soler, his participation in collecting fossils during expeditions and preparing them in the historic 4th floor lab unveils the secret life of dinosaurs and the environment in which they lived.
“My time in the Natural History Museum has given me the understanding that science alone is not enough to protect the invaluable treasures of the natural world from the past, present, and future. We also need an emotional connection to the natural world. When working on a dinosaur fossil or during a field trip, those two aspects come together and a powerful sense of wholeness awakes, making me feel respect, responsibility, and appreciation for the land.”