Montana State University

Department of Earth Sciences

Montana State University
226 Traphagen Hall
P.O. Box 3480
Bozeman, MT 59717

Tel: (406) 994-3331
Fax: (406) 994-6923

Department of Earth Sciences
Dinosaur Paleontology

David J. Varricchio, PhD

Associate Professor, Paleontology

Contact Information                                         Education
Office:   Traphagen Hall #207                         B.S., Cornell University, 1984
Phone:   (406) 994-6907                                  M.S., University of Georgia, 1989
Email:                              Ph.D., Montana State University, 1995

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My research focuses on the biology of dinosaurs and largely involves theropods (the group of primarily carnivorous dinosaurs that includes birds) from the Cretaceous of Montana and abroad (China, Africa, Argentina). Where possible, I try to blend anatomic and geologic data within a broader evolutionary context.
 Currently, I have three main areas of research: taphonomic studies, the dinosaur Troodon, and dinosaur
reproduction, particularly the theropod-bird lineage. Ongoing taphonomic studies include 1) the description
of a novel ornithomimid bonebed from Inner Mongolia with Paul Sereno (U. Chicago); 2) a study of small
theropod taphonomy in the Two Medicine Formation of Montana; and 3), as part of a team of researchers,
 the re-evaluation of a Maiasaura bonebed using detailed palynologic and geochemical sampling. Several
Troodon-related projects continue in an attempt to formulate as complete a picture of a single dinosaur
species as possible. Having finished work on Troodon nests, eggs, and embryos, in progress work on
this dinosaur includes ontogenetic and osteologic description, re-examination of growth using bone histology
 with Greg Erickson (Florida State U.), and the documentation of pathologies with Rebecca Hanna (Choteau,
 MT). The last project still in its incipient stage entails the documentation of reproductive features within the
theropod-bird lineage and across the K/T boundary.  (Publications)

Frankie D. Jackson, PhD
Assistant Research Professor, Paleontology                                                                                                               fjeggs2

Contact Information                                       Education
Office:   Traphagen Hall #204                       B.A., University of Montana, 1992
Phone:   (406) 994-6642                                PhD, Montana State University, 2007

The study of fossil eggs, dinosaur reproductive biology and paleoecology, and the evolution of reproductive traits
in birds represents the focus of my research.  Fossil egg arrangement and microscopic study of eggshell structure
(including calculation of water vapor conductance rates) provide important information on dinosaur reproductive
biology and physiology.  In addition, sedimentologic study of nesting horizons and assessment of diagenesis
provide evidence for paleoenvironmental interpretation of Late Cretaceous nesting sites.  Currently, my research
focuses on modern archosaurian (crocodilians and birds) nesting sites in Florida and the Pacific northwest and
fossil egg localities in the western United States, China, and Spain.  Additional research includes taphonomy of
a T.rex locality in eastern Montana and earth science education. In addition, I  teach earth sciences to teachers on
two Montana reservations (Publications)

James G. Schmitt, PhD
Associate Professor, Sedimentology/Stratigraphy

Contact Information                                         Education
Office:   Traphagen Hall #109                         B.S., University of Michigan, 1977jim
Phone:   (406) 994-6903                                  M.S. University of Wyoming, 1979
Email:                     Ph.D., University of Wyoming, 1982

My research interests in paleontology include taphonomy of bone beds and nesting grounds,
deciphering processes of fossil preservation, and paleoenvironmental reconstruction of  fossil-bearing
strata, including both vertebrate and invertebrate fossils in marine and terrestrial deposits.  The theme
of my work is applying principles of sedimentary geology to understanding the strengths and limitations
of the fossil record. (Publications)


John R. Horner, PhD
Regents Professor of Paleontology

Contact Information                                       Educationjrh2
Email:                    Geology/Paleontology, University of Montana
Museum of the Rockies                                 Honorary Doctorate, University of Montana
Montana State University                               Honorary Doctorate, Pennsylvania State  2006       

I am presently interested in dinosaur evolution and ecology, with emphases on gorwth and behavior. 
Studies are conducted in the field where we host the largest paleontological field program in the country,
and maintain two laboratories, one for the study of cellular and molecular paleontology, and the other for
3-D imaging utilizing data from CT and 3-D scanners. Students whose committees I chair have full access
to both laboratories, and are encouraged to spend at least one summer in the field.(Publications)