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MSU Paleontology Research Takes International Bent


MSU paleontologists have helped unearth and study fossils from around the world.
"I think it's great. I think it shows that paleontology at MSU is having an effect on the world," Horner commented.

Jackson added, "It's really Jack's exposure that's allowed us to have this multidisciplinary approach. Between MSU and the Museum (of the Rockies), we have incredible facilities."

"I would agree wholeheartedly," said Schweitzer who praised Horner for his role in opening the doors for other MSU paleontologists.

The Patagonia site which brought Jackson to fame was discovered in 1998 and yielded rare embryonic bone, fossilized skin from embryos and thousands of dinosaur eggs. Jackson studied the fossilized egg shells and helped prove that the fossilized embryos belonged to sauropods instead of birds or other reptiles. Jackson was also one of six scientists who described the site in the Nov. 19, 1998, issue of the journal Nature. Photographs from the expedition appeared a month later in National Geographic.



Frankie Jackson, James Schmitt, Mary Schweitzer and Dave Varricchio (from left) finally gather in one spot in Montana.
"I think this is a very exciting discovery. Extremely important," Horner commented at the time.

Jackson was asked to join the expedition by Luis Chiappe of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. She is especially interested, Jackson said, in the "paleosols," or ancient soils that contained the eggs.

The African site is a dinosaur bone bed in Niger, the country north of Nigeria. Varricchio was a member of an expedition led by Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago and traveled to Niger in 1997. His job was to interpret the geological setting and see how the fossils were preserved.

"I was in charge of gathering data on where the fossils were and how they might have gotten there," Varricchio said. "My responsibilities included mapping the bones and skeletons within the quarries, as well as describing the sediments from which they came. This is important in the interpretation of ancient environments."
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