On May 23, Amy Henrici, collection manager and scientific preparator, Vertebrate Paleontology, will review over five decades of paleontological expeditions as part of Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s free lecture series at noon in the museum’s Earth Theater.
These expeditions, one most recently by the Carnegie Museum of Natural History (1989-present), have yielded a highly diverse assemblage of at least 16 species of fishes, sharks, amphibians, and reptiles. The fossils occur in the Rico and Halgaito formations, which span the Late Pennsylvanian-Early Permian boundary and were deposited on a low relief coastal plain, which experienced occasional marine incursions and was bisected by fluvial channels.
The bone bed covers an area of roughly 84 square feet and is densely packed with partially articulated skeletons and isolated bones, which most likely accumulated as a lag deposit at the mouth of a tributary to a main stream channel during a flood event. The large concentration of fossils necessitated the excavation of the bone bed in large blocks, using the century-old technique of encasing them in a plaster and burlap jacket. Once at the museum, the blocks were opened, and the bones were exposed, stabilized, and identified.
The lecture is a part of the R.W. Moriarty Science Seminar Series, a free lecture series established in March of 2010 by Dr. Richard Moriarty, a retired pediatrician and a former Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Currently, Moriarty is president of the Carnegie Discoverers, a volunteer group that supports Carnegie Museum of Natural History in promoting its cultural, scientific, and educational missions and in developing new audiences for the institution.