By R. J. Gangewere
Dec. 7, 2002 to Jan. 26,
SuperCroc not only lived with
the dinosaurs, it ate them.
feet long, with a weight of 10 tons, and massive 6-foot jaws, this was undoubtedly
one of the largest crocodilians ever to swim or walk upon the earth. It lived 110 million years ago in
Africa, when rivers coursed over what today are the blowing sands of
smart, energy-efficient, and powerful, this water's edge predator lived in
rivers, swamps, lakes, and even coastal regions. Its ancestry, like that of other
crocodilians, goes back to the Triassic period some 230 million years ago. Crocodilians predated the dinosaurs and
have had a remarkable adaptability to survive mass extinctions.
identified as Sarcosuchus imperator
(flesh crocodile emperor) by paleontologists in the 1960s, the species of
the monster called "SuperCroc" was discovered by fossil hunter
Paul Sereno and his team in 2000 in the sands of a fossil graveyard in
Niger, Africa. The nearly complete
6-foot jaws and 6-foot skull were found with scores of other Sarcosuchus remains, such as
vertebrae, limb bones, and armor plates.
Its full length had to be estimated from its head and jaws. SuperCroc had short, powerful teeth, and
probably lay in wait, largely submerged, with only its eyes and nose hole
showing, for prey on land to come to the water's edge. But it could also eat turtles, fish, and
other water animals.
speculate that this species lived only a few million years, and perhaps was
a relatively rare animal. Its size
put it at the top of the food chain, where it was subject to change in the
environment and the food supply. By
comparison, today's alligators, crocodiles, caimans, and gavials--all
crocodilians--can be relatively tiny creatures, although the largest
crocodiles still reach 20 feet in length.
research and exhibit were funded in part by the National Geographic
Society, which has an active website.
Find out more at: www.supercroc.com.
Honored with Highest Award from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology
Dawson of Carnegie Museum of Natural History has been named the 2002
recipient of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology’s (SVP) highest award,
the A.S. Romer – G. G. Simpson Medal.
Dawson is only the second woman, and first American woman, to receive
this award in its 25-year history.
A.S. Romer – G. G. Simpson Medal is presented annually to a person who has
“sustained an outstanding scholarly excellence and service to the
discipline of vertebrate paleontology.”
The medal will be presented at the SVP Annual Meeting on October 12
in Oklahoma City, OK.
is curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at Carnegie Museum of Natural History
and is celebrating her 40th year at the museum and 30th
as a curator. As head curator, she
is responsible for the fourth largest collection in North America. This collection includes more than
103,000 specimens from the Silurian to the Pleistocene eras, with a
worldwide geographical distribution.
The collection is still growing at a healthy pace and is considered
the finest Jurassic dinosaur collection in the world.
even though Dawson is responsible for the care and preservation of fossils
of some of the largest creatures ever to live, her own research focus is on
fossil mammals such as rodents and rabbits, with a concentration on early
Tertiary faunas and the evolution of species.
A.S. Romer – G. G. Simpson Medal is Dr. Dawson’s second award from
SVP. In 1999 she was named an
Honorary Member of SVP for her numerous contributions to the research
awards and honors include the 1981 prestigious Arnold Guyot Prize, awarded
by the National Geographic Society in recognition of her research in the
Arctic, which produced fossil evidence that North America and Europe were
linked and shared the same animal types 45 – 50 million years ago. In 1987, she was named a “Distinguished
Daughter of Pennsylvania” by then Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey. And in 1999, she received an honorary
Doctorate of Humane Letters from Chatham College in Pittsburgh.
native of Michigan, Dawson received her BS from Michigan State University
and her Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. She came to Carnegie Museum of Natural
History as a research associate in the section of Vertebrate Paleontology
in 1962 and was appointed curator in 1972.
She has also served as acting director of Carnegie Museum of Natural
History and is an adjunct professor, Department of Geology and Planetary
Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh.
The Spectacular Gem &
fifth Carnegie Gem & Mineral show will feature emeralds, in keeping
with section head Marc Wilson's plan to showcase each year a different
example of the world's most popular minerals. Last year the featured mineral was gold
and next year the emphasis will be on diamonds.
nationally for its high quality and creativity, the annual Gem &
Mineral Show has educational activities for children as well as
adults. Some 26 vendors will offer
specimens, jewelry, and artistic items for sale, and nearly 40 exhibitors
will display highlights of their collections. The Houston Museum of Natural Science
will show its emerald crystals, and vendors from rich emerald mining
locales in Columbia and North Carolina will display their wares.
Did you know…
The American Anthropology
Association began in Pittsburgh 100 years ago
American Anthropology Association was founded in Pittsburgh in 1902 through
the efforts of Dr. William J. Holland, the newly appointed Director of
Carnegie Museum of Natural History.
One of Holland's first initiatives
host the important 51st Annual Meeting of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science (AAAS), which was attended by such famous Pittsburgh
scientists such as inventor George Westinghouse and astronomer John
Brashear, as well as important scientists from across the United States.
the opening General Session of the AAAS in Carnegie Music Hall, the
anthropologists held their own special meeting to form their new American
Anthropology Association (AAA).
Perhaps because Holland was also a minister, the founding meeting of
AAA was convened in a nearby church.
result of the anthropology meetings was new support for Pittsburgh's Egypt
Exploration Fund, which led to the collections that the museum now has on
Tyrannosarus rex: a New Presence at Pittsburgh
at the Airside Terminal of Pittsbugh International Airport are now greeted
by the imposing T. rex that was
once displayed in the entrance corridor of the museum in Oakland. In the week of September 16, the museum's
replica T. rex, mounted in the scientifically correct
position--aggressively horizontal--was unveiled as a Pittsburgh icon at the
airport. Travelers will be reminded
that Pittsburgh is the "Home of the Dinosaurs," and that Carnegie
Museum of Natural History is one of the best places in the world to see the
real fossil specimens.
Botanist Cynthia Morton Joins
highly respected botanist and educator, Dr. Cynthia Morton, has been
appointed associate curator in the Section of Botany. Prior to coming to the museum, she was
director of the Freeman Herbarium at Auburn Museum, where she was actively involved in the Alabama State
Land division's project to database the collection. Her own research specialty is in the
botanical family Rutaceae, a
large tropical and economically important group including many citrus
fruits such as lemons, grapefruits, and oranges.
looks forward at the museum "to educating the region about the
museum's herbarium, why it is such a valuable community resource, and
eventually creating a virtual herbarium on the web." The museum's herbarium is among the top
25 in North America, with large holdings from the Upper Ohio Valley region,
and more than 500,000 specimens from around the globe.
Morton received her Doctorate from CUNY/ New York Botanical Garden,
completed a NATO postdoctoral fellowship at Kew Gardens, and a National
Environmental Research Council Fellowship in Reading University, UK, in
association with the British Museum of Natural History.
director Bill DeWalt is pleased to add a new "outstanding researcher
to our scientific staff," and looks forward to her initiating
collaborative efforts with the local botany community, and to her
databasing of the collection so that it can become more available to
researchers from around the world.