A Symposium on the Nature of Science

DINOSAURS AND DEEP TIME: THE SCIENCE AND ART OF RECONSTRUCTING THE PAST

Paul C. Sereno
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How do we reconstruct past events or scenes from deep time? Where is the science, if the direct observation or experimentation is not possible? Paleontologists and geologists use a variety of inferential methods to limit the number of plausible explanations and distill patterns from historical events. Mapping the course of dinosaur evolution on drifting continents and understanding the sequence of events that led to the evolution of avian flight characterize science in deep time.

Paul Sereno
Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy
University of Chicago

Paul Sereno is internationally known for his research in large-scale, long-term evolution in the terrestrial realm. During fragmentation of the supercontinent Pangea, dinosaurs dominated terrestrial habitats and evolved into a spectacular array of land and aerial forms. Integration and analysis of extensive data from widespread fossil collections and global geologic compilations will yield (1) a high-resolution, temporally-calibrated phylogeny for dinosaurs and early avians and (2) insights into the large-scale patterns and trends in vertebrate evolution on land.

Paul Sereno and educator Gabrielle Lyon launched Project Exploration as a proactive and creative way to reduce the distance between science and the public. The project involves students and teachers directly with scientists and their research; provides innovative, hands-on experiments to city kids; and inspires student populations that are underrepresented in paleontology and the natural sciences profession.

Professor Sereno grew up in Naperville and studied art and biology at Northern Illinois University. A behind-the-scenes tour through the fossil collection of the American Museum of Natural History in New York clarified his next career move—he left for the Big Apple to study vertebrate paleontology at the American Museum, eventually earning his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1987.


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