Associate News Editor
On Oct. 24, paleontologist Paul Sereno gave a free public presentation at Millersville University’s Winter Center. Sereno discussed his decades worth of fossil excavation experiences along with his future plans for expanding his techniques onto more generations of learners.
Sereno began his paleontology career in the 1980s. Earning a doctoral degree at Columbia University and the American Museum of Natural History, Sereno studied dinosaur bones in both China and Mongolia. Sereno became employed by the University of Chicago in 1987, later instructing courses on paleontology and evolution.
At the latter end of the 1980s, Sereno and his team evaluated Argentina, scoping the Andes to discover unknown prehistoric species. In this expedition, the explorers discovered the “eoraptor,” which is believed to be the earliest dinosaur species to roam within the planet.
In the presentation, Sereno discussed his over three decades of travels and excavational studies. The explorer detailed his numerous findings throughout China, Mongolia, South America, Tibet, and Africa. With his latest expedition in Africa, Sereno found fossils dating back to over 5,000 years, one fossil was the Nigersaurus. In multiple cases, the positioning of the fossils also supplied hints of their activities prior to death. One example is a group of takasarouses being near complete in their biological builds due to being imprisoned within a mud trap.
One issue common in paleontology is the need to estimate other factors of the discovered dinosaur, such as organ structure; yet, technology allows for more accurate theories on unknown dinosaur biology. For example, Sereno discusses how performing a cat scan on a set of fossils allows for modeling the shape of the species’ brain.
Technology also allows for modeling videos on the species behavior. Sereno displayed an animation with a model created through reconstruction, presenting how the species would likely move.
Alongside dinosaurs, Sereno discussed his findings of other species’ fossils. In Sereno’s latest discovery in the Sahara desert, three human skeletons were excavated. Tilted “The Stone Age Embrace,” the fossils were positioned holding hands, with the explorer believing the discovery displays a mother and her children moments before their demise.
As an educator, Sereno expressed future plans to create a Makerspace for students interested in Paleontology.
This would provide learners with hands-on experiences with fossils and excavation tools. In 2009, Sereno received the Presidential Award for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring for his encouragement to spread knowledge to students.
Sereno has had an extensive set of accomplishments within his career. In 1993, The Chicago Tribune named Sereno “Teacher of the Year.” In 1999, Columbia University awarded Sereno the University Medal of Excellence.
Within mainstream media, Sereno has been featured in numerous scientific documentaries, along with producing paleontology content with National Geographic.