Archive for November 1st, 2010

Wooster Geology Alumni Gather at the 2010 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting

November 1st, 2010

DENVER, COLORADO — It has been a tradition for decades that Wooster Geology alumni, faculty and students meet one evening during the annual GSA conference. This year we had forty people come by; a good number of them are pictured above. There were many other Wooster alumni who were running their own events at the same time and could not attend. What a joyous gathering it was … and an excellent opportunity for our current students to meet a diverse group of successful geologists who shares their academic heritage.

Anomalocaris now not so scary

November 1st, 2010

Whitey Hagadorn beginning his GSA talk on the feeding abilities of Anomalocaris. The large room was packed.

DENVER, COLORADO — I very much enjoyed a talk this afternoon by Whitey Hagadorn (a Wooster favorite since his Osgood lecture last year) entitled: “Putting Anomalocaris on a soft-food diet?” Even though Whitey says Anomalocaris “may still have been a fearsome predator”, slurping up worms from the mud is not the same as crunching trilobites. Spaghetti vs. steak.

Whitey’s presentation was an excellent example of testing a hypothesis with fossil evidence. If Anomalocaris really did bite through trilobite cuticle, surely it should have been able to at least close its mouth more than halfway and be able to apply the necessary forces? Whitey and his colleagues modeled the mouthparts of Anomalocaris and the exoskeletons of trilobites and subjected them to various engineering analyses. Turns out that the story of these nektic predators grabbing and killing trilobites just can’t be true. Their mouths could exert significant sucking forces, though, so maybe they were predators on soft-bodied worms they pulled from the sediment. Their “teeth” then may have served mainly to keep the worms from sliding out once in the mouth. Not nearly so dramatic, but a much more sensible take on the fossil evidence.

Stromatolites, Basalt and Sharks: Wooster Geology Student Posters at GSA (Part 1)

November 1st, 2010

DENVER, COLORADO — The first set of Wooster geology student posters have been successfully delivered at the Geological Society of America annual meeting. Three of our students did very well with their clear graphics, intelligent explanations, and winning smiles.  Elizabeth Deering (’11) presented her I.S. work on Eocene stromatolites in Utah, Becky Alcorn (’11) described her work with Icelandic sub-glacial basalts, and Andrew Retzler (’11) discussed his Cretaceous shark and other fish teeth from Israel.

Elizabeth Deering ('11) and her GSA poster.

Becky Alcorn ('11) and her GSA poster.

Andrew Retzler ('11) and his poster.