Lunchtime Lecture: "Ancient South American Mammals
Paleontologist Dr. Leopoldo Soibelzon will present a “brown bag lunch” talk on ancient mammals of South America titled “The Integration and Evolution of Land Mammal Communities in South America from K-T Boundary to the Present” on Tuesday, September 11th at noon in the Eastman Credit Union Classroom at the East Tennessee State University & General Shale Brick, Natural History Museum and Visitor Center at Gray Fossil Site. The public is invited to bring their lunches to the free presentation.
Dr. Soibelzon is an Adjunct Researcher and Professor at the Universidad Nacional de La Plata, CONICET and the La Plata Museum of Natural History, Argentina. Much of his research centers around ancient South American carnivores, especially fossil bears. Soibelzon has worked closely with ETSU Natural History Museum and Center of Excellence in Paleontology director, Dr. Blaine Schubert, on the fossil record and evolution of short-faced bears. Recently the two published a paper on the largest known bear ever recorded, a giant short-faced bear from the Ice Age of South America. During Soibelzon’s visit they will be continuing their work on short-faced bears, finalizing a manuscript on the bear from the Gray Fossil Site with one of the museum curators, Dr. Steven Wallace.
The lecture will discuss ideas that shed light on what has been described as “an interesting mixture of creatures... fascinating to almost everyone”. The “strange mammals” that George Gaylord Simpson referred to in his 1980 work “Splendid Isolation” have proven a source of intrigue to scientists, and especially to Dr. Soibelzon. His “broken zig-zag” hypothesis (in which humans broke the zig-zag) attributes the major mega-mammal extinction of the last Ice Age to moderate hunting pressure by humans in a specific time of rapidly warming climate.
The “South American Mammals” talk is part of a Lunchtime Lecture Series held at the Natural History Museum and sponsored by the Don Sundquist Center of Excellence in Paleontology. Interested persons should visit the museum web site (www.etsu.edu/naturalhistorymuseum) for dates and times of scheduled lectures.
The museum switches to a winter schedule after Labor Day and will be open 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday. For more information, call (866) 202-6223.