Learning From The Dead

Wednesday July 31, 7 pm

Dr. Melanie Hopkins — Associate Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology at the American Museum of Natural History and noted trilobite expert — joins us for a special science talk this summer!

Dr. Hopkins’ talk will be held in the Gateway Building Auditorium, 3556 Lakeshore Road in Blasdell, NY. Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation, this talk is FREE to the public and our members. No reservations needed.

Outline: Although the number of animal species on Earth is in the millions, today’s diversity represents a very small fraction of the number of species that have ever existed. In other words, most of the Earth’s animal diversity is now extinct. In order to learn about extinct animals, paleontologists search the rock record for fossil remains and then use a variety of techniques to make inferences about the biology and ecology of those species when they were alive.

Depending on the nature of preservation, it is possible to discover how extinct animals grew and behaved, what environments they lived in, how they interacted with other animals, and how they evolved over time. In this talk, Dr. Hopkins will describe how paleontologists study growth and development in extinct animals, focusing particularly on an extinct group of ocean-dwelling arthropods, the trilobites.

Bio: Dr. Melanie Hopkins is an invertebrate paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History.  Her research focuses on patterns and processes of morphological evolution, including the roles of both development and ecology in directing evolution over long time scales. She works primarily on trilobites but has also worked on other marine invertebrate groups, including sea urchins and fiddler crabs. She did her undergraduate training at Stanford University and her PhD at the University of Chicago.