Lecture to focus on Nebraska’s history of paleontology

Nebraska Lectures


Posted January 22, 2020 by Tiffany Lee

University of Nebraska–Lincoln paleontologist Ross Secord will unearth the rich history of vertebrate paleontology at the University of Nebraska State Museum in a Jan. 28 talk, part of the university’s Nebraska Lectures: Chancellor’s Distinguished Speaker Series.

“Looking Back and Looking Forward: The History of Vertebrate Paleontology at the University of Nebraska State Museum” is 4:30 p.m. at Morrill Hall, 645 N. 14th St. The event is free and open to the public, with a reception following.

Secord will discuss the building of the museum’s fossil collections, starting with museum director Erwin Barbour in the late 19th century and continuing to the present. He will discuss the continuing impact the collections have had on science and the public. Secord will also contrast how paleontology research has changed since the late 19th century with the advent of new technologies and methods.

“The importance of the collections to our understanding of vertebrate evolution in North America over the last 35 million years cannot be overstated,” said Secord, associate professor of Earth and atmospheric sciences. “The museum’s prized Elephant Hall contains the largest exhibit of fossil elephant skeletons in the United States.”

Secord’s research centers on Paleogene mammals and problems in paleoclimatology and paleoecology. His focus is on faunal change and paleoecological change through time, and how those changes may have been influenced by climate.

The Nebraska Lectures are a longstanding campus tradition of featuring notable Nebraska researchers in a public forum. In celebration of the university’s 150th anniversary, the series was extended to feature 12 lectures focused on university and state history, with Secord’s as the final lecture of the N150 year. The expanded series was supported by a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities through Humanities Nebraska.

All talks are free and open to the public and are streamed online and made available via podcast. Past lectures examined topics such as Nebraska’s Unicameral and the history of school spirit and Louise Pound. Podcasts and videos of the lectures are available here.

The Nebraska Lecture series is sponsored by the Research Council, Office of the Chancellor, Office of Research and Economic Development, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and Humanities Nebraska.