Fossils help paleontologists understand much more than what dinosaurs looked like. They provide clues to dinosaur behavior and the environment in which they lived. What follows are just some of the things Mission Jurassic scientists are studying about these fossils to unlock secrets of the prehistoric past.
Professor Phil Manning is an expert on trackways, which include things like footprints but also marks made by tails, bellies, snouts, and more. Professor Manning is trying to determine what the Jurassic Mile footprints can tell us about the animals that lived there.
By Dr. Victoria Egerton, Elli Lilly and Company Extraordinary Scientist-in-Residence, is a paleobotonist; she is studying the fossil plant evidence at The Jurassic Mile to help paint a picture of what the site looked like 150 million years ago.
Pathologies are injuries, infections, and diseases. Museum paleontologist Dr. Jennifer Anné is an expert on paleopathologies and is looking at various ailments that affected the specimens.
Paleo Prep Lab staff member William Ripley is studying tooth marks, which give indications of predation and scavenging. This information can help reveal the animals that were feeding on our specimens and how quickly the specimens were buried.
The way that bones fossilize is variable and complex. Drs. Manning, Egerton, and Anné are using chemical analyses conducted at synchrotrons—large particle accelerators—to determine how the fossils became preserved.
The microstructure of bone tells a great deal about an animal’s physiology, including how quickly it grew, how old it was when it died, and more. Dr. Anné is looking at the microstructures of The Jurassic Mile sauropods to discover how these animals lived.
Mission Jurassic is a $27.5-million project that will be brought to life through the generosity of donors. Donate now on our website, or for extraordinary naming opportunities check out our Mission Jurassic Field Guide or contact Amy Kwas at 317-334-4608 or AKwas@childrensmuseum.org.