March 16, 2007

SMU to host annual meeting of paleobotanists

Leaf litter assemblage from Ethiopia.

Dallas (SMU) – Scientists whose life work is finding, studying and interpreting botanical fossils will gather at Southern Methodist University this weekend to present scientific papers and exchange ideas on the formation of the modern-day plant world.

The 24th annual Midcontinent Paleobotanical Colloquium – which includes some of the nation’s leading paleobotanists – will include findings from a recent SMU-lead expedition to Ethiopia and a keynote address by Amanda Neill, co-director of the Andes to Amazon Biodiversity Program and director of the herbarium of the Botanical Research Institute of Texas. The colloquium will be held March 16-19.

Among the authors of presentations are Bonnie Jacobs, Juan García Massini, Aaron D. Pan and Neil J. Tabor, all of the SMU Department of Geological Sciences. Other speakers come from a variety of institutions including the Smithsonian Institution, The Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Pennsylvania State University, Ohio University, and the Florida Museum of Natural History.

In December 2006, Jacobs lead a team of researchers studying ancient fossils in northwestern Ethiopia to better understand plant evolution and climate change. The project, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, also is training Ethiopian students in paleontology and archaeology.

The Midcontinent Paleobotanical Colloquium, held on a different university campus each year, provides an informal forum for paleobotany researchers, students and professors to meet with others interested in fossil plants to exchange information and ideas.

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