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Title: Fossils and amber, Dr. McKellar
When: Monday, November 20th, 2018
Where: Royal Saskatchewan Museum, corner Albert and College.
Free event, donations gratefully accepted.
Dr McKellar's university studies covered a range of topics at the University of Alberta, where he worked on theropod dinosaurs (B.Sc.), Moroccan trilobites (M.Sc.), and Canadian amber (Ph.D.), followed by postdoc studies on amber at the University of Kansas. He has been working at the RSM for three years now.
Ryan’s research focusses on insects and other fossils trapped in amber, as well as the chemistry of the amber itself. When you combine this information, you get remarkably complete pictures of ancient ecosystems, including which trees were living in the area, what conditions they were living under, and glimpses of the animals that lived in the forest.
Most recently, he has been working on Cretaceous and Paleocene ambers from Saskatchewan, trying to fill in a 20 million year gap in the fossil record of insects and examine their survival across the end-Cretaceous extinction event.
At the same time, he has been involved in projects examining amber from a wider range of sites for exceptional inclusions, and using the Canadian Light Source to test the limits of preservation in amber.
Over the last few years, Cretaceous amber has provided unprecedented glimpses of dinosaur and primitive bird material preserved in exquisite detail. Recent advances in technology have allowed us to make the most of these opportunities.
We can now peer beneath the skin and feathers preserved in amber, to see the skeletons and soft tissues that are preserved. We can even probe these materials to observe their chemistry, or create 3D models of the specimens.
The RSM has been actively involved in research that advances this technology, and we are now making use of it for scientific publications, exhibit manufacture, and in our work with other research institutions.
Join our Curator of Invertebrate Palaeontology, to see how X-rays and lasers are being applied to palaeontology, and some of the unique fossils that have been studied with these techniques.