Welcome to the Oklahoma Paleontological Society web page. The Oklahoma Paleontological Society (OPS) was founded to create interest in the study of paleontology and in the new home of the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, the Sam Noble Museum. (Is the previous sentence accurate?) Recent meetings have enjoyed talks by such paleontology notables as James Kirkland, Alan Witten, Dan Brinkman, and Desmond Maxwell. The Oklahoma Paleontology Society meets at the Oklahoma Museum of Natural History Vertebrate Paleontology Lab (street name, number, and location) on the second Thursday of the month.
In February, Alan Witton talked about new techniques and equipment that are being used to locate dinosaur bones. Alan Witton developed the equipment while he was working at Los Alamos. During the excavation of a Seismosaurus in New Mexico, Alan Witton was called in to test his equipment and several devices were used with some success. However, these techniques are relatively new, and have not been refined to the point where all the bones in an excavation can be pinpointed. Regardless, his techniques have shown promise and are being refined and tested. One place they are being tested is at an early Cretaceous excavation in southeastern Oklahoma.
In March, OPS featured Dr. W. Desmond Maxwell. Dr. Maxwell received his Ph.D. on Permian reptiles in the United Kingdom, but is now Professor of Anatomy at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine. Maxwell, an authority on Early Cretaceous dinosaurs, has collected materials of the raptor Deinonychus, and recently published an article describing the association of the agile predator with its presumed prey, Tenontosaurus. Maxwell's seminar described the results of his expeditions to the dinosaur beds of the Cloverly Formation, Wyoming and Montana, where he has worked for the last six field seasons. His talk was very good considering he left most of his slides in NY!
During his visit, Dr. Maxwell visited our site in southeastern Oklahoma and was excited to know what would be found in the large jacket we took out. He was especially interested in the site because the Antlers formation is analogous to the Cloverly formation he worked in while in Wyoming and Montana. Furthermore the Antlers formation presents the same Tenontosaur-Deinonychus association that occurs in the Cloverly formation. Overall he was enthusiastic about the fossils of Oklahoma and about the new museum being built.
Recently, one of our resident paleontologists, Dr. Richard Cifelli, discovered two mammal teeth in matrix collected from the Antlers formation of southeastern Oklahoma. These teeth are the earliest remains of mammals in Oklahoma. For the full story, visit the article at the Oklahoma Geological Survey.
Recently while bulldozing, "residents" at the McLeod Honor Farm uncovered more remains of Tenontosaurus and possibly other species. This occurred about a week after the trip to the site with Desmond Maxwell Ph.D. Several preparators and paleontologists were immediately dispatched to extract the bones as soon as possible to prevent damage due to weathering. These bones were jacketed and brought back for preparation.
Richard Cifelli will not be in Oklahoma for some time. He recently left for Austin with several mammal teeth and jaws. Of particular notice was a marsupial jaw showing the eruption of the M4 molar, something of great importance to the understanding of the evolution of mammals. He will be meeting a paleontologist flying in from France. While in Austin they will be using for the first time an advanced X-ray machine able to take images of slices approximately 4 microns in thickness. He will use this machine to take very high detailed images of the formation and eruption of the teeth while still inside the jaw. After working in Austin he will fly to France to study with the French paleontologist who also studies ancient mammals.
With the opening of the new museum racing forward, the OMNH Preparator Training Program is moving into high gear to get the exhibits ready for display. Heading up this program is volunteer coordinator Bill May. Bill May worked at the Denver Museum of Natural History, but is now volunteering his time at OMNH to train other volunteers the art of preparation. At the moment we do not have any classes running but we will be starting a new class this fall. For more information call Beth Larson at (405) 325-5327.
Once you have finished the Preparator Training Program, you can start volunteering. Exhibit Coordinator, Beth Larson, directs our volunteer program. After becoming a volunteer, you will be allowed to work on:
The Oklahoma Museum of Natural History is...well, Oklahoma's museum of natural history
The Oklahoma Geological Survey provides publications, information, maps, etc. about the Geology and Paleontology of Oklahoma
The American Museum of Natural History is our nation's museum of natural history.
PaleOk is a paleontology club that meets the last Monday of every month in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Each month PaleOk has a speaker or activity at the meeting. PaleOk also has field trips to fossil sites in Oklahoma.
Copyright 1997, Patrick Griffin