Our Research

 
We believe that science is exquisitely capable of asking and answering questions about the natural world, revealing the universe's fundamental truths.  As such, we believe that science and reason are the best tools for addressing and solving the world’s most pressing problems.  
We believe broad-based, multidisciplinary approaches that embrace both new and emerging technologies and tried-and-true strategies are the best ways to answer critical questions about the natural world.  We believe that collaboration and transparency are fundamental to the very nature of science itself.
 

3D Processing a 65-myo turtle hand.  Image Credit: Dr. J. Anné

Not Just Trophy Hunting!

Dinosaurs are great, but they're just a part of complex, dynamic, fascinating ecosystems. In general, our scientific mission is to study and understand the ancient ecosystems preserved within the rocks of the Bighorn Basin.  That includes dinosaurs, but also the other plants and animals that lived throughout the region, and the landscapes they inhabited.  

Below are just some of the large-scale research projects we're working on right now:


Research Projects

Latest Cretaceous Ecosystems

Triceratops Horn Core.  Photo Credit: R. Schmidt

To date, most of our work has focused on the Latest Cretaceous (~65-68 mya) ecosystems preserved within the Lance and Meeteetse formations. These rock units preserve many of the most famous dinosaurs - like T. rex, Triceratops, and Pachycephalosaurus - as well as fish, turtles, crocodiles, beautifully preserved plant leaves, and even amber.

  • We're interested in comparing aspects of this unit and its fossilized remains to better-known portions of the Lance Formation in eastern Wyoming and to the Hell Creek Formation
  • Why are some areas full of fossils, while other areas have almost none?

 

K/Pg Extinction

The Cretaceous/Paleogene (K/Pg) Extinction - which ended the Reign of Dinosaurs 65.5 million years ago - and life's rebound following that cataclysmic event, is one of the most fascinating periods in the history of life on Earth.

  • What organisms survived and why?
  • How long did it take for life and the landscape to return to "normal," and what was the new "normal," anyway?
  • What plants and animals evolved to fill the void left by the dinosaurs and other newly-extinct organisms?

 

Late Jurassic Morrison Formation

Illustration by Jason Poole

In 2015, our team began work in one of the northern-most exposures of the Late Jurassic (~145 myo) Morrison Formation.  The Morrison Formation is world-famous for dinosaurs, especially sauropods (long-necks) and Allosaurus - the king of the predators at the time.  But most of what we know about the Morrison comes from exposures farther south, in states like Utah and Colorado.  

  • How was the Morrison ecosystem here different from the better-studied areas to the south?
  • What kind of sauropod(s) are we finding?  Is it new?  Is it a juvenile?
  • Why are we finding SO MANY dinosaur remains here?  

publications

Image Credit: B. Malinowski

Image Credit: B. Malinowski

Paleontology is a slow process.  As a new organization, our publication list is predictably short.  But stay tuned!  With so many exciting projects in the works, and this list is already growing!


Collaborative Publications

Our researchers don't just work in and study the Bighorn Basin.  Their research efforts have international significance and contribute to the world's collective knowledge.  These publications are just a few highlights reflecting our paleontologists' extensive and wide-ranging fields of expertise.

Image Credit: N. Edwards

2017

  • Anné, J., Edwards, N.P., van Veelen, A.,  Egerton, V.M., Manning, P.L.,  Mosselmans, J.F.W., Parry, S., Sellers, W.I., Buckley, M. and Wogelius, R.A.  2017. Visualisation of developmental ossification using trace element mapping. Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry. 32: 967 – 974doi: 10.1039/C7JA00042A.
  • Buckley, M., Warwood, S., Dongen, B. van, Kitchener, A.C., and Manning, P.L. 2017b. A fossil protein chimera; difficulties in discriminating dinosaur peptide sequences from modern cross-contamination. Proc. R. Soc. B, 284 (1855): 20170544. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2017.0544.
  • Mustansar, Z., McDonald, S.A., Sellers, W.I., Manning, P.L., Lowe, T., Withers, P.J., and Margetts, L. 2017. A study of the progression of damage in an axially loaded Branta leucopsis femur using X-ray computed tomography and digital image correlation. PeerJ, 5: e3416. doi: 10.7717/peerj.3416.
  • Sellers, W.I., Pond, S.B., Brassey, C.A., Manning, P.L., and Bates, K.T., 2017, Investigating the running abilities of Tyrannosaurus rex using stress-constrained multibody dynamic analysis: PeerJ, v. 5, p. e3420, doi: 10.7717/peerj.3420.

 

2016

Image Credit: Dr. J. Anné

Manatee.jpg
Image Credit: Dr. J. Anné

Image Credit: Dr. J. Anné

2015

 

2014

Image Credit: Dr. J. Anné

  • Edwards, N.P., Manning, P.L., Bergmann, U., Larson, P.L., van Dongen, B.E., Sellers, W.I., Webb, S.M., Sokaras, D., Alonso-Mori, R., Ignatyev, K., Barden, H.E., van Veelen, A., Anné, J., Egerton, V.M., et al. 2014a. Leaf metallome preserved over 50 million years. Metallomics, 6 (4): 774–782. doi: 10.1039/C3MT00242J.
  • Edwards, N.P., Manning, P.L., and Wogelius, R.A. 2014b. Pigments through time. Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, 27 (5): 684–685. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12271
  • Edwards, N.P., Manning, P.L., and Wogelius, R.A. 2014b. Pigments through time. Pigment Cell & Melanoma Research, 27 (5): 684–685. doi: 10.1111/pcmr.12271

Illustration by J. Poole