Webb Students Present Alf Museum Research at 4th Palaeontological Virtual Congress

Webb students presented their studies of fossils from Wyoming’s Mesaverde and Lance Formations at the 4th Palaeontological Virtual Congress, an online gathering of international paleontologists.

The 13 students conducted hands-on research of the paleoenvironment of Late Cretaceous Wyoming in Dr. Andrew Farke’s Advanced Studies in Paleontology class at the Alf Museum, the only accredited museum of paleontology on a high school campus in the world.

The studies involved years of work cleaning fossils and conducting research. The students created slideshows to present their findings at the online conference. Their studies included: new data on the faunal assemblage of the Mesaverde Formation, a report on new microvertebrate localities in the marine portion of the Mesaverde Formation, and a study of the limb anatomy of an articulated baenid turtle from the Lance Formation. Please see the abstracts for their studies below this article.

The fossils at the center of these presentations were collected during summer Peccary Trips in Wyoming in 2019, 2021, and 2022. Peccary Trips, a Webb tradition going back to 1936, take Webb students, faculty, and staff into the field to search for fossils. The collected fossils are then brought to the Alf Museum to be cleaned and studied by students.

“If you helped heft the giant turtle block, or found shark and dinosaur teeth (while fighting off the bitey flies), or collected turtle bits, your scientific contributions are also on the international stage,” said Dr. Farke regarding the importance of Peccary Trips to the studies presented at the 4th PVC.

This summer’s Peccary Trip recently returned from Wyoming. One student made the important discovery in the Teapot Sandstone of a champsosaur bone. These crocodile-like animals have not previously been reported in that area of Wyoming. Our crew also uncovered very rare reptile vertebrae, dinosaur bones and teeth, turtles, fish, shark teeth, and microfossils. This latest collection will contribute to the continued research of Late Cretaceous paleoenvironment at the Alf Museum.

From Peccary Trips to the prep lab to writing studies, Webb students engage in every stage of research essential to deciphering our planet’s past.

All fossils were collected under permit from the US Bureau of Land Management.

New Data on the Faunal Assemblage of the Mesaverde Formation (Late Cretaceous, Campanian) of the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, U.S.A.
Elizabeth Chai ‘23
Clarence Deng ‘23
Andy Fu ‘23
Valeria Gonzalez ‘23
Daniel Hu ‘23
Theresa Hu ‘24
Ochuru Ochuru ‘23
Mirabel Raphael ‘24
Pierre Sun ‘23
Samuel Zeiden ‘23
Jamie Zeng ‘23

An Articulated Baenid Turtle from the Lance Formation (Late Maastrichtian, Late Cretaceous) of the Rock Springs Uplift, Sweetwater County, Wyoming, U.S.A.
Aidan Helgeson ‘23

New Microvertebrate Localities in the Marine Portion of the Mesaverde Formation (Late Cretaceous, Campanian) of the Bighorn Basin, Wyoming, U.S.A.
Ken Sirimontaporn ‘23

June 30, 2023

8:05 AM PDT