Curators in the Field
Museum of Paleontology
Ph.D.: Geology, University of Chicago, 1990
Curator of Invertebrate Paleontology and Professor in Geological Sciences
Dr. Baumiller is a professor of geological sciences and a curator at the Museum of Paleontology. His field of study includes crinoid functional morphology, crinoid evolutionary history, biotic interactions, history of predatory and parasitic drilling, biomechanics of passive filter feeding, and taphonomy.
Associate Curator of Paleobotany, Associate Professor in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
I am interested in the origin, diversification, and maintenance of plant diversity in northern South America. I am concerned about conservation and wise management of ecosystems in tropical areas of the Western Hemisphere, and I approach those ecosystems with goals of identifying processes of diversification, specialization, migration, and distribution of plants. The organisms I study are climbing plants: vines and lianas. Rooted at the ground level, but traversing the canopy with the support of trees, climbers have a unique life style that appears to be sensitive to small and large perturbations. Recently I have extended my interests in climbers to North America under the CLIMBERS project.
My interests in modern forests have focused on a group of plants that are not phylogenetically allied: the woody climbers, or lianas. Lianas are found in about 140 families of plants and have probably existed on earth almost as long as there were trees up which to climb. Lianas are often excluded from large tree plot censuses (BCI, Yasuní, Pasoh, etc.) because of time and funding limitations involved in these studies. They are often included in smaller area plots but at the diameter limit of <10cm, a large stem for a liana. So we know relatively little about tropical liana communities, compared to tropical tree communities. Lianas contribute roughly 10-35% of the species diversity to tropical and temperate forests (if we count just the woody species), and usually less than 10% of the biomass, based on litter fall or stem diameter estimates.
I have worked primarily in two areas in the neotropics: Yasuní National Park in eastern Ecuador and Madre de Dios Department / Manu National Park in eastern Peru. Other fieldwork areas are Bolivia, Brazil, and Michigan.
PhD: Geology, Harvard University, 1975
Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, Professor of Geological Sciences
Daniel Fisher's research focuses on functional morphology and phylogenetic inference (incorporating stratigraphic data) to understand large-scale patterns of change in evolution. Much of Fisher's research focuses on Pleistocene mammoths and mastodons. His research integrates the study of fossils with experiment research and fieldwork. Recent projects include work in Siberia, where he was part of a team studying a well-preserved frozen baby mammoth (recently featured in National Geographic magazine) and on-going work on mastodon remains in Michigan. Fisher has developed techniques to document annual growth rings and chemical composition of tusks, to reconstruct detailed records of an animal's life history.
PhD, Yale University, 1974
Director and Curator, Professor of Geological Sciences; Director of the Museum of Paleontology; Ermine Cowles Case Collegiate Professor of Anthropology; Professor of Geological Sciences; Professor of Biology; Professor of Anthropology
Mammals have an unusually dense and continuous fossil record, and are thus ideal for evolutionary studies. I am interested in understanding how evolution as a process acting on generation-to-generation scales of time yields the microevolutionary and macroevolutionary patterns we observe on longer historical and geological scales of time. Study of the evolutionary process and comparison of resulting patterns requires quantification of evolutionary change and comparison in terms of rate.
Field work with students in Wyoming is focused on bed-by-bed collecting of Paleocene and early Eocene vertebrates to provide detailed species-level evolutionary time series for quantification of evolutionary rates, and, simultaneously, a high-resolution stratigraphic record of the appearance of modern orders of mammals at the Paleocene-Eocene boundary (Perissodactyla, Primates, etc.). Our work has shown the appearance of several important modern orders to be synchronous and to coincide with an abrupt dwarfing event in mammals. In recent years we have been able to link the first appearances and dwarfing to a brief but important worldwide shift of carbon and oxygen isotopes and a rapid but short-lived event of global climate warming- the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum or PETM. In this instance, profound long-term higher-taxonomic faunal change resulted from a transient environmental perturbation affecting species over a broad geographic area.
Search for the origin of modern orders of mammals led to field work in the Paleocene and Eocene of South Asia, starting in the 1970s, which has yielded important new land-mammal faunas in Pakistan. Early whales (e.g., Pakicetus) were discovered there unexpectedly, which has diverted attention to middle and upper Eocene marine strata in Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, and Tunisia. Field work in these Tethyan sediments has yielded important intermediate forms documenting the origin and early evolution of whales.
I remain interested in the origin of primates, the Eocene evolution of primates, and the origin of higher primates or Anthropoidea.
PhD: Organismal Biology and Anatomy, University of Chicago, 1999
Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, Assistant Professor of Geological Sciences
Dr. Wilson's fields of study include Sauropod phylogeny, Titansauria, Paleoichnology, Vertebrate Paleontology of Gondwanan landmasses, and systematics. Dr. Wilson has conducted fieldwork in Jordan, India, and Morocco. In Jordan, Wilson and colleagues explored Late Cretaceous horizons in central and southern Jordan to learn about paleobiogeographic history of the Arabian peninsula and Africa during the end of the dinosaur era. In India, he and his collaborators focused on identifying Late Mesozoic fossil remains, and a preliminary field trip to Morocco in 2005 visited Early Jurassic horizons which preserve remains of some of the earliest sauropods, which are smaller and less advanced than later-appearing sauropods and can yield important insights on sauropod feeding and locomotory anatomy.