On December 30, paleontologist Jack Conrad will be taking part in a PLOS-sponsored redditscience AMA for his recent PLOS ONE paper on a “Jesus lizard” from ancient Wyoming. Dr. Conrad will be live and taking your questions from 1 to 2 pm EST on that date (and you can post your questions ahead of time, too!). In anticipation of the AMA, we’re republishing a post from The Integrative Paleontologists on the paper. Enjoy!
UPDATE: Use this link to post your questions for Dr. Conrad, as well follow along with the Reddit AMA as it happens live!
Wyoming is a beautiful place, but usually it is associated more with open range, cowboys, mountains, and skiing than it is with palm trees and alligators. What a difference 48 million years makes!
Fossils in the rocks of the Bridger Formation, spanning part of the Eocene epoch from around 49.5 to 46 million years ago, reveal a Wyoming covered by tropical forests and filled with alligators, early primates, and giant lumpy-headed herbivores. To top it off, average temperatures were probably around 9°C (16°F) warmer than today. These conditions present a tidy historical experiment to see how life responds to elevated temperatures, both in terms of evolutionary change as well as geographical distribution.
Conrad JL (2015) A new Eocene casquehead lizard (Reptilia, Corytophanidae) from North America. PLoS ONE 10(7): e0127900. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0127900