For 100 days, Drury alumnus Jack Conrad was part of a team exploring the Sahara Desert searching for new species of dinosaurs.
The team found fossils of the 600-toothed Nigersaurus, and also discovered several new species of dinosaur and a site full of human fossils. And they brought the world along for the ride, through almost-daily updates to the Dinosaur Expedition 2000 Web site, run from a tent in the middle of a desert town.
Jack Conrad is a PhD candidate studying paleontology at the University of Chicago. His current research includes describing the endangered Chinese crocodile lizard (Shinisaurus crocodilurus), the evolution of the Anguimorpha (Gila monsters, monitor, limbless, and crocodile lizards), and the origins of snakes. He is also interested in the relationship between size and the appearance of new body plans and is working on the early evolution of Synapsida (the stem from which mammals arise).
The Drury alumnus says that the Biology Department at Drury was instrumental in helping him prepare for graduate work. The discipline he learned at Drury helped Jack to survive and appreciate the arduous 101-day trip to Africa last year.
While on the expedition Jack and his teammates discovered over 20 tons of fossils, including at least 5 new predatory dinosaurs; 5 new herbivorous dinosaurs, as many as 6 new crocodiles - from the largest in the world to one less than three feet long; 3 new turtles; new fish, arthropods, and seeds; and, doubtless, mammal teeth and the bones of other small animals lurking in the sediment. Expedition leader Paul Sereno has called this the most productive paleontological expedition ever.
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