Harvard Ph.D. candidate to give lecture on exceptionally well-preserved early Paleozoic arthropods

Roger Coda
Sarah Losso

Sarah Losso

Sarah Losso, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University, will present a lecture, "Morphology, Function and Taphonomy of Lower Paleozoic Trilobites and their Close Relatives: Insights from North American Lagerstätten," on Friday, Sept. 16, at 3 p.m. in McEwen Hall Room G24.

The lecture, jointly hosted by the departments of Geology and Environmental Sciences, and Biology, will detail Ms. Losso’s work on fossil arthropods from unique deposits where the preservation is of an exceptionally high quality – showing details that are not normally preserved.

Her work on trilobite reproduction was recently detailed in a New York Times article, “Before There Were Birds or Bees, This is How Trilobites Made Babies.” According to the article, the discovery of clasper limbs in a fossil trilobite suggests that they reproduced much like modern horseshoe crabs. Department of Geology and Environmental Sciences Assistant Professor Thomas Hegna was also quoted in the article, commenting on the probable existence of genuine variation in how trilobites mated.

Losso and Dr. Hegna had the same faculty advisor while they pursued master’s degrees at the University of Iowa.

In addition to the lecture presentation, Losso, her advisor, Dr. Javier Ortega-Herández, and several undergraduate students from Harvard will participate in a field trip with SUNY Fredonia paleontology students to two sites near Utica that represent fossil sites with exceptional preservation that contain rare examples of unmineralized soft tissue that has been preserved along with fossil shells and carapaces.

“Normally, you find fossilized shells, bones, things that are mineralized. These sites contain preserved tissues that were unmineralized in life,” Hegna explained.

The lecture by Losso, a graduate student in the Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard, is free and open to the public.


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