Please note, this month’s meeting begins approximately 1.5 hours earlier than our normal start time of 6:30pm. Our virtual happy half-hour will begin at 5pm, with our speaker presenting at approximately 5:30pm.
GENERAL INFORMATION: All participants will sign up via Eventbrite (using the button to the right). A link to the meeting will be emailed to all participants approximately 30 minutes prior to the meeting start time. Registration for this meeting will close at 5:30pm on July 5th. This month’s meeting is free; however, donations are appreciated and can be given via Eventbrite during sign-up or via PayPal to email@example.com. For those who have not used Zoom, it is free to sign up and you do not need a paid account to attend the meeting. We suggest logging in at least 10-15 minutes early if this is your first time using Zoom or you have not recently updated your Zoom account. SCGS officers will be standing by to assist as best we can. If you have any issues, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note, the meeting may be recorded for future use.
Speaker: Dr. Jingmai O’Connor
Topic: The Multiple Evolutions of Dinosaurian Flight!
When: Monday, July 5th (5:00PM – 7:30PM)
Most of us are only just wrapping our minds around the fact that birds are living dinosaurs. But are birds the only flying dinosaurs? New specimens from China reveal a startling diversity of dinosaurs that flew in a diversity of ways.
The idea birds descended from dinosaurs dates back to the 19th century but only became widely accepted following the discovery of feathered dinosaurs in Cretaceous aged deposits in northeastern China in the late 1990’s, more than a century later. Discoveries from the Early Cretaceous Jehol Biota, and later from the Upper Jurassic Yanliao Biota, have continued unabated for the late 20 years, revealing not only a huge diversity of birds only younger than Archaeopteryx but also four winged dromaeosaurids and even more unexpected – an enigmatic group of theropods with membranous wings. These discoveries strongly suggest that birds are not the only flying dinosaurs – that flight evolved multiple times in Maniraptora, together revealing a startling degree of experimentation with volant behavior that we are only just beginning to understand.
Dr. Jingmai O’Connor is currently the Associate Curator of Fossil Reptiles at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. Previously, she was a professor at the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing where she worked for over ten years. O’Connor was introduced to paleontology by Dr. Donald Prothero while at Occidental College (Class of ’04). O’Connor did her PhD studying Mesozoic birds at the University of Southern California (2009) with Drs. David Bottjer and Luis Chiappe (Los Angeles Natural History Museum). Her research explores the evolution of flight in the Dinosauria, the dinosaur-bird transition, and the biology of stem-avians, not through any one aspect but exploring Paraves through feather origin and function, aerodynamics, reproduction, respiration, trophics, anatomy, systematics, ontogeny, taxonomy, histology, and other topics as exceptional specimens arise. She has published over 120 papers some of which have appeared in top journals including Nature, Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), and Current Biology. In 2019 O’Connor was awarded the Schuchert Award by the Paleontogical Society which honors a paleontologist under the age of 40 who demonstrates excellence and promise. O’Connor has conducted field work in the US, China, Mongolia, Romania, Canada, and South Africa. She serves as an editorial board member for Scientific Reports and is a Research Associate of both the American Museum of Natural History and the Los Angeles Natural History Museum. O’Connor has been invited to give several keynote lectures, helped to organize several symposia, has trained numerous Master’s and PhD students, and lectured at the University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.