Delicate fossil remains of tomatillos found in Patagonia, Argentina, show that this branch of the economically important family that also includes potatoes, peppers, tobacco, petunias and tomatoes existed 52 million years ago, long before the dates previously ascribed to these species, according to an international team of scientists.
Scientists use Penn State’s ‘Big Data’ Research Network and the Center for Quantitative X-ray Imaging facility to help make new discoveries.
When trying to interpret the fossil record, we must first understand how they ended up where they are -- and that means taking a close look at the sediments that surround them, says Penn State scientist Mark Patzkowsky.
Potential climate change caused by rising levels of carbon dioxide might be better understood by examining fossil plant remains from millions of years ago, according to biogeochemists. The types of carbon within the leaves can serve as a window into past temperatures and environmental conditions.
How did you first become interested in geosciences?
Though always interested in the natural world, I discovered geology as my discipline rather late, at almost 30 years old. Deciding to go back to school as a graduate student, I wanted to study the evolution of life through time. It quickly became apparent that I really wanted to study fossils, and fossils are in rocks. I jumped in all the way and have never looked back.
What is the most exciting or fascinating aspect of your research?
"Although they are vastly different today, millions of years ago, Antarctica and Australia had very similar ecosystems because they used to be connected."
--Peter Wilf, associate professor of geosciences, at the Research Unplugged discussion on Wednesday, April 7. Research Unplugged is an informal lecture series hosted by Penn State's Office of Research Publications and held at noon Wednesdays in Penn State's Downtown Theatre Center. The afternoon begins with a brief introduction of the topic, followed by an open floor for questions, comments and discussion. The event is free to the public. Complimentary coffee and light refreshments are served. For information, visit http://www.rps.psu.edu/unplugged/.
The Earth and Mineral Sciences Library will kick off its fall film series in September with a lineup of titles on a wide range of environmental issues and related topics. All videos will be shown 12:15 p.m. Wednesdays in the Earth and Mineral Sciences Library, 105 Deike Building, University Park.
When the sun was out and low in the sky, Todd Sowers remembers, standing on the summit was an amazing experience. His goose-down swaddled form, and the similarly bulky shapes of his colleagues, would cast their shadows hundreds of meters down, to the stark landscape of the Bolivian altiplano below. Not that he had much time to contemplate such magnificent vistas. Sunny days were particularly precious on Nevado Sajama, not least because in order to penetrate the mountain's icy cap Sowers and the others were using a solar-powered drill.