Society for Vertebrate Paleontology to hold annual meeting in Montana in October

September 20, 2001

BOZEMAN, MONT--The world's largest group of scientists that studies dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures will meet in Bozeman, Mont., Oct. 3-6 to talk about the latest discoveries.

A record 1,200 members of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology are expected to attend the conference at Montana State University. This is the first time the society has met in Montana.

Shelley McKamey, a conference organizer and assistant director of the Museum of the Rockies, attributes the increase to an interest in Montana dinosaur sites and the popularity of Bozeman paleontologist Jack Horner.

"This is going to be a very busy meeting," said Pat Leiggi, administrative director of paleontology at the museum and chair of the host committee.

Presentations are scheduled every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. on Oct. 3 until 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 in three separate ballrooms of the Student Union Building on the Montana State University campus. Nearly 250 posters will be set up in the Shroyer Gymnasium on campus.

Some participants have called or e-mailed the museum, wondering if the conference was canceled following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.

Leiggi said some scientists taking international flights may not make it to the conference owing to a slow down in air traffic, but he doesn't expect many cancellations.

The society plans to collect donations from members and forward them to the victims and families of the recent tragedies.

"The feeling is, 'We know we're going to assemble so let's try to do something together [to help]'," Leiggi said.

When they get down to the business of science, participants will hear presentations on more than just dinosaurs. They'll hear about extinct sharks, sea turtles, rodents, sabertooth cats, bears, dolphins, woolly mammoths, horses, elephant birds, armadillos and lizards.

"It used to be you could stick all the dinosaur paleontologists and technicians in one room," Leiggi said. "Now I don't have a clue how many dinosaur paleontologists there are--probably hundreds--thanks to people like Jack Horner who have really popularized dinosaurs."

The scientists will report on dig sites sprinkled across the United States--from New Jersey to Texas and across the Great Plains to California. Dig sites dot the globe in countries such as Madagascar, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Morocco, Pakistan, Canada, Germany, Mexico, and several places in Africa, Argentina and China.

Jack Horner will speak about dinosaur growth strategies, dinosaur forebrains, using CT scans to study dinosaur skulls, and how the Triceratops got its horns.

Two buses of scientists will tour the Two Medicine and Judith River formations in northcentral Montana with Jack Horner before the conference begins.

Other field trips are scheduled for southwest Montana, the Bighorn Basin in Wyoming and the Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada.
Anyone interested in the conference or in reviewing the list of presentations can go the society's website: People can register online or at the meeting site once the conference begins. Fees range from $140 for students to $345 for non-society members.

The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology has about 2,000 members. This is its 61st annual meeting.

Montana State University

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