Christian Sidor, UW Biology Professor, and Bryan Gee, UW Biology postdoctoral researcher, were featured in UW News on their new research findings and adjusting their research during the COVID-19 pandemic. Led by Gee, the team recently published a paper about an ancient group of amphibians that lived in Antarctica – all based on work done from his living room.
Paleontologists had to adjust to stay safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many had to postpone fossil excavations, temporarily close museums and teach the next generation of fossil hunters virtually instead of in person.
But at least parts of the show could go on during the pandemic — with some significant changes.
“For paleontologists, going into the field to look for fossils is where data collection begins, but it does not end there,” said Christian Sidor, a University of Washington professor of biology and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the UW’s Burke Museum of Natural History & Culture. “After you collect fossils, you have to bring them to the laboratory, clean them off and see what you’ve found.”
Among other adaptations during the pandemic, Sidor and his UW colleagues have spent more time cleaning, preparing and analyzing fossils excavated before the pandemic, as well as managing new pandemic-related struggles — such as a misplaced shipment of irreplaceable specimens.
For Sidor’s team, a recent triumph came from an analysis — led by UW postdoctoral researcher Bryan Gee — of fossils of Micropholis stowi, a salamander-sized amphibian that lived in the Early Triassic, shortly after Earth’s largest mass extinction approximately 252 million years ago, at the end of the Permian Period. Micropholis is a temnospondyl, a group of extinct amphibians known from fossil deposits around the globe. In a paper published May 21 in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology, Gee and Sidor report on the first occurrence of Micropholis in ancient Antarctica.
Read the full article in UW News.