Sternberg Museum staff members publish papers in scientific journals

Greg Liggett, assistant director of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History at Fort Hays State University, and Mike Everhart, an adjunct curator, have recently published papers in scientific journals.

Liggett published "Discovery of a Junior Synonym for the Late Cretaceous Genus Coniasaurus (Reptilia, Squamata)" in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology.

Liggett's paper details his discovery that, in the 1850s, a famous scientist inadvertently gave a second name (the "junior synonym") to the fossil of a small lizard that he found in the English chalk formations. Liggett speculates that the second name was an attempt to correct the spelling of the first name, Coniasaurus (pronounced CONE-e-a-saurus).

Liggett discovered the junior synonym while studying the animal in question, Coniasaurus cressidens (CRES-si-dens), after a similar fossil was discovered in Kansas. A paper on that animal, he said, is still in the works.

Everhart has recently published two papers. "New Data Regarding the Skull of Dolichorhynchops osborni (Plesiosauroidea: Polycotylidae) from the Rediscovered Photos of the Harvard Museum of Comparative Zoology Specimen" was published in Paludicola, a journal published under the auspices of the Rochester Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology.

"Late Cretaceous Interaction Between Predators and Prey: Evidence of Feeding by Two Species of Shark on a Mosasaur" was published in PalArch, a scientific journal in the Netherlands.

Dolichorhynchops osborni (pronounced Dol-i-cho-rhin-kips osborn-i) is a short-necked plesiosaur about 10 feet long. The best-preserved specimen is housed in the Sternberg Museum, a fully-mounted skeleton in its own case. Only a few fossils of this animal have been found, Liggett said.

Everhart's first paper is on his discovery of photographs taken of one of the few known specimens before the specimen was embedded in plaster for display at Harvard. These photographs display a side of the specimen that has not been seen for 50 years.

Everhart's second paper is about mosasaur bones that show evidence of being bitten by two species of shark. The bones are on display at the Sternberg Museum in the marine reptile case.

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