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DinoFest 2017 Speaker: Dr. James Kirkland

James Kirkland, State Paleontologist with the Utah Geological Survey.

DinoBite — 3:30 p.m.

"The Cedar Mountain Formation and its Dinosaurs: the Early Cretaceous Dinosaur Record in Central Utah"

Join Dr. James Kirkland and hear how the Cedar Mountain Formation in eastern Utah contains keys to understanding the Cretaceous paleogeography of the entire northern hemisphere.


Dr. James Kirkland is the Utah State Paleontologist, Utah Geological Survey.

After receiving his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado, Kirkland spent two years teaching at the University of Nebraska and nine years working as paleontologist with the Dinamation International Society.

He has spent the last 17 years as the Utah State Paleontologist. He issues permits for paleontological research on Utah state lands, keeps tabs on paleontological research and issues across the state, and promotes Utah’s paleontological resources for the public good. 

An expert on the Mesozoic, he has spent 40 years excavating fossils across the Southwestern U.S. and Mexico and authoring and coauthoring more than 80 professional papers. The reconstruction of ancient marine and terrestrial environments, biostratigraphy, paleobiogeography, paleoecology, and mass extinctions are some of his interests.

Kirkland has discovered and described numerous new dinosaurs, including several new armored dinosaurs, bipedal plant-eaters, the oldest truly horned-dinosaur, North America’s first sickle-clawed therizinosaurid, and the giant dromaeosaur, Utahraptor.

His research in the middle Cretaceous of Utah has indicated separation from Europe about 115 million years ago, a period of isolation, and the origins of Alaska with the first great Asian-North American faunal interchange, which occurred about 100 million years ago. Kirkland's numerous expeditions to Europe, China, and Mongolia have substantiated his research.

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