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DinoFest 2022 Speaker: Dr. Jakob Vinther


Title of Lecture: How to recontruct the colors of dinosaurs

Lecture Description: Imagine once we thought that color was something we never could gleam from a fossil dinosaur. Today we know that melanin pigments preserve in fossils allowing us to reconstruct original color patterns and even iridescence. Porphyrin pigments in egg shells allow us to reconstruct their original blue, green and brown hues. In this Dr. Vinther will discuss how much we can infer from fossils by studying melanins and melanosomes, and how these color patterns reveal insights to the environment dinosaurs inhabited, predator-prey dynamics, and how they interacted.

Bio: Jakob is an associate professor in Macroevolution at the University of Bristol and holds a dual position between the School of Earth Sciences and School of Biological Sciences. While studying at Yale as a graduate student, he stumbled upon fossil melanin as he was working on a project on octopus fossils and their ink sacs and started thinking about whether melanin is more widespread, such as in dinosaur skin and feathers. He also studies Cambrian exceptional soft bodied faunas from Sirius Passet in Greenland and the Chengjiang biota from China.