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DinoFest 2022 Speaker: Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo

Dr. Zhe-Xi Luo

Title of Lecture: Furs, spines, and scales: fossil evidence for the earliest evolution of mammalian skin structure in the Mesozoic

Lecture Description: Modern mammals are unique and distinguished from other vertebrates in having hairs and their related structures such as spines and scales. The mammalian skin is important for body insulation and for development of sweat glands and mammary glands. Dr. Luo will discuss a series of recent discoveries of the impression and residues of furs, fossilized hair structures, and skin membranes in some exquisitely fossils of mammals from the Jurassic and Cretaceous.  These findings suggest that the mammal-like skin structures had already evolved in the precursors to common ancestors of living mammals, and give us a rare insight into the evolutionary origination of the important mammalian characters.

Bio: Luo is a paleontologist and Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago. He seeks to better understand the origins of mammals by studying mammal fossils of the Mesozoic – the Age of Dinosaurs. In his paleontological research of early fossil mammals, Luo has worked in many parts of the United States and China. He has studied the world’s earliest-known placentals and marsupials, and many other ancient mammals that shed light on mammalian evolutionary relationships, functional adaptations, ecological diversification, and developmental patterns.

Back to DinoFest 2022 overview.