Sunday, October 10, 1999

Museum Center researchers collecting in the field

        Cincinnati Museum Center hasn't stopped collecting treasures.

        “We've just added a slab of rock 20 feet long and several feet wide,” says Colin Sumrall, curator of invertebrate paleontology. “It's a very special section of the Ordovician sea floor.”

        Found near Maysville, Ky., the rock “is from a distant time when the Midwest was at the bottom of a vast inland sea.”

        The slab is covered with hundreds of fossils of ancient sea life caught “when mud came in and killed everything. It documents interrelationships between a whole community of organisms that were alive and thriving on one particular day 450 million years ago,” he says.

        Scientific research is ongoing, too, with teams in the field actively seeking and collecting.

        “This year, Museum Center anthropologist Dr. Frank Cowan, working at Stubbs Earthworks in Warren County, discovered four times as many Hopewell (Indian) houses than were previously known,” Mr. Sumrall says.

        The site included a 240-foot-diameter structure that is “a type of architecture that predates previously known versions by many centuries.

        “It was on a construction site for a school, so it won't be preserved,” Mr. Sumrall says. “But the information will be preserved, and that's important.”

        Also this summer, Dr. Glenn Storrs, curator of vertebrate paleontology, who is recognized as the world's foremost expert on plesiosaurs, found in Kansas one of best known specimens of an Elasmosaurus.

        “It is the Loch Ness monster type of dinosaur,” Mr. Sumrall says. “The body was virtually unknown before this and and he's got the whole body. To find one this intact is a big discovery.”


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