Paleontology is the study of fossils. A fossil is defined as any evidence or remains of a past life form. Thus, although wood, bones, and shells are the most common fossils, under certain conditions soft tissue, tracks and trails, and even eggs may be preserved as fossils.
Paleontologists study fossils and attempt to use them to reconstruct the history of the Earth and the life on it. Some paleontologists study the ecology of ancient communities; others work on the development of fossil forms through time. Paleontologists are employed in the petroleum industry interpreting ancient environments and stratigraphic sequences. They work in the environmental industry as well as in academic and museum settings. Paleontologists who work on relatively recent fossils have developed approaches to reconstructing past climates and environments. Today, environmental change, global warming, and so on are household words. Paleontologists can provide historical data on past climates and apply it towards understanding future trends and their likely effects. If we understand the effects of climate change, for instance, on our world in the past, we can understand its probable effects in the future.
Finally, paleontology is an increasingly important component of historical biology. The life around us today has been shaped through its long history, and understanding its past is important to understanding its present situation.
Understanding ancient life forms requires both an examination of the fossil record and living organisms.
Professor, (Ph.D., University of Oklahoma)
Assistant Professor (Ph.D., Yale University)
Soft Substrate Adaptations of Cretaceous Communities
Pennsylvanian and Cretaceous Biohermal Development and Comparison to Modern Lagoonal Reefs
Pennsylvanian Rostroconch Mollusks and Edrioasteroid Communities
Lower Cretaceous Dinosaur Trackways
Human Impact on Modern Coral Reefs
Charles P. Luginbill, 1985: Paleoecology of the Dennison Formation, Tarrant and Denton Counties, Texas
Edwin H. Westergaard, 1986: A New Cornute Species from the Asgill of Northern Ireland
Carol R. Hoadley, 1986: Paleoecology of Encrusting Epifauna on Echinoids and Oysters of the Mid-Cretaceous
J. Michael Hawthorne, 1987: The Stratigraphy and Depositional Environments of Dinosaur Tracks in the Edwards Plateau and Lampasas Cut Plain Provinces of Texas
Kurt Johnston, 1996: Conodont Biostratigraphy of the Derryan Type Section (Pennsylvanian), Sierra County, New Mexico
Angela Gaitros, 1996: Influence of Biological and Chemical Variations on Jamaican Reef Health
Georgina Cuzzort, 1997: A Classroom Without Walls – An Overview and Guide to the Geology of Miller Springs Nature Center, Lake Belton, Bell County, Texas
Elaine Alexander, 1998: Water Quality and Geologic Impacts on Macroinvertebrate Communities in the North Bosque River Watershed, Texas
Tambra Eifert, 1999: Morphologic and Stratigraphic Succession of the Carboniferous Blastoid Pentremites
Christopher R. Moses, 1999: Short-term Evolution of Reef Geomorphology and Biozonation, North Coast, Jamaica, W. I.
Tabitha Hutchinson, 2003: Introductory Oceanography Laboratories for Marine Stations.
Marie Maher, 2007: Lagoonal Patch Reef Development, Discovery Bay, Jamaica.
Isaac Westfield, 2008 (coadvised with Steve Dworkin): Identification of Sediment Sources, Pear Tree Bottom Reef, Runaway Bay, Jamaica.
Adam Dammon, in progress, Foraminiferal Biostratigraphy of the Austin Chalk, McLennan County, Texas.
Chris Gotcher, in progress, Stratigraphy of the Dinosaur track-bearing beds at Dinosaur Valley State Park.
John Mosley: Conodont Biostratigraphy, Tectonics, and Sea-Level Change in Upper Mississippian and Lower Pennsylvanian Strata in Utah and Nevada (August 1996)
Nick Pieracocos: Depositional Environments and Conodont Biofacies of the Council Grove Group (Early Permian) in the Hugoton Embayment, Southwestern Kansas and Oklahoma Panhandle (December 2001)
James Buice, 1983: Pre-Hurricane Allen Sedimentology of the Red Buoy Patch Reef, Discovery Bay, Jamaica
Karen L. Duffin, 1983: Paleoecology of Edwards Bioherms in Central Texas with a Comparison to Modern Lagoonal Patch Reefs
Michael E. Duffin, 1983: Paleoecology of the Pleistocene Falmouth Reef, Rio Bueno Harbor, Jamaica
Scott W. Fitzpatrick, 1983: Paleontology and Paleoecology of Trace Fossil Faunas in the Cambro-Ordovician Bliss Formation on Beach Mountain Near Van Horn, Texas
Billy D. Kruger Jr., 1983: Analysis of the Depositional Environment of the Del Rio Clay, Grayson Formation, Central Texas
J. Michael Hawthorne, 1983: Stratigraphy and Depositional Environment of the Dinosaur Track-Bearing Glen Rose Limestone in the Paluxy Basin, Texas
David Sanders, 1984: Paleoecology of the Weches Formation in Nacogdoches County, Texas
Mark H. Barber, 1985: Paleoenvironmental Interpretation of the East Mountain Shale in North-Central Texas
Charles Jay Love, Jr., 1985: Stratigraphy and Paleoecology of the Cedarton Shale (Canyon Group) in Brown and McCulloch Counties, Texas
Deanna J. Kimble, 1986: The Paleoecology of the Colony Creek Shale in North-Central Texas
Leonard R. Ellis, 1986: Biofacies relationships in the Fredericksburg Group of Central and North-Central Texas
Joseph R. Whiteside, 1987: A Study of Pennsylvanian (Late Morrowan) Edrioasteroidea from the Ardmore Basin, Southern Oklahoma
Alan B. Curtis, 1988: Paleoecology and Paleontology of Serpulid Bioherms in the Lower Glen Rose Limestone of Central Texas
Mike Sherrier, 1988: Identification and Correlation of Isochronous Units in Modern Lagoonal Sediments, Discovery Bay, Jamaica
Cynthia King, 1988: Paleoecology of Exogyra ponderosa
Duncan Aepli, 1989: Biostratigraphy and Paleoecology of the Grayson Formation, McLennan County, Central Texas
Richard Blank, 1995: The Nature of the Relationship between the Edwards and Georgetown Formations in Central Texas
Susan Cochran, 1996: Geomorphology and Biotic Density of Dairy Bull Reef, Discovery Bay, Jamaica
Matt Willis, 1997: Paleoecology and Distribution of Echinoderms in the Grayson Formation, McLennan County, Texas
Candice Carrell, 1998: Water Quality of Three North Jamaican Rivers and Related Reef Health
Karen Pate, 1999: Trace Fossils and Their Geological Significance in the Upper Cretaceous (Gulfian) Wolfe City Sand, Central Texas
William York, 2004, B. A. project on Pennsylvanian Edioasteroids.
Michael Wintersgill, 2004, The John Smith Agate Collection and its Relevance to Current Theories of Agate Formation.
Mary Rachel Bruner, 2005, Spacial Analysis and Visualization of Lower Cretaceous Dinosaur trackways in Dinosaur Valley State Park, Central Texas.
Westfield, Isaac, Steve Dworkin, Rena Bonem, and Emyris Short Lane, 2008, Identification of sediment sources using geochemical fingerprinting at Pear Tree Bottom Reef, Runaway Bay, Jamaica, in, Abstracts 11th International Coral Reef Symposium, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, p. 137
Sumrall, Colin D., James Sprinkle, and Rena M. Bonem, 2006, An edrioasteroid-dominated echinoderm assemblage from a Lower Pennsylvanian marine conglomerate in Oklahoma: Journal of Paleontology, v. 80, no. 2, p. 229-44.
Maher, Marie Ann and Rena Bonem, 2006, Construction of a Comprehensive Modern Lagoonal Reef Model for Interpretation of Ancient Bioherms: Annual Meeting, Geological Society of America, Philadelphia, PA, Abstracts with Programs, v. 38, no. 7, p. 228.
SC GSA Meeting, April 2, 2005: Bruner, Mary Rachel, Prochnow, Shane J., Bonem, Rena M., Cawthorn, Tim M., Ryan, Jeff D., and Zygo, Lisa M., Spatial analysis and visualization of Lower Cretaceous trackways in Dinosaur Valley State Park, Central Texas
Hawthorne, J. M., R. M. Bonem, J. O. Farlow, and J. O. Jones, 2002, Ichnology, stratigraphy and paleoenvironment of the Boerne Lake Spillway dinosaur tracksite, south-central Texas: Texas Journal of Science, v. 54,no. 4, p.309-324.
Moses, C. S. and R. M. Bonem, 2001, Recent population dynamics of Diadema antillarum and Tripneustes ventricosus along the north coast of Jamaica, W. I.: Bulletin of Marine Science, v. 68, no. 2, p. 327-36.
Bonem, R. M. and C. R. Moses, 1998, Reef Health - Nature Reverses the Trend in Jamaican Reefs: Currents, 98-4, p. 15.
Bonem, R. M. and C. R. Moses, 1998, Niche Expansion, Competition and Reef Dominance, -- Implication for the Geologic Record: Abstracts with Programs, v. 30, no. 7, 1998 Geological Society of America Annual Meeting, Toronto, Canada, p. A29.
Bonem, R. M., and J. G. Strykowski, 1993, Palaces Under the Sea: A Guide to Understanding the Coral Reef Environment: Star Thrower Foundation, Crystal River, Florida, 262 p.
Bonem, R. M., 1989, Effects of submarine karst development on reef succession, in Proceedings, 6th International Coral Reef Symposium, Townsville, Australia, 1988, v. 3, p. 419-23.
Bonem, R. M., 1989, Recognition of storm impact on the reef sediment record, in Proceeding as, 6th International Coral Reef Symposium, Townsville, Australia, 1988, v. 2, p. 475-78.
Bonem, R. M., 1984, Sedimentologic development of lagoonal patch reefs: Advances in Reef Sciences, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, p. 12-13.
Bonem, R. M., 1982, Morphology and paleoecology of the Devonian Rostroconch Genus Bigalea: Journ. of Paleontology, v. 56, p. 1362-74.