Where in the world are they? The who, what, and where from our international curatorial team.
The Early Eocene Green River Formation in Wyoming has produced thousands of complete fossils, primarily fishes. Recently, Kevin Seymour was part of a team that described the world's most primitive known bat, based on a complete skeleton from the Green River Formation (see ROM, Winter 2008). This study demonstrated that the earliest bats flew but had not yet evolved the ability to echolocate--the sonar method by which bats navigate and forage. Currently, Seymour is in the process of describing a new fossil bird, distantly related to the living parrots, from this same area, also based on a complete ROM specimen.
Mark Peck continues his shorebird research in James and Hudson bays of northern Ontario, working with teams of students, volunteers, and biologists from the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Canadian Wildlife Service. The teams monitor shorebird breeding and stopover sites and provide important information on shorebird numbers, length of stay, annual productivity, and species diversity. Banding programs and recently developed websites allow researchers to track and share information from the Arctic to the wintering grounds in South America. Southwest James Bay is a critically important fall stopover site for waterfowl and shorebirds and it is hoped that the information learned on these expeditions will lead to better protection of the birds and of this unique part of Ontario.
Kenneth R. Lister
A November 1935 eye-witness report from Pangnirtung, Baffin Island, describing a picturesque scene of Inuit families sailing away in whaleboats for their winter trapping areas is a critical image in Kenneth Lister's research. The use of wood whaleboats manufactured in foreign boat-building shops represents a significant change from the traditional Inuit skin-on-frame umiaks and kayaks. It is not only a change of boat type, but a change that influenced the financial, subsistence, social, and spiritual realms of the Inuit world. Centred in Pangnirtung, Lister's research investigates the complexities of culture change as the Inuit altered their reliance on traditional kayak technology to that of a boat type acquired through commercial relations.
West Asian Civilizations
Because of the political situation in Syria, Robert Mason's fieldwork in that country is on indefinite hiatus, and he is focusing on other areas of research. Recently, Harvard's Art Museum and Semitic Museum asked Mason to visit and share his expertise on their collections of pottery made in the Middle East between 700 and 1700. Mason was able to identify and authenticate a number of treasures in the Harvard collections that were previously unidentified. A particularly interesting piece is this bowl from 10th-century northeast Iran with what seems to be a central Asian shaman depicted on it.
Ka Bo Tsang
To gain a better understanding of historic trade relations between China and the rest of the world, Ka Bo Tsang undertook a study tour of various sites in south China in October 2011. She was especially captivated by the techniques and ingredients used to make porcelain at Jingdezhen, for centuries one of the world's most famous ceramic centres. She also visited the impressive Guangdong Maritime Silk Road Museum to see both "Nanhai No. 1," a cargo vessel shipwrecked between 1127 and 1279 just after it departed on a trade voyage, and the pottery from Jingdezhen that was found in its hold. The ship was carrying an estimated load of 50,000 to 70,000 items, primarily ceramics.
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|Date:||Sep 22, 2012|
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