Our Upcoming Speaker

Note: During the COVID-19 Pandemic our meetings are being held using the Zoom web app. Invitations will be sent to members and visitors on request by email

MONDAY, August 3, 2020 AT 7:00 PM Central Time USA

About the Speaker: 

   Olivia King, is a Master’s student in Applied Science specializing in paleontology/palynology at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Olivia’s research focus for her Master’s Thesis is on Mississippian-aged rocks in New Brunswick from 350 Million years ago known as Romer’s Gap in the Carboniferous Period. Her graduate work will refine the geological age of the Albert Formation in Norton NB by using fossil spores and pollen trapped in the rocks. These rocks and the fossils they contain are from a time when amphibians made the transition from water to land marking an important moment in the story of animal evolution. Olivia’s research in collaboration with Assistant Curator of Geology Matt Stimson, and other researchers internationally, also includes fossil footprints of amphibian, reptiles and invertebrates, feeding traces of giant sea scorpions, fossil plants, and early amphibian skeletons.

   Olivia has been working at the New Brunswick Museum for 5 summers as the Geological Research Assistant and has been volunteering on various research related events during the school year that have led to a number of important fossil discoveries in NB and Nova Scotia. Her collaborative work in Devonian to Permian-aged rocks of Atlantic Canada and Alabama has covered a range of paleontology fields from from Ichnology, Paleobotany, ,palynology, to vertebrate paleontology. She has coauthored 3 papers, including the results presented here, numerous scientific presentations at the Atlantic Geoscience Society, media articles. Olivia was awarded the George Frederick Matthew Fellowship in 2017-2018 and her work has earned her the title of Research Associate at the New Brunswick Museum where she continues to conduct much of her research from. 

   Prior to her graduate studies, Olivia was an undergraduate student in the Department of Earth Sciences at Dalhousie University in Halifax. It was there that she completed a Directed Study paper re-evaluating the Ichnotaxonomy of Kouphichnium and Xiphosuran traces from the Union Chapel Mines in Alabama.  This paper was co-authored with Matt Stimson and Dr. Spencer Lucas in the Peer reviewed Journal Ichnos. She continues to work on invertebrate ichnological papers applying what she’s learned to similar aged strata at Joggins Nova Scotia and to Carboniferous rocks in New Brunswick.  



   Since its discovery, the Steven Minkin Fossil site at the Union Chapel Mine (UCM) in Walker County, Alabama, USA, has become one of the most productive continental ichnofossil sites from the Pennsylvanian Period. This exceptional trace-fossil Lagerstätte was preserved in a Pennsylvanian-aged, tidally influenced estuary known as the Pottsville Formation. This estuary was periodically inundated by normal marine conditions represented by limestones containing body fossils of punctate brachiopods and other saltwater organisms. Best known for its vertebrate trackways, the invertebrate trace fossil record at UCM is also extensive with the horseshoe crab inchotaxa Kouphichnium aspodon being one of the more commonly identified ichnospecies. The ichnogenus Kouphichnium and many associated ichnotaxa have been attributed to xiphosuran (horseshoe crab) activity at this and many other sites worldwide and throughout the fossil record. 
   The ichnospecies K. aspodon was re-examined in a recently published paper, and has been better defined from the numerous samples collected from the UCM. New species (K. minkinensis and K. atkinsoni) have been identified and it were suggested to have been made by other sea scorpions rather than the classic interpretation of Kouphichnbium of horseshow crabs. Additionally, many invertebrate tracks previously assigned to Kouphichnium have now reinterpreted and do not belong to the Kouphichnium and were made by some other insect.
   The large sample size offers a unique opportunity to study the variation in some Kouphichnium ichnospecies from Pennsylvanian-age strata with broader implications for other localities where Kouphichnium are common, like Joggins, Nova Scotia. Although comparable in age, Joggins and UCM have very different fossil assemblages and depositional settings. What we have learned from UCM can be applied more broadly to use this trace fossil to help identify salt water influence at places like Joggins. These 2 sites will be compared to help us understand the broader ecologies and habitats of these living fossils. 

Olivia King, B.S., Master's Student 

St. Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia


MONDAY, August 3, 2020 AT 7:00 PM
Zoom Invitation Sent to Members and Guests by Email

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