|Thursday, October 25th, 2007
This week, an international team of Chinese, British, American and Japanese paleontologists reported finding rare fossilized footprints made by two different kinds of ìraptorsî from 120 million year old rocks in Shandong Province, China.
The discovery, published this week in the prestigious European journal Naturwissenschaften, has a local tie as Dixie State College of Utah paleontologist Dr. Jerry Harris is one of the six authors that contributed to the report. This paper marks the second time this year that Dr. Harris and his colleagues have been published by the European publication. Last March, he was part of a report on fossilized tracks of a roadrunner-type bird also found in the same Chinese province from the same time era.
Dr. Harris is quoted in the paper on the predatory nature of these raptors, known as Dromaeopodus, and whether they traveled in a group or pack.
ìAnimals that live in groups almost always have relatively sophisticated behaviors that often involve cooperation in some activities,î Dr. Harris stated in the report. ìSo even though itís impossible to say whether the makers of the Dromaeopodus tracks were hunting when they made the tracks, it certainly suggests that such behavior really was possible.î
Dr. Harris has taught science courses at Dixie State College since 2004. He teaches Introduction to Geology and Introduction to Dinosaurs. He also works closely with the City of St. George and the new Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm in St. George. Last summer, Dr. Harris was part of a trio of a joint Chinese-American team of scientists that unearthed dozens of fossils in northwestern China that provide some rare clues about the evolution of modern birds from their prehistoric dinosaurian ancestors ñ the now famous Archaeopteryx. The discovery is being called the ìmissing link in bird evolution.î
Harris holds a doctorate in earth and environmental science from the University of Pennsylvania, a masterís degree in geology from Southern Methodist University and a bachelorís degree in geoscience from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
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