Office of University Relations
SDSM& T News
501 E. St. Joseph Street • Rapid City, SD 57701- 3995
Phone: ( 605) 394- 6082/ 2554 • Fax: ( 605) 394- 6177
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 10, 1999
UAB ALUMNI IS GETTING NATIONAL EXPOSURE
Gordon L. Bell, a graduate of the University of Alabama, Birmingham and current Assistant Professor of Geology and Geological Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology ( SDSM& T), is attracting national attention for his research efforts at SDSM& T. Bell recently had an article he co- wrote appear in Nature, an international journal of science, and entertained a television crew from abc interested in his recent article as well as his discovery of a female mosasaur.
“ The origin of snake feeding” appeared in the August 12 issue of Nature. Bell co- wrote the article with Michael S. Y. Lee, Department of Zoology, University of Queensland, and Michael W. Caldwell, Paleobiology Division, Canadian Museum of Nature. The article discuses their new found evidence that mososaurs, prehistoric marine reptiles, share a common ancestry with modern snakes. The hypothesis was made based upon the two animals having flexible mandibular joints in their lower joints and ptergoid in their upper palette. The beginning of the article states that recent analysis “ indicate that the nearest relatives of snakes are the Mosasauroidea ( here termed ‘ mosasaurs’), medium- sized to gigantic Cretaceous marine lizards.”
The publication of the article attracted the attention of the Discovery Channel and enticed abc, who produces a show titled ‘ Discovery News’ for the Discovery Channel, to come and spotlight Bell’s research. A television crew traveled to Rapid City the weekend of August 27- 29 to tape the segment.
In addition to the recent article, the Discovery Channel was also interested in Bell’s discovery three years ago of the first female mosasaur with fetus ever to be excavated. While working at a field dig site near Chamberlain, Bell and Dr. Amy Sheldon of the Graduate School of Physical Therapy at the University of Mobile ( Alabama) discovered the mosasaur. To date four fetus’ have been identified, and there could be more.
In the past when mosasaurs have been discovered, scientists were unable to determine the sex of the animal. Bell and Sheldon were able to classify their find as a female because they discovered it was carrying a fetus.
For more information about Dr. Gordon Bell’s research efforts, contact the Office of University Relations at ( 605) 394- 6082/ 2554.
( I: univrel/ pressrel/ 0899 Gordon Bell fxd stwd)
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