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Wyoming State Museum
Barrett Building
2301 Central Avenue
Cheyenne, Wy 82002
(307) 777-7022

Tropical Tapirs in Wyoming Focus of State Museum Lecture

Posted: Monday, February 11, 2019
Contact: Nathan Doerr, 307-777-7021

Tropical Tapirs in Wyoming will be the focus of a special lecture at the Wyoming State Museum on Thursday, February 21, at 7 p.m.

During the lecture, Dr. Laura Vietti, paleontologist and University of Wyoming Geological Museum Collections manager, will explore the origins, evolution, and preservation of Wyoming’s most recent fossil tapir discovery.

In the summer of 2016, a large mammal was recovered from Wyoming State Lands in the ~53 million-year-old Fossil Lake strata near Kemmerer, Wyo.

Initial investigations suggest that this mammal is likely a type of tapir, a hoofed mammal loosely related to rhinoceros and horses, which is now extinct in North America. In light of this recent discovery, Dr. Vietti will speak about the origins of tapirs in North America, will touch on the significance of this newly discovered fossil, and will end on the unusual death and decay that lead it to be deposited in a tropical paleo-lake. The fossil is currently on display at the Wyoming State Museum.

This presentation is part of the University of Wyoming’s annual Darwin Days public lecture that celebrates the impact and significance of concepts first presented by Darwin on science today. Darwin Days is a collaborative event co-sponsored by the University of Wyoming Geological Museum, Biodiversity Institute, and this year, the Wyoming State Museum.

According to Dr. Vietti, “Wyoming has one of the best fossil records in the country. We are excited to branch out to the Cheyenne community and highlight one of Wyoming’s most recent fossil discoveries that tells of warmer times, and the origin of tapirs in North America, as a way to celebrate Darwin’s lasting legacy on science today.”

Dr. Laura Vietti is a paleontologist and the University of Wyoming Geological Museum and Collections Manager. She is a Wyoming native who went to the University of Wyoming for her undergraduate degree, then attended the University of Minnesota for her Ph.D. She’s been with the University of Wyoming for almost 5 years and is actively working to digitize Wyoming’s incredible fossil record, and researches how microbes play a role in the fossilization of bone.

The lecture is free and open to the public. The Wyoming State Museum is located in the Barrett Building, 2301 Central Avenue in Cheyenne.

For more information, contact Nathan Doerr, Curator of Education, at 777-7021.