Professor Hillary Maddin Makes Important Discovery

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Professor Hillary Maddin looking at the CT data of a baby alligator skull. This research aims to understand the evolution of the skull by examining its embryonic development. 

Professor Hillary Maddin looking at the CT data of a baby alligator skull. This research aims to understand the evolution of the skull by examining its embryonic development.


Professor Hillary Maddin has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the history of life in Canada. She co-authored a paper that was published yesterday in the Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences, entitled "Re-evaluation of the historic Canadian fossil Bathygnathus borealis from the Early Permian of Prince Edward Island". Her co-authors are affiliated with the University of Toronto (Mississauga) and the Royal Ontario Museum. 

The fossil in question was discovered in 1845 by a farmer who was digging a well on his property outside of French River, PEI. This makes it the second-oldest known vertebrate fossil from this country. It was originally mistaken as a dinosaur fossil. However, Maddin and her team used family trees and imaging techniques to determine that the eight preseserved teeth actually trace back to the Dimetrodon family. They have thus renamed the fossil Dimetrodon borealis, literally meaning "two long teeth" (Dimetrodon) "from the north" (borealis). 


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