CFI Okanagan is collaborating with Okanagan College’s Department of Geography and Earth & Environmental Science for this event.

Okanagan College Lecture Theatre (S104), 1000 KLO Rd.

7pm, Wednesday 21st August

This event is free to paid-up members of CFI Canada, $5 to the general public.

About the presentation:

Late Cretaceous amber recovered from the Grassy Lake locality in southern Alberta provides an important and remarkably diverse collection of fossil inclusions from approximately 78 million years ago. With the recent resurgence in work on this material, many new insects have been discovered, and we have also gained a better understanding of the amber-producing forest that existed at the time. Rare inclusions of minute feather fragments have also provided one of the most complete snapshots of plumage diversity, structure and colouration available for the Mesozoic. Although tiny, these inclusions appear to represent feathers indistinguishable from those of modern birds, alongside simple ‘protofeathers’ that may have belonged to dinosaurs.


About the presenter:

Ryan McKellar is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Kansas, and a Sessional Lecturer at the University of Alberta. He was educated at the U of A, with degrees spanning a range of palaeontological topics including: vertebrate palaeontology, particularly theropod dinosaurs (B.Sc.); invertebrate palaeontology, specifically the Devonian phacopid trilobites of Morocco (M.Sc.); and palaeoentomology (Ph.D.). His doctoral dissertation dealt with inclusions in Canadian amber. The main focus of this work was parasitic Hymenoptera (microscopic wasps) in amber, but work on the deposit permitted the study of a number of other insect groups, along with unique inclusions, such as feather fragments. In addition to studying amber inclusions, Dr. McKellar has been involved in the use of Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy, and stable isotope analyses of amber, in an effort to characterize various amber deposits. Combined with amber inclusions, this line of research has provided a more comprehensive picture of source trees in amber-producing forests, as well as some of the ecological conditions at the time of amber production.

Dr. McKellar is currently involved in an effort to expand the number of inclusion-bearing amber deposits being studied within western Canada, as well as research on a broad range of arthropod groups. Ongoing amber research will provide a more comprehensive record of insect evolution, palaeo-forests, and terrestrial conditions throughout the Late Cretaceous and into the Paleocene. Alberta offers one of the most complete records throughout this time interval, as well as the opportunity to study amber in direct association with dinosaur remains

A Huffington Post article about some of Dr. McKellar’s research: