Thomas R. O'Donnell

Posts Tagged ‘Jean Young’

A huge Iowa impact’s role in a big, scary fossil discovery

In University research on September 14, 2015 at 9:17 pm
A conception of Pentecopterus, drawn by Yale University's Patrick Lynch.

A conception of Pentecopterus, drawn by Yale University’s Patrick Lynch.

Decorah, generally known for its Norwegian-American museum, Luther College and spectacular Iowa River scenery, became famous for another reason in the last couple of weeks.

The Winneshiek County seat community has lent its name to an ancient resident: an intimidating, potentially man-sized sea creature armed with terrifying tentacle-like appendages.

Scientists at Yale University and the Iowa Geological Survey (IGS), based at the University of Iowa Oakdale campus, published the research in a recent issue of BMC Evolutionary Biology. The creature is so strange and menacing – and the artist’s rendition so eye-catching – that websites and newspapers around the world picked up the story.

Lost in the hoopla, however, is the deeper (literally) discovery behind the now-famous fossil.

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Digging into a crater’s past in Decorah

In Uncategorized on February 21, 2013 at 4:05 am

drillJust about everyone from Iowa knows about the famed Manson Impact Structure, a divot 23 miles across at the point where Humboldt, Webster, Calhoun and Pocahontas counties meet. Researchers say a meteor smacked the area about 74 million years ago, leaving what the Iowa Geological & Water Survey says is “the largest intact, on-shore meteorite crater in the United States.”

Well, I’m not sure how big the news is here, but earlier this week the Washington Post reported on research suggesting there’s another, smaller (4 miles across) crater in the vicinity of Decorah, in Iowa’s far northeast corner, giving the state an imaginary face a little like Popeye’s.

The story is well done, but doesn’t delve into the interesting Iowan who helped find the first clues of the crater’s existence.

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