Lycoming College biology professor receives $1,000 paleontology grant

Lycoming College biology professor receives $1,000 paleontology grant

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Lycoming College assistant professor of biology, David Broussard, Ph.D., received a $1,000 grant from the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society to support his efforts at Red Hill, a 360 million-year-old fossil site in Clinton County, as well as his work at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. With the grant, Broussard hopes to gain a better understanding of the paleoecology of Red Hill by quantifying variation in species diversity as well as size of the fossil vertebrates.

Broussard began working at the site in 2009, when he first took his vertebrate biology students on a field trip. It was formed during the late Devonian period from a large, lowland river with extensive floodplains at a time when what is now called Pennsylvania was situated just below the equator and had a much warmer climate. Some of the earliest known "tetrapods," aka creatures with four limbs, have been found there, as well as many unique species.

"Several species of plants and animals have been identified and described from Red Hill and have been found only at Red Hill," Broussard said. "The Devonian period is known as the 'Age of Fishes' and there are fossils of several different types of extinct fishes found there, including armored – external bony armor – fishes known as placoderms, spiny sharks, teeth of freshwater sharks, several species of lobe-finned fishes, and small, ray-finned fishes."

Cory Trego, a senior biology major and recipient of the college’s Joanne and Arthur Haberberger Fellowship, works with Broussard at Red Hill, where he helps to analyze and document fossils, collecting data for his honor’s project. He began planning the project with Broussard last fall.

Lycoming College is a four-year, residential liberal arts and sciences school dedicated to the undergraduate education of 1,400 students. Its rigorous academic program, vibrant residential community and supportive faculty foster successful student outcomes. Lycoming offers 36 academic majors and is recognized as a Tier 1 institution by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1812 and located near the banks of the Susquehanna River in Williamsport, Pa., Lycoming is one of the 50 oldest colleges in the nation. For more information, visit www.lycoming.edu.