Thomas Schramm Wins Award For Presentation at National Geology Meeting
Thomas Schramm, presenting at American Geological Society Meeting in Denver, CO
New Paltz student Thomas Schramm (’09) presented a poster at the Geological Society of America meeting held last week in Denver, Colorado. Schramm was awarded second place for the presentation of his work in the “best student presentation of a poster on the topic of paleontology” contest run by the Paleontological Society. With nearly 100 students presenting, ranging from the undergraduate to Ph.D. level, Schramm’s award stands out as the only undergraduate to receive an commendation. The research was done in collaboration with Dr. Alex Bartholomew, assistant professor of geology at SUNY New Paltz.
Research by Schramm and Bartholomew led to the discovery of the oldest occurrence of several key fossils in eastern North America. The team has been investigating the Devonian Period (416ma-359ma), specifically, faunal change during the Middle Devonian (~391ma) across eastern North America. The Devonian Period records major changes in the biosphere in Earth’s history, including the rise of jawed fishes and the development of terrestrial ecosystems from low-diversity assemblages dominated by small plants and a few arthropods at the base of the Devonian to full-fledged forests biomes with land-adapted vertebrates and the oldest insects and spiders at the end of the Devonian.
Schramm and Bartholomew’s research focused on constraining the timing of a major faunal turnover in the Devonian seas recorded by rocks in the Hudson Valley, specifically, how quickly one community of organisms on the sea floor replaced the previous community. The rocks of the Hudson Valley record the particular interval between the last known occurrence of the older “Stony Hollow Fauna” and the younger “Hamilton Fauna”, a period of time not usually well represented in the rock record elsewhere in eastern North America. The researchers targeted this interval and sampled known fossil-bearing horizons previously identified by Dr. Charles Ver Straeten of the New York State Museum (also a graduate of the Geology Department at New Paltz), discovering the oldest known occurrence of several important fossil taxa including the brachiopods Tropidoleptus and Mediospirifer. These taxa are members of the younger “Hamilton Fauna” and help to further constrain the timing of faunal change during this interval.