Alex Hastings

Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Reptilian Predators of the Ancient New World Tropics:
Bizarre Crocodiles and a Titanic Snake

Alex Hastings, PhD
Visiting Instructor, Department of Geology and Geography, Georgia Southern University

Noon–1 p.m.
Earth Theater, First Floor
Carnegie Museum of Natural History

Photo: Hastings with fossilized remains of the new species of ancient crocodile relative Acherontisuchus guajiraensis from Cerrejón.

Following the mass extinction of non-avian dinosaurs 65 million years ago, large-bodied reptiles underwent major transformations in the New World Tropics during the Paleocene Epoch (65–55 million years ago). Excavations from the Cerrejón coal mine in northeastern Colombia have unearthed fossil reptiles from this transitional period. New evidence shows differences in prey acquisition as well as novel prey types. Snakes reached the greatest size known to science with the occurrence of Titanoboa cerrejonensis, a boa relative that reached lengths of 42 feet or more and weighed 1.25 tons.

Alex Hastings obtained his Bachelors of Science degree from Penn State University, then went on to get his PhD at the University of Florida. His dissertation research was on the fossil crocodyliforms of the Cerrejón coal mine in northeastern Colombia. During his research, he played a part in the discovery of the largest snake, Titanoboa.

Related Publication: Hastings, A.K., J.I. Bloch, and C.A. Jaramillo. 2011. A new longirostrine dyrosaurid (Crocodylomorpha, Mesoeucrocodylia) from the Paleocene of north-eastern Colombia: biogeographic and behavioral implications for New World Dyrosauridae. Palaeontology, 54(5):195–1116.

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