the Alabama Paleontological Society, Inc.


Next APS Meeting: Monday June 6, 2016

TITLE:  “Recent Discoveries and New Insights into the Biology and Diversity of the Armored Dinosaurs”

SPEAKER:  Dr. Michael Burns, Assistant Professor, Jacksonville State University


I am a newly hired assistant professor of biology at Jacksonville State University specializing in vertebrate anatomy and paleontology. Originally from Scranton, Pennsylvania, I completed a BSc in geology at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. My work on armored dinosaur (ankylosaur) osteoderms at the State Museum of Pennsylvania allowed me to confirm the validity of the species Glyptodontopelta mimus.  My MSc and PhD in biology were both done at the University of Alberta in Canada under Dr. Phil Currie. There, my research focused on growth, ontogeny, and the paleohistology of armored dinosaurs. I have participated in the collection of dinosaur specimens in New Mexico, Alberta, and Mongolia, and have been involved with naming two ankylosaur species from New Mexico: Ahshislepelta minor and Ziapelta sanjuanensis. I’ve also traveled extensively to study ankylosaurs in collections throughout Asia, Europe, and North America. Currently, I’m hoping to set up a paleohistology laboratory at Jacksonville State University to study Alabama’s vertebrate fossils using this increasingly popular technique.


LOCATION: Birmingham Zoo -- Auditorium
For directions to the Zoo, see the Zoo’s Website at 
Prior to the meeting everyone is invited to the optional supper at Taziki's Greek Fare in Mountain Brook next to the Hampton Inn, 2737 Highway 280 S, Mountain Brook, AL. (*NOT* the location farther out Highway 280). We gather there about 5:30/5:45pm.

PUBLICATION ANNOUNCEMENT:  Footprints in Stone by Ron Buta and David Kopaska-Merkel.  The long-awaited publication of the story of the preservation of the the Union Chapel Mine as the Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site is due to occur in June 2016.  Following a long and suspense-filled campaign by the APS during which it seemed that this priceless Carboniferous track site might be obliterated under the requirements of federal legislation, the site was taken into the State Lands of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources in 2004 and has since been available for field trips by schools, university classes, and other natural history-related organizations.   Footprints in Stone tells the story of the world’s most prolific Carboniferous trackway site and the people who helped preserve it.

APS Field Trip to the Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site:  APS visited the Minkin Track Site on April 9, 2016 and hosted the Fresh Air Family with about 60 visitors.  The day was perfect, with comfortable temperatures and sharp low-angle sunlight, perfect for hunting tracks.  A number of excellent finds were made.  The site has abundant Pennsylvanian fossils from the Pottsville formation (~310 million years old.



                  View of the Site                                  APS Members Bruce Relihan and Missy Turner

          A fish swimming trace (Undichna)            Small amphibian trackway found by Missy Turner


Large amphibian track and invertebrate trackway         Arthropod resting trace (Arborichnus)             


Multiple trilobite burrowing traces (Rusophycus)              Small arthropod trackway

  Two large amphibian tracks (Attenosaurus)                 Medium-sized Attenosaurus trackway

               Lycopod cone                                             Limulid (horseshoe crab) deep undertracks

FIELD TRIPS: APS conducts monthly field trips to fossil localities in Alabama and surrounding states strictly with permission of landowners (please refer to our Ethical Statement for further details).  In accordance with our Statement of Purpose, we frequently make educational presentations to schools and public gatherings on subjects related to paleontology.   Field trip participation is generally limited to members but individuals interested in coming on a field trip as a guest with an eye towards membership should contact APS President Ashley Allen (, Vice President Prescott Atkinson ( or Field Trip Coordinator Milo Washington (  We have also hosted classes ranging from upper elementary school grades to college geology groups and other groups with an interest in geology and paleontology on select field trips.


Interactive Photographic Index to the Steven C. Minkin Paleozoic Footprint Site (maintained by Dr. Ron Buta): a newly updated collection of photos from the Minkin site that are much easier to view:

Trace Fossils of the Crescent Valley Mine - a large collection of vertebrate tracks amassed by Dr. Ron Buta in his visits to this surface coal mine located very close to the underground coal mine which was the source of the vertebrate tracks described in the 1930 Bulletin of the Alabama Museum of Natural History by Aldrich and Jones: PUBLISHED!  Here is a link to a new paper by Dr Buta and collaborators on the CVM site with many beautiful photographs:  The reference is:  Buta, R. J., Pashin, J. C., Minter, N. J., and Kopaska-Merkel, D. C. 2013, "Ichnology and Stratigraphy of the Crescent Valley Mine: Evidence for a Carboniferous Megatracksite in Walker County, Alabama," in The Carboniferous-Permian Transition, New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, S. G. Lucas et al., eds., Vol. 60, pp. 42-56.

Downloadable Guide to the Minkin Footprint Site by Drs Ron Buta and David Kopaska-Merkel:  Minkin Guide - optimized Apr 6 2012.pdf

Minkin Track Site Monograph link:  This link contains PDF files for the multiauthor monograph on the tracks and plants from the Minkin Track Site including an extensive photographic atlas:

Alabama Museum of Natural History:  The AMNH sponsors a great program of family friendly weekend field trips throughout the year to various sites focusing on geology, paleontology, ecology and other areas.  The AMNH has an immense paleo research collection accumulated over the past 100 years (including what may be the largest mosasaur collection in the world) and is always looking for volunteers to help with cleaning and cataloguing specimens.  In addition, for the past 30 years the AMNH has conducted a several week-long summer Expedition, usually focused on archaeology or paleontology in which participants  camp in the field and work with experts to uncover the remote history of human activities in Alabama or the much more ancient fossil inhabitants of the State: .   This is the link for Dana Ehret’s collection of images from the collection: .  The site is under construction but will be adding images over the coming months.

McWane Science Center: In addition to its world class interactive exhibits on the other sciences and its eye-popping IMAX Theatre, the McWane Center has a spectacular fossil exhibit, with lifesize replicas of dinosaurs including several whose remains have been found in Alabama, as well as the actual fossil remains of other fossil creatures that once inhabited the State such as a virtually complete mosasaur (a giant marine Cretaceous lizard related to the Komodo dragon) and a giant ground sloth: .  This is the link to McWane’s extensive new collection section with images of specimens in their collection:

Oceans of Kansas:  Mike Everhart’s spectacular website on the Cretaceous world, focusing on the western interior sea previously occupying present day Kansas, USA:

Winds of Kansas:   Roy Beckemeyer’s encyclopedic website on  recent and fossil insects, with particular emphasis on the Permian insect fauna of the Wellington Formation in Kansas and Oklahoma and numerous interesting links:

In Memoriam:  Frank David Lueth November 5, 1940-July 7, 2007. For those of you who knew him, this youtube photographic tribute to David created by his daughter is a wonderful memory of one of our departed friends:

A society of amateur and professional paleontologists interested in the collection, interpretation, and dissemination of knowledge of fossils and the rich natural history of the State of Alabama.  

Membership is open to anyone who shares the interests of the Society.