8 hours ago • By Evelyn Boswell MSU News Service
BOZEMAN — A casual conversation in the Japanese city of Fukui led to renowned paleontologists from Montana State University and China publishing a paper together in the Dec. 12 issue of the journal “Science.”
David Varricchio and Xing Xu — who wrote that birds definitely descended from dinosaurs — were attending a conference in Fukui, Japan, last year when they struck up a conversation during one of their breaks, said Varricchio, associate professor in MSU’s Department of Earth Sciences. When Xu told Varricchio about the paper he was writing, Varricchio suggested that he might be able to contribute. Modern birds were thought to have developed from dinosaurs, and Varricchio is an expert on dinosaur reproduction from theropods to birds.
The encounter resulted in Varricchio becoming co-author on the Science paper titled “An integrative approach to understanding bird origins.” Xu is the lead author. Among the other five co-authors is Gregory Erickson, former graduate student of Jack Horner, the curator of paleontology and regents professor of paleontology at MSU’s Museum of the Rockies. Erickson is now in the Department of Biological Science at Florida State University.