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November Meeting: Mosasaurs: Unearthing the Ocean’s Prized Predators – Ms. Bethany Burke

November 16, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Free – $20.00


5:00 – 6:30 PM: FLC Senior Posters and Discussion
5:30 – 6:30 PM: Dinner and complementary Drinks
6:30 – 7:30 PM: Society Business and Main Presentation
7:30 – 7:45 PM: Raffle to raise money for students

Talk Title: Mosasaurs: Unearthing the Ocean’s Prized Predators – Ms. Bethany Burke


Wiped out by the K-Pg extinction 66 million years ago, mosasaurs served as the ultimate exploration of fully aquatic predation for the order Squamata. Mosasauridae thrived in Cretaceous waters as apex predators, similar to carnivorous dinosaurs ruling the land. However, mosasaurs were marine lizards and not part of the dinosaur lineage. Related to modern varanid lizards like the Komodo dragon, mosasaurs represented the last group of large marine reptiles. The fossil record of these marine leviathans reveals a story of rapid evolution, impressive diversity, widespread distribution, and environmental success. Despite their [mosasauridae] historical significance, out of the 12,000 known extant reptile species, only a mere 100 are classified as marine reptiles. This raises the question: If mosasaurs were so successful, what sets them apart from modern varanids to the extent that reptiles have been unable to fill the niches they left behind? The purpose of this presentation is to correct common misconceptions about mosasaurs for those with a general interest. At the same time, it aims to emphasize the importance of mosasaurs in the marine vertebrate record for individuals with a specific interest in marine life, providing in-depth information on their lineage, anatomy, and environmental data.

About the Speaker:

Ms. Bethany Burke
Bethany Burke is a vertebrate paleontologist and science communicator from Austin, Texas known for enthusiastic talks for children aged 3 to 17 and her series of college lectures on mosasaurs of Texas. Bethany is known online as BKBones, her children’s paleontology educator persona (think The Magic School Bus’s Ms. Frizzle, but only with dinosaurs.) Graduating from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas with a communications degree after a successful thesis defense, Bethany went on to earn her certifications in advanced fossil preparation and techniques, with additional distinctions in replica making and field paleontology techniques. After spending her first dig season in Colorado on a two-week trip in 2021 for college credit, Bethany went on to secure a coveted field and research intern position at The Montana Dinosaur Center for four months in the summer of 2022. In 2023 Ms. Burke was named Primary Investigator and Lead Researcher for paleontology museum Texas Through Time’s marine reptile research site. The site is TTT’s first officially established research location, and Ms. Burke will be responsible for all of the museum’s hallmark Texas marine research going forward. Her current investigation focus is on the so far unidentified plesiosaur species from the site, as well as the site’s nearly complete Tylosaurus skull. Ms. Burke’s upcoming publications will be coming out under her married name, Bethany K.B. Franklin. Ms. Burke has been featured as a guest lecturer at over 50 libraries in Texas, several Texas higher learning institutions, as part of the Texas Through Time paleo lecture series, as a guest on Dr. Brian Curtice of Fossil Crates’ Paleontology outreach program Paleo Portals, as a Keynote Guest on Rockhound Talk Live, and as docent and paleontology consultant at The Heritage Museum of the Texas Hill Country in Canyon Lake, Texas.



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November 16, 2023
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Free – $20.00