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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
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Artist’s reconstruction of a new fossil species Hemignathus vorpalis (bottom), based on its probable resemblance to adult males of its genus: H. wilsoni (Akiapola’au, above) and H. lucidus hanepepe (Kauai Nukupu’u, middle). Illustration © J. Hume


Artist’s reconstruction of a new fossil species Hemignathus vorpalis (bottom), based on its probable resemblance to adult males of its genus: H. wilsoni (Akiapola’au, above) and H. lucidus hanepepe (Kauai Nukupu’u, middle).

Illustration © J. Hume

 

Hans Sues
Hans Sues in the field

Hans-Dieter Sues, PhD, associate director for research and collections, studies dinosaurs and their relatives. Collecting fossils around the world, he has discovered scores of new species of extinct reptiles and precursors of mammals, including several new dinosaurs.


Evolution helps researchers like me to interpret the remains of ancient animals and plants and to understand the history of life.

When I was four years old, my parents gave me a book with reconstructions of ancient animals and plants. The wondrous, long-vanished forms of life left a deep impression on me, and I started collecting and learning about fossils.

As part of my dissertation research, I studied the structure of the skull in early relatives of mammals. The bones at the back of the lower jaw in the precursors of mammals gradually became the three tiny bones in the ear of mammals. It was a wonderful example of a major evolutionary change.

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