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News Release 9 March 2005
Binky Strickland
Public Relations Specialist
Fax: 478-445-6795

University Communications
Georgia College & State University
Campus Box 97
Milledgeville GA 31061

GC&SU Professor and Graduate Student Illuminate Georgia's Ice Age History

(Milledgeville, GA) -- When you think of Georgia history, Columbian mammoths, giant bison, and massive land tortoises are usually not the first things to come to mind. But paleontological research conducted by a Georgia College & State University faculty member and graduate student shows that these creatures did indeed roam coastal Georgia.

Graduate student Bob Bahn and Dr. Al Mead, an assistant professor in the department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at GC&SU, will present their research on the Pleistocene fossils from coastal Georgia at the 54th Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America to be held March 17-18 in Biloxi, Miss.

"Compared to neighboring states, fossil localities containing abundant remains of Ice Aged organisms are exceptionally rare in Georgia," said Mead. "Excavations near Brunswick, Ga., have yielded abundant fossil remains of Columbian mammoths and giant bison. Thus far we have collected portions of two mammoths and three giant bison."

A nearly complete skull and partial skeleton of the giant bison with approximately a 6-foot horn span is on display in the GC&SU Natural History Museum. Mead, along with Bahn and a number of undergraduate students, has also collected bones of deer, small rodents, birds, alligators, snakes, turtles, frogs, and fish. Mead is working with Dr. Fred Rich at Georgia Southern University to identify the fossil pollen contained within the sediments.

"The presence of mammoths, giant bison, and massive land tortoises indicates a very different landscape for south Georgia as recently as 10,000-20,000 years ago," he said. "When we look at the animals, plants, and sediments, it appears that south Georgia would have looked more like the African Serengeti with wide shallow sandy rivers."

Bahn, who is from Jacksonville, Ga., is pursuing a master's degree in biology at GC&SU. He received a bachelor's degree in political science in 2002 from GC&SU.

Mead joined the GC&SU faculty in 1999 and teaches courses in geology, biology, and paleoecology. His doctoral degree in geosciences is from the University of Nebraska in Lincoln and his master's degree in biology is from GC&SU. He received his bachelor's degree in wildlife biology from the University of Georgia.

Mead is a member of Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society, Georgia Academy of Science, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Geological Society of America and Nebraska Academy of Sciences. He has published a number of articles on vertebrate paleontology in professional journals and has presented research papers at professional meetings throughout the U.S. He has been an invited lecturer at workshops, seminars, and museums, and in elementary and high school classrooms in the community, and as guest speaker at a number of organizations.

He received a GC&SU Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003 and was a Phi Kappa Phi Honor Professor for 2002. He received a VP Division Significant Contribution Award in 1998 from the University of Nebraska State Museum.

Established in 1888, The Geological Society of America provides access to elements that are essential to the professional growth of earth scientists at all levels of expertise and from all sectors: academic, government, business, and industry. The Geological Society's growing membership unites thousands of earth scientists from every corner of the globe in a common purpose to study the mysteries of our planet and share scientific findings.

The meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Geological Society of America is hosted by geoscientists from the University of Southern Mississippi and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration National Coastal Data Development Center, in collaboration with other federal agencies at the Stennis Space Center. Approximately 450 geoscientists are expected to attend.

Georgia College & State University, located in Milledgeville, Ga., is Georgia's public liberal arts university.


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