Last things sos

Milwaukee Film Milwaukee, WI


Victoria McCoy

Assistant Professor of Paleontology, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Last Things— Minerals write the fossil record

Much of what we know about evolution and extinction is recorded by minerals—specifically, the minerals that replace the original organic material of plants and animals and turn them into fossils. Paleontologist Victoria McCoy (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) will explain the process of fossilization and explore how the selective nature of this process influences the story the fossil record tells us about the history of life on Earth.

This event is part of our 2024 National Evening of Science on Screen.

Milwaukee Film Milwaukee, WI

Film Synopsis

Evolution and extinction from the point of view of rocks.

    Last Things looks at evolution and extinction from the perspective of the rocks and minerals that came before humanity and will outlast us. With scientists and thinkers like Lynn Margulis and Marcia Bjørnerud as guides and quoting from the proto-Sci-fi texts of J.H. Rosny, Deborah Stratman offers a stunning array of images, from microscopic forms to vast landscapes, and seeks a picture of evolution without humans at the center.

    Credit: Pythagoras

    About the Speaker

    Victoria (Tory) McCoy is an Assistant Professor of Paleontology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a Research Associate at the Milwaukee Public Museum. Her research focuses on the processes of fossilization and interpreting exceptionally preserved fossils – fossils that include soft tissue details rather than just bones or shells – to better understand the ecology of extinct plants and animals. The fossil site she most commonly studies is the ~308-million-year-old Mazon Creek fossil site, located just outside of Chicago, which contains a diverse assemblage of unusual and very well-preserved plants and animals.