Profile: Andrew Farke
Curator of Paleontology
Dr. Farke received a B.Sc. in Geology from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in 2003, and completed his Ph.D. in Anatomical Sciences at Stony Brook University in 2008. He joined the staff at the Alf Museum in June 2008, as Augustyn Family Curator of Paleontology.
Dr. Farke’s research interests primarily focus on the evolution and functional morphology of the ceratopsians, or horned dinosaurs. As such, he has used a variety of techniques and taxa in pursuit of these goals. Interests in this realm include paleopathology, finite element analysis and other biomechanical methods, morphometric and statistical techniques, general descriptive morphology and phylogenetic analysis. In order to better understand aspects of ceratopsian cranial anatomy, much of Dr. Farke’s dissertation research focused on the evolution and function of the frontal sinuses within the skulls of horned mammals. Presently, he is co-PI on an NSF-sponsored grant with Scott Sampson, Cathy Forster, and Mark Loewen, which focuses on documenting the ceratopsid evolutionary radiation.
Beyond ceratopsians, Dr. Farke is interested in Late Cretaceous ecosystems in North America and Gondwana. After several seasons of participation in the Mahajanga Basin Project of northwestern Madagascar, he initiated the Ambilobe Basin Project, which aims to recover vertebrate remains from the Late Cretaceous of northernmost Madagascar. He has also conducted fieldwork in the Almond Formation of Wyoming (in collaboration with University of Utah), the Fox Hills Formation of South Dakota, and the Kaiparowits Formation of southern Utah, among other areas in the western United States.
NoteStreams By Andrew Farke
Pretty much every person who ever read a dinosaur book or went to a natural history museum learned that Brontosaurus is just an outdated name for a big long-necked dinosaur that should be called Apatosaurus. Two different names were applied to the same type of animal, but Apatosaurus wins out because it was named first. But…it’s just not that simple. It’s never that simple! In a move that is sure to generate considerable discussion by scientists and non-scientists alike, Brontosaurus is back.
Several colleagues and I named a really cute little dinosaur–Aquilops americanus. At around 106 million years old, Aquilops turns out to be the oldest “horned” dinosaur (the lineage including Triceratops) named from North America, besting the previous record by nearly 20 million years. Even more interesting is the fact that Aquilops is not at all closely related to later horned dinosaurs from North America, but is mostly closely related to forms that lived in Asia around the same time. This is in line with a growing body of evidence showing an exchange of animals between the two continents at that time.