|Scott D. Sampson|
|Born||Vancouver, BC, Canada|
|Fields||Paleontology, Science Communication|
|Institutions||Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Science World British Columbia|
|Alma mater||University of Toronto, University of British Columbia|
Scott Donald Sampson (born April 22, 1961) is a Canadian paleontologist and science communicator. Dr. Sampson is currently the President and CEO of Science World in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. He was previously Vice President of Research & Collections and Chief Curator at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science,. Sampson is notable for his work on the carnivorous theropod dinosaurs Majungasaurus and Masiakasaurus and his extensive research into the Late Cretaceous Period, particularly in Madagascar.
Born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Sampson studied for a Ph.D. in Zoology from the University of Toronto. For his doctorate he produced a thesis on two newly found species of ceratopsids, dated to the Late Cretaceous period in Montana and the growth and function of ceratopsid horns and frills. Sampson graduated from the University of Toronto in 1993 and worked for a year at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. Then he worked for five years as an assistant professor of anatomy at the New York College of Osteopathic Medicine on Long Island. In 1999 he accepted positions as assistant professor in the Department of Geology and Geophysics and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Utah Museum of Natural History (nowadays called the Natural History Museum of Utah and relocated in the new Rio Tinto Center as of 2011). Sampson resided in California at this time, but continued his research with the Utah museum as a research curator. In February 2013, Sampson took a position as Vice President of Research and Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Sampson is featured as "Dr. Scott the paleontologist" on the PBS television series, Dinosaur Train. In this television series he mentions he gave Masiakasaurus its name and also mentions on a separate episode of The Dinosaur Train that he participated in naming Kosmoceratops. In 2003 he hosted Dinosaur Planet, a series of four animated nature documentaries which aired on the Discovery Channel. The series was narrated by Christian Slater. His latest book, Dinosaur Odyssey: Fossil Threads in the Web of Life was published by University of California Press in 2009. The book, aimed at the general public reconstructs the odyssey of the dinosaurs from their origins on the supercontinent of Pangaea, and explores the way in which dinosaurs ecologically interacted in an expansive web of relationships with other organisms and their natural environment, underscoring "paradigm shifts", which conceptualize the nature of the dinosaurian world.
Aside from his research conducted in museums, Sampson has undertaken paleontological fieldwork in countries such as Zimbabwe, South Africa and Madagascar as well as the United States and Canada. His specialist fields of research include phylogenetics, functional morphology, and evolution of Late Cretaceous dinosaurs. Sampson is particularly notable for his work on the carnivorous theropod dinosaur Majungasaurus and his studies into the paleobiogeography of Gondwana. In 1995 he made a phylogenetic analysis of the Centrosaurinae and Ceratopsidae in the state of Montana and produced two papers on these horned dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous. Sampson also published a paper documenting the discovery of the first Tyrannosaurus specimen found in Utah, as well as the first evidence of coexistence between Tyrannosaurus and sauropods.
In 1998 he conducted thorough paleontological studies into the Cretaceous period in Madagascar and published several papers on it. These include Predatory dinosaur remains from Madagascar: Implications for the Cretaceous biogeography of Gondwana. and The theropodan ancestry of birds: New evidence from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar, both published in 1998. In 2001 he returned to Madagascar and conducted some important research into the evolution of Gondwanan theropods, publishing a paper on it, entitled A bizarre predatory dinosaur from Madagascar: implications for the evolution of Gondwanan theropods. In 2007 he published Dental morphology and variation in Majungasaurus crenatissimus (Theropoda: Abelisauridae) from the Late Cretaceous of Madagascar.
Sampson stresses the importance of evolution in understanding the dynamics of ecology in everyday life and that is underplayed in modern society:
"The web of life is composed of two distinctly different kinds of threads‹those that link organisms at any given moment in time through the flow of energy (ecology), and those that link all lifeforms through deep time via genetic information and shared common ancestry (evolution). Seen from this dual and complementary perspective, the two themes are inseparable. Without evolution, our vision is severely limited to the present day and we cannot begin to fathom the blossoming of life's diversity from single-celled forebears. Without ecology, the intricate interconnections we share with the current panoply of lifeforms cannot truly be envisioned. United in a single theme, evolution and ecology provide a powerful lens through which to view life's web, forming the foundation of an integrated and underutilized perspective on nature. In short, we need dramatic increases in levels of both ecological literacy, or "ecoliteracy," and evolutionary literacy, or "evoliteracy," with this dynamic pair of concepts reinforcing each other."
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