Brooklyn College anthropology professor participates in groundbreaking discovery

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BROOKLYN -

A Brooklyn professor was a key collaborator in a groundbreaking discovery.

Stephen Chester, an assistant professor of anthropology and paleontologist at Brooklyn College, was one of a team that's shedding light on what happened after the asteroid impact that wiped out dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

“An asteroid smashed into the earth about 66 million years ago, it wiped out all of the dinosaurs, but this was a really important moment for mammals. We discovered really exceptional preservation of the first million years following this extinction event, so these are some of the nicest preserved mammal fossils that we have ever discovered,” says Chester. “We also have really amazing fossils of crocodiles and turtles and plants.”

Chester says he's been studying this time period for about a decade now.

He's mostly studied fragmentary fossils he found in Montana, but when a friend he's been collaborating with started a new job in Colorado, he found skulls for the first time.

"We've been trying to understand this time period, what's going on in these terrestrial ecosystems, the environments on land for a very long time, so this new discovery allows us to see this first million years after dinosaur extinction at a really high resolution,” says Chester. 

As for his students in Brooklyn, they're not only impressed with their professor's revolutionary findings, but they're also reaping the benefits.

“This is one of the largest mammals that we discovered from Colorado about 66 million years ago and this is actually a model that we printed out on a 3D printer here in our lab in Brooklyn College,” says Chester. “We also have 3D digital models, students can actually look at them on iPads in the classroom, turn them around, zoom in and out on different features and learn the anatomy."

Beyond bringing his findings into the classroom, it seems Chester is also inspiring future paleontologists and groundbreaking research.

Chester tells News 12 there are other big discoveries coming in the near future, and that he's currently studying the oldest primate relatives in the world.

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