Public Talk to Discuss History of Animals

Speaker Thure Cerling studies the dietary changes of different mammalian lineages extending over millions of years; lecture at UC Riverside takes place on Jan. 22

Thure Cerling is a distinguished professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah. Photo credit: Cerling Lab, University of Utah.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Thure Cerling, a pioneer in using isotope records of bones and teeth and a leading expert in the evolution of modern landscapes, including modern mammals and their associated grassland ecologies, will give the University of California, Riverside’s first science lecture of 2014 on Wednesday, Jan. 22.

Titled “HAIR: The History of Animals Using Isotope Records,” the hour-long public lecture will begin at 5:30 p.m. in Conference Rooms D and E, UCR Extension Center (UNEX), 1200 University Ave., Riverside. The lecture is hosted by the university’s College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences and the new Environmental Dynamics and GeoEcology (EDGE) Institute.

Admission and parking at UNEX are free of charge for lecture attendees.

Cerling, a distinguished professor of geology and geophysics at the University of Utah, studies Earth surface geochemistry processes and the geological record of ecological change. His research includes the isotope physiology and diets of modern mammals as well as the history of diets of different mammalian lineages extending over millions of years.  Along with a colleague, he showed that the composition of human hair reflects the region where a person lives.

“Hair records the history of diet, geography, and travel in animals, including humans,” he said.  “In this talk I will explore some of the applications of natural variations in the stable isotopes of hair and show how it can be used in wildlife ecology and forensics.  An advantage of using hair is that it is a passive recorder, and life history is preserved without active observation of activities.”

For more questions about the talk, please call (951) 827-3182 or email


Global climate and environmental change, and the associated degradation of ecosystems, together form the biggest issue facing society today. UCR’s EDGE Institute aims to examine life in this changing environment, focusing on carbon (molecules to organisms), nutrients, and water at various temporal and spatial scales. It brings together UCR scientists from the biological, chemical, and physical sciences to examine particular questions or issues.

Directing the institute will be the holder of the Wilbur W. Mayhew Chair, recently endowed by anonymous donors who are passionate about the ecology of the southwest. Their $1.5 million gift honors Mayhew, a pioneering ecologist, UCR faculty member and co-founder of the UC Natural Reserves System.  His work resulted in the preservation of key natural habitats throughout California for future generations of scientists and students. These habitats are invaluable today as laboratories of the natural world.

Media Contact

Tel: (951) 827-6050
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Additional Contacts

Jennifer Reising
Tel: (951) 827-3182

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