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SciShow Talk Show: where Hank talks to interesting people about interesting things! In this episode Hank and Collections Manager Kallie Moore talk ancient life, careers in science, and dragons.

Check out the collection Kallie Moore manages at:


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Hey, it's SciShow Talk Show.  It's that day on SciShow where we talk to interesting people about interesting things.  Today, we have Kallie Moore, the Collections Manager at the University of Montana Paleontology Center.  You manage fossils.

Kallie: I do.  

Hank: That's the job.

Kallie: That's my job, yeah.  The technical term is 'Collections Manager', but I like to call myself a librarian for fossils.  

Hank: So you're a fossil librarian.

Kallie: Yeah, fossil librarian.  

Hank: You got a big room full of--

Kallie: Huge room.

Hank: Why haven't I not--Why have I not been there?

Kallie: I don't know!  'Cause I see that you guys do off-site talks all the time, so you guys are going to have to come visit me.  

Hank: Totally.  That's exciting.  

Kallie: We've got sweet backdrops.

Hank: How big is your room?

Kallie: I think we're at like, 1200 square feet, and we have this sweet space-saver compactor system so we have--

Hank: Yeah, yeah, yeah, you have like the thing, you know, that goes like this?  

Kallie: No, no, it's electronic, we just push a button, we're fancy.  Well, our rocks weigh a lot, and so to have it geared with one of the little crank handles, you'd have to like, spin it really fast and it wouldn't move, so--

Hank: So how many specimens do you have?

Kallie: So we don't know yet.  

Hank: I mean, that's one of your jobs, I feel like.

Kallie: One of my jobs is to figure out how many specimens we have, yes, but I estimate about 40,000 specimens probably.

Hank: Okay.

Kallie: And we have about 30,000 on the database right now, and I know there's quite a few that have never been entered into the database, so.

Hank: Don't you--do you want us to help get you some volunteers to help with that?

Kallie: Everybody, come volunteer for me, wherever you are.  Come curate some fossils.

Hank: There's viewers in Missoula.

Kallie: I know, I know, I hope they do!

Hank: I should come.  I would love to do that.  That sounds like a real nice kind of cathartic task.

Kallie: It is.  It's a little tedious, you get to sit down, I assign you a drawer and pull it open and you take a little fossil out.

Hank: Type in numbers, yep, and then take a picture of it, but it's easy with that, we just use an iPad to take pictures and then you upload everything and good to go. So you work at the University.

Kallie: Yeah.

Hank: And how did you get that cool job?

Kallie: It was pretty awesome, actually, I was in my undergraduate, back at Emporia State University in Kansas and I was in a class called Geowriting and Geoliterature, so it's just kind of a class to help you write more scientifically, especially within the geosciences, and half of the class was to do mock application processes, so just find a job you're remotely interested in and let's build a resume and cover letter, that sort of thing.  So, my instructor hands out Earth magazines and I get a relatively recent one and I flip to the back, and I'm looking through there, and I find the job announcement for--

Hank: So you applied for this job as an assignment?

Kallie: And so I raise my hand, I'm like, I want that job.  I want this job.  Like, I like, want it, and he was like, well, when is the application due?  And I think this is September of 2007 or something and it was due October of 2007 and he was like, well, are you ready to eat, sleep, and breathe, you know, your resume, and I was like, yep, let's do this, and so got this huge packet of look how awesome I am and put it in the mail and I didn't hear anything back for I think two months or more, so I was like, oh, I'm not gonna get it, you know, and then I got a phone interview, radio silence, and then I got a call, I think like two weeks before my last finals of my undergraduate career and it was like, oh, can you come up, oh yeah, and the only week that we have free to come up for a formal interview is your finals week.  Yay!  So I smash all my finals into two days, Thursday and Friday of my finals week, and I come out here for Monday to Wednesday and have my interview, it was a whirlwind, I talked to everybody on campus, it felt like, and then I'm sitting at a computer at the library finishing up my senior thesis and I get the official phone call, and they're like, oh, by the way, we need you here in like, four weeks before the spring semester starts, so you get to move to Montana in January.

Hank: Yeah, I mean, but you got a job right outta--

Kallie: I did!  I know!  And then the great recession hit, and I had a job, and it was amazing, and so--

Hank: Right, 2007.

Kallie: Yeah, yeah, so it was here, I got here, actually, this Saturday is my eight year anniversary in Missoula. 

Hank: Well, congratulations.

Kallie: Yay!  

Hank: What did you bring us?

Kallie: I brought some fossils today, and I guess you're gonna try to ID them, and then put them in order.

Hank: I dunno if I'm gonna ID them.  

Kallie: Okay, I can help you through.

Hank: I will--I do wanna try and put them in age order.

Kallie: Order, yes, we'll go oldest to youngest.

Hank: I feel like I have some--okay.  I mean, this is very cool.

Kallie: Yeah, yeah.  

Hank: And I am sure that it is by far the oldest thing.

Kallie: It is, you are correct.

Hank: This looks like a fossilized bacterial mat, am I right?

Kallie: Yep, so that's a stromatolite, yeah, that's one of my favorite specimens in the entire collection.  It is actually the only one that's not from Montana, because it is so pretty, I wanted to bring one.  So it's called a stromatolite banded iron formation, it's from Minnesota, and do you have any guesses of how old it is?

Hank: Oh gosh.  No.  

Kallie: It's anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 billion years old, so with a b, that's--

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: That's 2,000 million years old, yeah!

Hank: I was right that that's the oldest thing.  I'm gonna go ahead and say that this is the second oldest thing, just because it's a fish.

Kallie: It is a fish.  

Hank: And fish are older than this looks like a land animal, and this looks like a land animal.

Kallie: Very good!

Hank: So.

Kallie: Detective skills.  Yeah, so this guy is a coelacanth, which is--

Hank: I thought that it migh--I was just--I was gonna say--

Kallie: Yes!  You should have said it!

Hank: I should have just said it, I was embarrassed to say it.  

Kallie: No, it is, and this is from the Bearpaw Shale from Central Montana, it's about 318 million years old, and there's not a whole lot of fossils of coelacanths out there, and this locality in particular has, I dunno, like ten different species of coelacanths, yeah. So it's a really neat locality, and the preservation on these specimens is just amazing.  

Hank: I mean, it's ma--I mean, it looks like the coelacanths that we still have, with just like, tiny--

Kallie: Yeah, only much smaller, yeah, exactly.  So our largest coelacanth from this time is only about maybe a foot and a half long, so back in these days, they were much smaller, and they lived more in shallow water.

Hank: Right.

Kallie: Instead of like, the deeper water where they live today, so.  

Hank: Interesting.  I'm gonna go with this as our next oldest thing, 'cause I don't know what it is.  

Kallie: It's wrong.  

Hank: I was wrong.

Kallie: It's not the next oldest one, so that is.

Hank: That, this, so this ant--this piece of some kind of antler.

Kallie: Close.  

Hank: It's not an antler?

Kallie: No, it's actually a horn core, it's a prong core, a horn core.

Hank: Ohh, okay.  

Kallie: So this little guy is from the Miocene here in Montana.  I brought a little cheat sheet 'cause I can't remember everything, I try.

Hank: Okay, so this is the thing that the horn--so horns are keratinous--

Kallie: Yeah.

Hank: They grow on top of--

Kallie: And prong horns are weird all across the board.

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: And--

Hank: This is little, too.  

Kallie: It's a little guy, yeah.

Hank: Did prong horns use to be smaller or was this a baby?

Kallie: Yes, they were smaller back--so this guy is from the Miocene, so eh, about 25 mil, give or take a few mil.

Hank: Okay, okay.  I was gonna guess that this was actually a dinosaur bone.

Kallie: No, it's not a dinosaur bone, that's--

Hank: Because it's big and I have no idea, I have no idea what--

Kallie: Okay, what is a big megafauna mammal?

Hank: Oh, is it a mastodon?  

Kallie: It's a mammoth.  And that is a mammoth toe bone, just one single metacarpal.

Hank: OH MY GOD, I never would have got there.   

Kallie: Yeah, it's a--

Hank: I was like, is it, like, it's got sort of a ball and socket looking thing on this it's got so many--'cause of course, feet have so many different, like, they touch so many different bones.

Kallie: Exactly, yeah.

Hank: And I was like, where would, in your body--

Kallie: So, that is the--

Hank: --something this big touch so many things?

Kallie: --metacarpal five, left metacarpal, fifth left metacarpal.

Hank: So, tell me which--is there like an--is this the thing that they'd have the nail on it?  

Kallie: Um, no, it would be a little bit farther back.

Hank: In the--okay, so in the middle.

Kallie: So it would be like, right here  

Hank: Okay, got it. 

Kallie: Um, yeah.  

Hank: So it's like that's the pinky toe of a mammoth?

Kallie: Mmhmm.

Hank: One of the pinky toe bones of a mammoth.

Kallie: One of the pinky toe bones of a mammoth.

Hank: Okay, alright.

Kallie: Yeah, this is a relatively large individual, obviously.

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: Yeah, and this one's also from Montana, so these three back here are all from Montana.

Hank: All Montana fossils.

Kallie: Yeah.

Hank: Okay.  Neat.

Kallie: Yay!

Hank: That's so cool.

Kallie: You did so good.

Hank: I love--I wanna see these baby prong horns.  Cute.

Kallie: I know, and this is actually--we don't have a whole lot of antler or horn core in the collection, and so this is one of our rare specimens, and I actually hope to 3D scan this and 3D print it out.  We're gonna try to make some kind of a traveling trunk with a bunch of fossils from Montana in it that can go out to Missoula county schools and things like that, and I think this one might be one, because kids can identify with the prong horn and it's been around for a really long time. It's actually kind of neat, it's one of the very few holdovers from the ice age extinction event, so musk ox in Alaska and our prong horns are pretty much the only megafauna that made it through.  

Hank: Right, they--I hear this thing about prong horns that they are faster than any carnivore that could possibly eat them.

Kallie: Yeah, because they evolved back in the day of the American cheetah and American lions and all sorts of things that could go way faster than any of our modern predators.

Hank: Right.

Kallie: They're a lot of fun.  They can't jump, which you always think, like, deer bounding over fences and stuff.

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: These guys were built for speed, not height, and so it really messes them up in Eastern Montana when ranchers put all the fencing in, they can't go over them, so some--

Hank: They have the word prong, but I guess it's the fork, it's not the boing, what sounds like--sounds like it could jump real good.

Kallie: Yeah.  They're fun to race though.

Hank: They go underneath though, right?

Kallie: Sometimes--they do, so uh, nice ranchers, especially when they're just some like, um, bordering their land and they're not using it for grazing, they'll take the last two strings of barb wire off, so the prong horns can get underneath, but it still keeps out the larger things usually.

Hank: Right.  

Kallie: They will race you in your vehicle out there, and you're on these two-lane tire tracks going out to a fossil bed or something and you'll have a herd come by and I swear, one of them will look at you and be like, let's do this.

Hank: It's like a dolphin, (?-10:20)

Kallie: Yeah, exactly.  You go and you speed up and they speed up and then all of a sudden, it's like they drop down and just put it into a lower gear and they just peel out and go right in front of your vehicle, like, haha, I won, and they're a lot of fun.

Hank: Wow, yeah.  Well, I feel like I did pretty good.  I had no idea that that was a mammoth toe bone.  That was not--

Kallie: It's pretty cool.

Hank: I wasn't gonna get there.  But that's so amazing, we have coelocanth fossils in Montana.

Kallie: I know, who would have thunk it?

Hank: I did not know that.

Kallie: And shrimp and lobsters and all sorts of other marine--

Hank: Man, I gotta come by your office.  

Kallie: Oh man, you guys could spend all day there, 'cause we have 192 cases and I believe 150 of them are full.

Hank: So what's your day to day life?  What do you do in there?

Kallie: I have so many jobs.  I'm officially a collections manager, but I'm also in charge of all of our education outreach.  I supervise all the volunteers.  So most of the time, let's see, right now, what am I working on?  I'm trying to get all our type publications figured out, so I've got a really good list of type publications.  So, a type publication is when a researcher goes out and they collect something and then they write a paper on it, and it's figured in the publication, so it becomes a type, and so when I got here, we only had about 30 known type papers, and I've almost increased that to about 300 type papers.  I'm a Google Scholar master.  So, what I'm doing now is going back through all of those and updating things in the database, pooling the specimens from the regular collection and putting them in the type collection, so they're separated out.  Another big project that we're working on right now that I usually use a lot of--usually need and use a lot of volunteer help is our Cambrian collection. It's very historic for the university. It's um, was all collected between 1930 and 1940. And somehow, in the past eighty sum years nobody's inventoried any of the material. None of it. It's just been sitting, languishing away -

Hank: You don't know what it is.

Kallie: And I mean it's, I mean it's Cambrian so it's like Trilobite or Inarticulate Brachiopod like that's that's all you get is - So it's kind of easy in that sense.

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: But it's stuff from pretty much so the Rocky Mountains from Missoula all the way to Banff National Park. Um, and some of the first people to go out and do stratigraphy in some of these mountainous areas was this guy named Charles Deiss. Uh, who did most of the collecting of all these fossils. And it's amazing because I have copies of his field notes and the university really didn't start really using vehicles, until, you know, the late thirties - mid forties. And so, for a long time they were taking, like, wagons and pack mules and all this stuff out into these incredibly remote areas to do geology which, kids don't know how easy they have it now, I guess. You could just drive up to your outcrop versus dealing with the mule teams, sending somebody back for supplies and God forbid somebody gets sick, you know.

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: So, it's really interesting to read about this but, you know, I have - I expect this collection to be maybe five thousand specimens strong? So it's gonna take us a few years to get through all of the material. So we've got it all organized and we're going through and organizing it by morphology so all the trilobites that look like this - together and all the trilobites that look like that.

Hank: I mean, I mean there's so many trilobites for so long - is there any attempt to like create a classification, and species...type them?

Kallie: Oh yeah.

Hank: It seems...

Kallie: It's there. It's all there and what we normally use is a lot of that researcher Charles Deiss. He wrote a ton of papers and he did a lot of identifications already for us. So, a lot of times it's either hopefully there's either a little scrap of paper that was written in quill and ink. Yeah. With the genus named. And sometimes not. But if you've got one identified--   

Hank: And you trust Charles?

Kallie: I do. I trust that guy. He knew his stuff, that's for sure. So, we just kinda compare and contrast so if there's ever a chance, or I don't think it's this one or it could be this one then we go even farther back into the literature and try to find that, the first publication that described that trilobite.  And when you're working in the 1930s, you know your papers are coming out in the late 1800s, so it' can be a challenge to get some of them and um, you hope that all of this taxonomic information is still the same because stuff has changed a lot. 

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: Luckily there's massive databases online that you just type in a name and it tells you everything you need to know. So, um...

Hank: Interesting.

Kallie: But that's another big project, um, I'm working on that traveling trunk, trying to find funding, trying to find collaborators, trying to pick out specimens, um, getting the specimens scanned. Um, on campus we've got this amazing 3D scanner. So yeah, it's just a lot, a lot of things it's never done, my job will never be done. 

Hank: It's great. What is, uh, what do you find exciting after eight years?

Kallie: It's usually when I find a specimen that I swear I have never seen before.

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: It's what? No! And it's usually on the third tier so we have, um, these big cases stacked three high and on a low stool I can get into the second tier. But I have to get this giant ladder out to get to the third tier, so I hardly ever go up there. And it never fails every time I get up there I'm like 'oh it's new! Oh that's so neat, I didn't even know.' Like this specimen was on the third tier and I just happened to run across it one day looking for something else. Um, so that's pretty amazing when there's still something that I haven't seen in the collection after eight years. Um, probably the most rewarding is when you get a specimen like this and all it has in it is it's from a certain county of Minnesota. You get a specimen like this and all it has in it is it's from a certain county of Minnesota.  You're like, oh...okay.  Um, and then you have to start doing all this research and you find pictures of specimens that look like this and you're like oh, okay, oh, oh, this is from this certain formation, an abandoned iron formation in Minnesota, and it gives you all this information.  And when you started you had one tiny little sentence.  Like, go to the rock and turn left, you know, so when, when you're, when you're left with not a lot of information about where the specimen was found it is very rewarding to put all the pieces back together and make this full picture of where it was from.  'Cuz if you can't tell a researcher where the specimen is from, it's no good for research.

Hank: Do you do any fieldwork?

Kallie: I used to, I used to go out to eastern Montana, um, every summer and do surface collecting.  We--we're not like university or Montana State who goes out and does the big--

Hank: Big digs.

Kallie: The big digs and stuff like that.  We're--we're much more low-key, uh, we also don't have the space, like they have to build extra annexes and stuff to house all that dinosaur material, and those are huge.  Um, this is kind of the average size of the stuff that's in our collection so it's kind of nice, like, um, I have a drawer with, um, late Cretaceous mammal teeth and there's probably two hundred in one drawer.  And it's just like, yes.  Um, so recently, I usually just kinda go out when people that I know, other researchers, are at their field sites.  So, um, we're working with, uh, the University of Illinois--oh, I hope that's right... sorry Sam if that's not right. But he's an entomologist. He's a modern entomologist, but he's gotten into fossil, um, and he's a cricket/grasshopper family, I don't remember what family that is. Uh, but there's a locality in southwestern Montana that has wonderful bugs. Just great bug fossils.  And so, they came out last summer, and I'm going to go out with them this summer, um, to collect some bug fossils.

Hank:  How much incoming stuff do you have?

Kallie:  You know, we don't get a whole lot of accessions anymore.  We get some people, um, will come in National Fossil Day and bring a little bag of their treasures and be like, here, I want the museum to have it.

Hank: Right.  Yeah.

Kallie:  Um, but for the most part it really comes from researchers.  I have another researcher in Nebraska who got his master's at the University of Montana and the university he's at now does not have a collection.  So he's like, where am I going to put all my fossils?  I wonder if the University of Montana wants them.  And so he contacts me and I'm like sure, we've got lots of space.  And also, there-- there are lots of rodent bits and they're small, I know we have room for it.  Um, so I think we're at like...jeez, over five hundred specimens?  He's still researching, they're still in Nebraska, but they're all being curated in our collection.

Hank: Right.

Kallie:  So, in the next five years or so, we'll get those.  Um, with the bug researcher, we'll split the collection.  So he'll keep some, and we'll have some.  That's mainly how we get it.  Also graduate students when they go out to do research, a lot-if they do a paleo graduate, um, work, we usually keep all of the material in house.  If it's geo-geological or petrographic or something like that,  we usually just...ahh, have your advisor hold onto it!  So.

Hank:  Are these used in research like...uh, is your collection still being used in research?

Kallie:  Heavily, yeah.  We...that's really what we try the hardest with, is to get our, digitized, so getting them online, with all the correct information in a little picture and then just letting people know, like, hey, our collection is online! You should look at it and see if there's anything that relates to your research.  Um, I'm assuming we have-I haven't looked at our loans recently, but I bet we have about fifteen loans out right now all over the world.  Probably the farthest one is New Zealand, right now.  We've got a few specimens there in New Zealand. Most of the time it's around the continental United States. My supervisor, George Stanley, he's a late Triassic scleractinian coral expert.

Hank: Of course.

Kallie: Yes. And there's a lot of those in Europe, and, so, we actually have quite a bit of our material in Poland and other places around Europe, so, we try to do a lot of research. Or get, at least, our specimens out, so people can research them.

Hank: Mhm.

Kallie: Yeah.

Hank: Awesome. Well, we've got a living animal.

Kallie: Yes.

Hank: I know that you're not super familiar with this idea.

Kallie: No.

Hank: It's got-it's got flesh all over over its bones.

Kallie: Wow. At least it's alive so it doesn't stink.

Hank: It's not made of rock.

Kallie: Yeah. That's why I went into paleo, is, like, none of this stinks.

Hank: So it's never--

Kallie: I don't have to get through the goo and the flesh and the this and the that.

Hank: Scent glands and--

Kallie: It's just there.

Hank: Yeah.

Kallie: It's just--

Hank: That's good.

Kallie: It's easy.

Hank: Well, let's meet-let's meet an actual living animal.

Kallie: Sweet.

Hank: Hello!

Jessi: Hi!

Hank: What's this?

Jessi: This is Lokita, she's a dragon. She's a Chinese water dragon.

Hank: Okay.

Jessi: Yeah. But she's in a family where a lot of them are actually called dragons.

Hank: Okay.

Jessi: Like the bearded dragon and water dragon. Yeah.

Hank: I mean, I f-I feel it.

Jessi: Yeah.

Hank: It's got the nice ridge.

Jessi: Yeah.

Hank: That feels very dragon-like.

Jessi: Yeah.

Hank: Different sized scales.

Jessi: Look at the face, though. I mean, she has, like, this, like, spike back here, a couple spikes on her jaw, and then she's got that ear, and, uh, her eyes are just pretty amazing.

Hank: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kallie: I love the purple.

Jessi: Yeah! So, she's a female, and so females Chinese water dragons have this, like, pink hue, pink or purple hue under there. And the males are gonna be even brighter and flashier colors.

Kallie: Of course.

Jessi: So their heads are gonna be much bigger, and they're gonna be about two or three times her size. But they get, like, orange and blue under there, and they can strut their stuff.

Kallie: Very pretty.

Jessi: Yeah. She's very pretty on her own.

Hank: Do you know anything about the lineage of these?

Kallie: A little bit. I had to do some research on them, so I could find something comparable. But they're kinda in the umbrella of iguanas.

Jessi: Yeah.

Kallie: Yeah, but they're not quite iguanas in they're more closely related to chameleons, right? Because of their teeth.

Jessie: Their teeth. Yeah, their teeth are on the outside. It's hard to see because their scales cover it up. But their teeth are on the outside of their jaw instead of on the inside of their jaw, and so they have just a little bit different bite than an iguana.

Kallie: Yeah.

Jessi: So did you bring?

Kallie: I did.

Jessi: Did you bring something that is maybe her ancestor from way back when?

Hank: They're all related.

Kallie: I brought this tiny little jaw, and It is an iguana jaw from Madison County, Montana. It's about 20 to 23 million years old.

Hank: I didn't know we had iguanas in America.

Kallie: Yeah, totally.

Hank: Do we now?

Kallie: Yeah, we still have um. Do we have iguanas still?

Hank: In the Americas.

Jessi: They're down in South America, but I don't know if they're in North America.

Kallie: Hm.

Jessi: Are there some maybe. I mean, I'm sure there are some loose in Florida.

Kallie: Oh, yeah yeah yeah.

Hank: Yeah yeah.

Jessi: But I don't any native North American species. So that would go, that's.

Kallie: Yeah.

Hank: Yeah.

Jessi: Do you know if it's bottom or top?

Kallie: No, I don't know. So um, these were all collected by mammal researchers. So that's kinda the problem I had with our collection is that during the time when all this material was collected, it was all mammal researchers. They were going out to find the little rodent jaws and everything.

Jessi: Yeah.

Kallie: But, rodent jaws are tiny, just like lizard jaws.

Jessi: Yeah.

Kallie: So they collected a lot of this lizard material, but they just labeled lizard. That's all I got. And this one was luckily labeled iguanan, so it's some type of iguana.

Jessi: Okay.

Kallie: Um, and I tried really hard, and I looked, compared, this guy's teeth to all of the little lizard jaws that we have. And they get way smaller.

Jessi: Yeah.

Kallie: And, nope, we didn't have any of that type.

Jessi: Of the. Okay.

Kallie: Yup. But this one is close, to the iguana teeth.

Jessi: Yeah, well the iguanas, I mean.

Hank: How old?

Kallie: Twenty to twenty-three million years old. Yeah. From, I'm pretty sure, Madison.

Jessi: Fossils are so cool!

Hank: That is... it is hard to imagine seeing this on the ground and being like: 'that's not a rock'. 

Jessi: And that's not a rodent.

Kallie: Well, these aren't really collected like you just go out and be like 'oh, here's this fossil.' This is usually collected where you take bags and bags of sediment to the lab, and then you screen 'em out and then you're left with the bottom screen and you sit there and go: 'Rock. Tooth. Rock. Tooth.' under a microscope, usually. This would have been a little easier to see but some of the other lizard jaws that we have are about a millimeter and it is a fragment, you know.

Hank: Right.

Kallie: The teeth are like half a millimeter on these tiny little jaws.

Jessi: Wow.

Kallie: So that would have definitely been at the very bottom of the screen. I do not... I do not envy the poor, poor grad student and/or undergrad that had to sit there and sort out all that material but...

Jessi: I'm just imagining, you know, 25 million years ago 'lizard', an iguanid running around and eating, using those to eat and do its thing and pass on its genes to current, current animals.

Hank: It looks like a fairly large... fairly large lizard.

Kallie: Yeah.

Jessi: Yeah, that's kinda substantial.

Kallie: Yeah, it would have been a little bigger than her, definitely.

Jessi: Like the size of an iguana, maybe.

Kallie: Like an actual, normal iguanas that we all think about. Good old Galapagos style.

Hank: Yeah, right, right. Just good old pet store style.

Kallie: Yeah, pet store iguanas.

Jessi: What do you think? Lokita is just kinda zoning out right now.

Hank: That's probably the best thing to do.

Jessi: Looking up at the fancy lights over there.

Hank: I love your scales.

Kallie: I know, so pretty.

Jessi: You wanna try to hold her? Do you wanna see... she has these neat legs and those legs are going to help her do a couple of things. She's like: 'oh, oh, I need my branch!'. So these guys, they live up in the trees and they're called water dragons because they like to live over a body of water and so when are basking in the sun, and so when they are basking in the sun and something spooks them, they will run and launch themselves off their branch and just kind of do this belly flop and it's really cool, I, I hope we can get this image if you, if she feels like she's falling through the air she's gonna stick her legs out and try to catch herself, she'll belly flop into the water and then she'll dive down. They can hold their breath for about twenty minutes. 

Kallie: Wow. 

Jessi: They'll dive down, they'll use their tail to, to propel themselves forward as far away from that scary thing as possible and, uh, then tell come up later. But then these feet come in really handy as they're trying to get back up into the trees because there're arboreal up in the trees, um, they, the, huge long toes are easily, grip onto the branch of the tree and get them up there. But they do this really neat thing. These guys are pretty fast, for, for lizards and, um, they live in these watery areas and if they get going fast enough and the water isn't too deep, and short enough, so I'm thinking little streams, or little ponds or swampy areas, they can run on water. 

Hank: Oh. 

Jessi: So, they're like a basilisk.

Kallie: Oh.

Jessi: So they're really cool. 

Hank: Going fast enough.

Jessi: You can do that huh?

Hank: You're pretty heavy to be able to run on water. 

Kallie: Those little toes splay out.

Jessi: Yep, yep! 

Kallie: That water tension. 

Jessi: Those back legs get really far and they look awkward and they do this.

Kallie: So they're pretty good swimmers then?

Jessi: Yeah, really good swimmers, yeah, they'll tuck their legs in and they'll just, you know, do a little crocodile. 

Hank: Oh okay. 

Kallie: That's awesome. 

Jessi: Yeah, yeah. but if something does try and come up behind them she'll, she's really chill, she just a super calm...

Kallie: Look at this giant tail. 

Jessi: That is used as defense.  

Hank: Is that a little bit of a whip?

Jessi: Yeah, she'll whip you, she'll try and get you. It'll leave a nice,a nice welt. Um, because it gets pretty hard at the end there. 

Hank: Yeah. It's, it almost feels like...

Jessi: She's got some good muscle back here. 

Hank: Like, total, almost inorganic back here. 

Jessi: It feels like plastic or a, a twig. 

Hank: Like a twig. 

Jessi: Yeah. Yeah. So she was on, you've met her before, she was on before, do you remember the really cool thing that she has on top of her head?

Kallie: I learned this as I was doing research. 

Jessi: I love it. I love talking about it. 

Hank: And I forgot.

Jessi: You guys might remember this, so let Hank remember because he forgot. So let Hank know if you remember, cause he forgot.

H: Is it like a light sensor?

J: It is!

H: Or like a shade sensor? For like if something's coming over.

J: It is, good job.

H: Ah. see, it was still in there.

J: So it's like, part of the pineal gland and that senses light and dark, and so it's gonna do two things for her.  It's gonna make sure that she's, that she can stay warm enough; it's gonna trigger her instincts and be like "ah! I need to be warmer, let's move into the sun." Um, but it also does, when she takes a nap, yup, she'll close her little eyes, and then, shadow goes by and that's what will wake her up and she'll just dive off her little branch.  And so she has three eyes, she has a third eye on top of her head.

K: That's kinda cool.

J: You know there's, there's some other-there's quite a few reptiles that have that, but hers you can actually

H: You can see it

J: You can see it, right there.

K: Oh yeah, look at that.  It's light a sunlight into the brain.

J: Sunroof! It's like a little...  Are you taking a nap, on this side?

H: Yeah, super chill. Do you wanna hold her?

K: Yeah!

J: Wake you up! Stick you finger between her feet, she'll hold on to you.

K: Now you're awake huh? You moved! Gettin all warm on this not rock.

H: Super soft rock.

J: Ehm, I put a meal worm down to feed her and the meal worm's gone.

H: Uh, oh, uh, oh, we'll get another one, we'll find it. That meal worm, it knows what life is.

J: Now we'll see if shes going to eat, put your foot on there.

H: Don't you always want a meal worm? 

J: She usually does but she could be kinda chilly, it is the middle of January. 

H: Too cold for food.

J: My belly is full too, not my belly, I'm talking for her. She's like nah, nah, I'm just gonna chill. That's alright, that's alright, pretty girl.

K: So soft!

J: Isn't it! And then feel riiight here.

K: That's even softer.

J: It's super soft! It's like when you find the cat and right behind their ear and it's super soft fur right there, and between bunny ears.

H: You don't mind, you don't mind us touching your weird, oohh yeah! I feel, I feel a little bit like that was improper, like we don't know each other that well.

J: She didn't mind! She didn't mind! Look, she's even like yeah that's alright. Now if you touched her spikes she'd get upset.

H: What a weird hip bones, kinda sticking out.

J: Yeah they protrude a bit like that and it always makes me think she's under weight, and you can see her ribs a little bit. But she's not, she's, she's plenty, she's got a little belly there. But eh yeah, its like skin has just been stretched over their skeletal structure there.

K: So she sheds?

J: She does, and her tail is. She sheds in pieces, so she'll shed the top of head and then she'll shed one side of her body. And then it'll be just like her haunches, her thighs and it'll be her tail. And her tail is getting ready to shed right now, so it's a little darker in colour. Lets see if she'll do her thing where she thinks she's falling.

H and K: Ooohh!

J: Isn't that cool!

H: It's super cool.

K: You got her the first time.

J: She's like no.

H: I'm just gonna hold on.

J: I know what you're doing, I know your tricks.

H: That's great, wooooaahh

J: Good girl, what do you think do you see your ancestor right there?

H: Don't eat it, they're all your ancestors really.

K: So sweet, I don't think I've ever had a live animal touch my fossils.

J: Is this inappropriate?

K: No, no.

H: Yeah check that out, put that on iStockphoto.

K: It's no worse than anybody's finger oils.

H: Somebody's gotta want a picture of a Chinese water dragon on a mammoth toe.

K: I can imagine that's a common Google image search.

J: A dragon on a mammoth toe, of course!

H: Put that on your brochure.

J: I'm on a branch, now I'm good. I love how she perches though, she's just so comfortable in the trees that that's how she is.

H: Happy on the hand. Oh, that's a big eyelid you got, the second eyelid there.

J: The nictitating membrane yeah, see if we can. Did she close it a bit there?

H: Oooooo weird.

K: So em if she were to fossilize, would these little derma- dermasites, is that what they're called. The little scales, cause the skin is thicker than the regular. And I know with em fossil crocodiles those scutes that cover, right underneath the skin fossilize. And actually an articulated alligator fossil is probably one of the coolest things I've ever seen. But I wonder if those are big enough and boney enough that they would actually fossilize. I don't think so because em, there are some animals that have a base of bone that then a keratin type structure grows on top of, like tortoises and armadillos have that as well. But this, it doesn't  have a boney base under there, it's just keratin, its just scale over the top, so I think that would break down just like the rest of of her scales would.

H: Pretty fast.

J: Even though it is thicker.

K: It would make an amazing fossil, just a skeleton with all these crazy..

J: Spikes everywhere! That would be, that would be cool.

H: You looking at me?

J: She like did I see.. maybe she saw the meal worm! 

H: Did you see the meal worm?

J: Ahh there it is!

H: You found it.

J: You want it? She's like uhh no!

H: Finding the meal worm though! Dont want to leave those around too much.

J: Fine! Fine! We should train water dragons to spot things, for us. Search and rescue dragons.

H: Good eyes, really good at spotting particular things.

J: As long as it's some place warm.

H: And as long as the thing is moving and could possibly be food.

J: Yeah!

H: Are you opening your mouth a little bit?

J: What do you think? Are you warm? Are you upset?

H: Oh, I'm sorry if you're upset. She doesn't like eh having the spikes touched?

J: She does not and she could have gotten mad when I was touching the spikes over by her jaw as well. But no, it makes her uncomfortable when you touch her spikes along the top, and uh she prefers not, to have that touched. And she's doing really well with her tail, for a long time she wasn't comfortable with people touching her tail, but ehm she's gotten much more comfortable.

H: Good! Good job.

J: Yeah, getting better. We got Lokita when she was about 4 years old, she was purchased from a pet store and ehm the kid had her until he moved to college and then he gave her to his dad. And his dad was a ehm game warden and was actually coming out and inspecting our facility just because we need that for our permits. And he saw what we had going on and said by the way do you want another one? And we couldn't really say no to a game warden so we said we would take him in.

J: So his name was Loki when we first got him but it's a female so we just changed it to Lokita.

H: You never really know with lizards, it's so hard to tell.

J: You do know.

K: Lizards are pretty crazy.

H: Oh? Wait you do know?

K: Some lizards are very strange, the gender spectrum is just kinda wherever. It's pretty amazing actually, what they can do in certain populations if there's not a male. Just one, I'll be..

J: Change

H: Yeah I can do that!

K: Change, yeah I can do that!

H: But these, its easier to

J: These guys are essentially dimorphic yeah, so the males are gonna be much bigger and have different coloration under there and have huge crests. I mean when you look at it you be like that's.. that's a dragon.

H: So it's the face not the genitalia.

J: Yeah, yeah that you can tell the difference, well the cloacas are very similar on the outside yeah.

H: Thanks for showing off, thanks for bringing her on the show. Kallie thank you for sharing some of your collection here, some of your 40,000 things.

K: Thanks for having me, this was great. Yes maybe next time we can have you.

H: I would love to come visit, if people want to now more about what you do, do you guys have a website?

K: Yes there is a website, let me see its, we just got a new website so it's tablet friendly. You don't realize how awesome it is until you don't have one that's tablet friendly. Changes sizes, all these amazing things. People can do basic searches, see what we have and some things have images and some things don't. If there's a researcher out there and I've identified something completely wrong and you want to correct me, feel free! That's how things work so, yeah, definitely check out the website, we do tours by appointment only. I give tours, we have display cases on the first and third floors of the Clatt building on campus and the first floor walks through time so you start with the Pre-cambrian, you end in the middle of Cenozic. And then on the third floor we have two full mounts of Ice Age mega fauna.

H: Awesome!

K: I won't spoil it for you, I won't you what it is. But yes, thank you so much for having me this has been great. I feel like an official scientist in Missoula now, I've been on the SciShow.

H: If you want to see more of what Jessy does and has to offer, she has a YouTube channel that we do with her  at ,see all of her animals, how she takes care of them.

J: What they do and everything.

H: Its a full reality TV drama set.. not really, its more a science channel.

J: I mean sometimes an animal will poop on me, but eh yeah its more..

H: And we're here on SciShow making stuff all the time and you can find us a that's all.