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Robert DePalma


M.S. Paleontology

A Boca Raton native, Robert DePalma began his career in natural history at the young age of 3, when he began collecting fossil bones and shells in the Florida area. His interests quickly centered on dinosaurs and other prehistoric creatures. By the age of 12, his interests in reconstructing the past, fossil preparation, and success at collecting specimens prompted local nature centers and historical societies to invite him to give brief lectures. Also at that time, his efforts at reconstructing the musculature and life-appearance of extinct creatures attracted the attention of Denver Museum of Natural History paleontologist John Gurche. Gurche mentored Robert in the science and art of reconstructing the fleshy parts of extinct organisms and producing lifelike representations. These skills were put to use when Robert collaborated with paleontologist John Ostrom while reconstructing the ligaments, tendons and musculature of the foot of Deinonychus for the Graves Museum of Natural History. Robert’s skills of producing detailed sculptures and drawings of creatures were augmented by Hollywood FX icon Stan Winston, whose company recreated the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park. Since then, DePalma’s reconstructions of fossils and extinct creatures have become world renowned.

DePalma began his official academic work with fossils in 1995 when working on Miocene and Pliocene fossils for the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Since then, Robert has been all over the world searching for and collecting the remains of dinosaurs and other creatures that once roamed the earth. In 1997, while in high school, he began working for the Graves Museum of Archaeology and Natural History, preparing and restoring fossil specimens, and excavating dinosaur remains in the badlands of Wyoming, South Dakota, and Montana. He conducted fieldwork in the US and abroad each summer since then, and in 1999 and 2000 he led two successful biodiversity and geological expeditions to the rainforest of Costa Rica. Furthermore, DePalma’s expeditions to the Hell Creek Formation in South Dakota have yielded many rare specimens, including diverse assemblages of dinosaur bones, rare Cretaceous bird and mammal fossils, and the first insect ever recorded in Cretaceous amber from South Dakota.

 DePalma’s work continued at the University of Kansas where he attended university for a portion of his undergraduate training and worked for their Natural History Museum. While later working on his degree in geology at Florida Atlantic University, Robert became president of the Geology Club, and put much effort into connecting FAU’s students to local museums, collecting sites, and paleontological resources. At the same time, he became acting Assistant Curator of Paleontology for the Palm Beach Museum of Natural History. During his time working for the Palm Beach Museum, Robert has given numerous public talks, both formal and informal, and students from FAU were recruited by the Palm Beach Museum, assisting with museum activities while learning more about field techniques and ancient life. Robert also played a key role in designing and fabricating numerous mobile exhibits that were put on display in South Florida.

After receiving his Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Florida Atlantic University in 2007, DePalma returned to the University of Kansas where he completed his masters degree in paleontology and also managed KUs paleontology laboratory. Current projects include work on a new species of maniraptoran dinosaur, predation in T. rex, a new species of primitive amphibian, research of flying raptors and the evolution of birds, the development of a new, entirely biologic technique for fossil preparation, and field expeditions to various localities.


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