Scott Persons, College of Charleston assistant professor of geology and curator of the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History, and a team of researchers generated a lot of excitement earlier this year when they discovered the Serpentisuchops (sur-pen-ta-soo-kops), a previously unknown prehistoric marine reptile.

Persons knew he wanted to be a paleontologist from the time he was two and a half years old. To test his determination, Persons’ parents lied about his age (he was 12 years old) to enroll him in a dinosaur hunting exhibition in Wyoming’s Glenrock Badlands.

“My parents were very concerned about this career path I’d chosen,” explains Persons. “They thought, we’ll send him to this camp, throw him into the deep end in the hot Wyoming sun with a shovel and pickaxe for a couple of weeks, and we’ll see if he still wants to stick with it. And as it happened, I fell in love with the work and the environment.”

Since that initial expedition, Persons has returned to the Badlands without exception every single summer. Now, CofC students join him on fossil expeditions at the College’s Paleontology Field School in Glenrock. After listening to Persons on this Speaking OfCollege of Charleston podcast episode, you’ll be eager to hop on a plane and head to the Badlands, too. 

Featured on this episode:

Scott Persons grew up on a rural farm in the mountains of North Carolina. He first became a “dino-maniac” at the age of two-and-a-half when his father bought him his first dinosaur book. Since then, he has joined fossil hunting expeditions in Mongolia’s Gobi Desert; the volcanic ash beds of Liaoning, China; Africa’s Olduvai Gorge and throughout the American and Canadian West. Persons has had the honor of studying and working under his two biggest childhood heroes – world-renowned paleontologists Robert Bakker and Philip Currie. His research focuses on understanding dinosaur ecology and the evolution of dinosaur locomotion. His work has been featured on the National Geographic and Discovery channels and in Smithsonian and Discover magazines. In addition to his role as assistant professor, Persons serves as curator of the Mace Brown Museum of Natural History. So far, Persons has “hunted for fossils and eaten pizza on six continents.”

Listen to other episodes of Speaking of … College of Charleston and subscribe via Buzzsprout or platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.

Resources for this episode:

CofC Paleontologists Uncover Strange New Prehistoric Sea Monster

No Bones About It: CofC’s Paleontology Field School is Way Cool

CofC Professor, Alum Help Identify New Species of ‘Tyrannosaurus’

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