Mammal Teeth Make Waves On PBS's "Prehistoric Road Trip"

Jun 17, 2020

The tooth of a Plesiadapis, or primate like mammal that lived 55 to 58 million years ago.
Credit Laura Vietti

PBS will air a three-part documentary this summer that explores Wyoming's geology and environment. The documentary, "Prehistoric Road Trip", brings together scientists across the state to investigate Wyoming's rocks and fossils.

Laura Vietti, University of Wyoming Geological Museum and Collections Manager, advised the documentary about mammal teeth, which she said are the key to information about the past.

"The beauty of the teeth is that they are like paleontologic gold because they hold a whole lot of information. And so I worked with Emily [the host of the documentary] and I discussed the role that teeth have, why teeth are so important and the different types of information a single tooth might have," said Vietti.

Vietti said mammal teeth can tell researchers about the animal's species, size, age, diet, and even its last meal. By grinding the teeth up, Vietti said researchers can also determine the animal's migration patterns and what kind of climate it lived in. "Prehistoric Road Trip" airs on Wednesdays at 9 p.m. beginning June 17 on PBS.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.