What’s New in the Mu?

The 2022 Midwest Archaeological Conference annual meeting was held in La Crosse, Wisconsin, in October. The conference theme was Sharing Perspectives, and avocational and professional archaeologists and representatives of Indigenous Nations met for three days to present and talk about topics of mutual interest.

Laura Monahan, UWZM Associate Director and Curator of Osteology, and Janet Speth, zooarchaeologist and honorary fellow at the Museum, attended the meeting and presented research grounded in the collections at the Zoological Museum, and in the long-standing interest in past climates and climate change in the UW–Madison Department of Anthropology and the Center for Climatic Research.

Janet organized a poster session about Antropology Professor David A. Baerreis: 40 Years A. B. (After Baerreis): Recent Research into Past Environments and Climate Change through the Lens of Archaeology. At this session Laura presented a poster entitled At a Snail’s Pace: Terrestrial Gastropods in Archaeology. This poster focused attention on the David A. Baerreis snail collection, curated at the Zoology Museum. This collection includes snails from archaeological sites as well as snails collected by Baerreis and others during the 1960s–1980s. One of the archeologists attending the session remarked that this was the best poster he had seen at these conferences. He also complimented the poster submitted by Janet in conjunction with Liz Pillaert, UWZM Curator Emerita. This poster, Bones, Blowing Dust and Snails, described the development of Baerreis’s interest in past environments. The layout of both posters was done by the multi-talented Kandis Elliot, Senior Artist Emerita. Janet’s poster went to the University of Iowa for display with some of Baerreis’s excavation equipment from Iowa.

Laura and Dr. Jean Hudson, UW–Milwaukee, presented Of Dogs, Wolves, and Coyotes: Evaluating the Potential of Post-Cranial Osteometrics to Differentiate Fragmentary Archaeological Canidae Remains. Dr. Hudson and her students measured elements of modern wolf and coyote specimens from the UWZM collections, to see if size was a reliable way to identify species of large canids. Results of this study may prove to be especially important for zooarchaeologists who often find canid bones in archaeological contexts but are unable to provide a species identification. Dr. Hudson reminded her audience of what an important and valuable resource the Museum is for anyone working with animal remains from archeological sites.

Laura Monahan's Poster
Janet Speth's Poster