Daniel Fisher

Daniel C. Fisher completed undergraduate and graduate work in geological sciences at Harvard University (PhD, 1975) and was appointed to the Department of Geological Sciences at the University of Rochester. In 1979, he moved to the University of Michigan's Department of Geological Sciences and Museum of Paleontology, where he is now the Claude W. Hibbard Collegiate Professor and Curator of Paleontology.

Shortly after arriving in Ann Arbor, Fisher was called to several local sites where remains of mastodons had turned up during the excavation of farm ponds. Evidence at some of these sites suggested that humans had been involved in postmortem carcass processing (butchery), and thus began a long-term interest in whether human activity was a significant cause of the late Pleistocene extinction of mastodons and mammoths.

Fisher's recent studies of this question focus on using data on the structure and composition of mastodon and mammoth tusks to reconstruct aspects of their behavior, growth history, nutritional status, reproductive biology, and response to environmental conditions.

While still involved in work on North American material, Fisher has also expanded his research to include woolly mammoths in northern Siberia. His recent research includes an in-depth study of Lyuba, the most complete mammoth specimen ever found, which was discovered nearly intact in Siberia in 2007. He is a founding member of the International Mammoth Committee (IMC), which works to ensure that mammoth specimens like Lyuba are studied and preserved as part of our natural history heritage.

Although remote in every sense from the Great Lakes region mastodons that originally attracted his interest, Fisher's arctic research is adding new insights to the scientific understanding of mammoth and mastodon paleobiology and late Pleistocene extinction.

For The Field Museum exhibition Mammoths and Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age, Fisher acted as lead curator, overseeing content relating to mammoths and mastodons in general and to Lyuba in particular.

Biography courtesy of the Field Museum. Photograph by Francis Latreille.

Content by Daniel Fisher

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In the spring of 2007, Siberian reindeer herder Yuri Khudi and his family excited researchers all over the world with their inadvertent discovery. They’d stumbled upon the carcass of a baby mammoth, exhumed by nature after 40,000 years of being frozen in permafrost. With the exception of some missing hair and toenails, she was almost entirely intact.