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April 10, 2015

After an exhaustive, international search, the Virginia Museum of Natural History announces the hiring of Dr. Alex Hastings as assistant curator of paleontology.  With a heavy research interest in the relationship between the evolution of vertebrate animals and shifts in climate and ecology, Hastings has named five new species of ancient crocodilians in his young career, as well as played a key role in the discovery of the fossil snake Titanoboa, a 42 foot long relative of the anaconda.  Hastings will begin his role at VMNH in July.

“Dr. Hastings work has led to some remarkable discoveries about the roles of crocodiles in ancient ecosystems, from gigantic beasts that specialized on eating equally gigantic turtles, to long-legged crocs that may have been able to run down and eat horses,” said Dr. James Beard, director of research and collections at the museum.  “His work is international in scope and we welcome him to the Virginia Museum of Natural History.”

Hastings comes to the museum from Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, where he was a postdoctoral fellow within the Center for Natural Science Collections.  There, he studied the ecology and evolution of German fossil crocodilians, focusing on predator interactions and peculiar adaptations during a very warm time in Earth's history.

“Dr. Hastings is a prime example of young talent in the field of paleontology,” said Dr. Joe Keiper, executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History.  “I am proud that we are continuing the museum’s long tradition of attracting excellent and accomplished researchers.”

Hastings holds a Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from the University of Florida and a B.S. in Geosciences from Penn State University.  He previously served as a visiting instructor at Georgia Southern University and a teaching and research assistant at the University of Florida.

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