My professional interests center around Early Paleozoic strata and undergraduate education. Fortunately, the Lexington area offers plenty of both strata and undergraduates!
I study one of the most overlooked, neglected, and generally-considered-to-be-boring fossil groups, the linguliform brachiopods. I am working on a long term project documenting how the brachiopods responded to a series of 4–5 trilobite extinction events during the Late Cambrian–earliest Ordovician. Not only is extinction inherently fascinating, but this work may help explain the lull in diversification seen during this time, sandwiched between the Cambrian Explosion and the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event.
By focusing on a group of organisms few others study, I constantly make interesting discoveries. I was able to document that lingulid brachiopod larvae were being attacked by shell-breaking predators from early on in their history and that they sometimes survived that attack. I have also documented an interesting case of burrowing lingulids that were buried during a storm, burrowed upward to escape, but encountered the ubiquitous Ordovician brachiopod Rafinesquina, whose concave-downward shape caused the lingulids to concentrate under its shell, unable to go any further. It has long been recognized that ecosystems can be affected by the accumulation of shells ("taphonomic feedback"). This story led to a new idea, which is that the evolution of organisms as well as ecosystems may be affected not just by day-to-day interactions between organisms and shells, but by interactions during events like storms, that occur less commonly but make major changes to the ecosystem.
A good paleontologist is also a stratigrapher, and I have become involved in various stratigraphic projects as well, such as helping to determine the position of the Cambrian-Ordovician boundary in poorly-studied areas of southern Nevada, participating in a proposal to define the global Cambrian Stage 9/10 boundary in western Utah, and helping to document continuous sedimentation through the Sauk-Tippecanoe megasequence boundary in western Utah (an interval represented by an unconformity in most locations in North America). Since moving to Kentucky, I have also become involved in an effort to intensively study the Cincinnatian (Ordovician) peritidal facies of the area in an effort to understand the role of sea level fluctuation in producing the characteristic cyclic sedimentation patterns seen in the Cincinnatian.
My twin passion in life is undergraduate education. I enjoy teaching a variety of classes designed for both majors and non-majors. I try to encourage the majors to develop a solid foundation for their careers as geologists. At the same time I encourage the non-majors to gain a sense of understanding and respect for science even if they never take another science class. Of course, I sincerely hope to convince them to change their majors.
PUBLICATIONS: PAPERS (*student co-author)
Miller, J.F., Dattilo, B.F., Ethington, R.L., and Freeman, R.L. 2015. Polyfocal photos of microfossils using petrographic microscopes. Annales de Palaeontologie.
Miller, J.F., Evans, K.E., Freeman, R.L., Ripperdan, R.L., and Taylor, J.F. 2014. The Proposed GSSP for the base of the Lawsonian Stage (Cambrian Stage 10) at the First Appearance Datum of the conodont Eoconodontus notchpeakensis (Miller, 1969) in the House Range, Utah, USA. GFF.
Freeman, R. L., B. F. Dattilo, *A. Morse, *M. Blair, S. Felton, and J. Pojeta, Jr., 2013. The Curse of Rafinesquina: Negative taphonomic feedback exerted by strophomenid shells on storm-buried lingulids in the Cincinnatian Series (Katian, Ohio) of Ohio. PALAIOS, 28, 359-372. http://opus.ipfw.edu/geosci_facpubs/59/
Freeman, R. L. and J. F. Miller, 2011. Lingulate brachiopods from the Upper Cambrian (Sunwaptan) Hellnmaria Member of the Notch Peak Formation, western Utah. Memoirs of the Association of Australasian Paleontologists 42, 37–74.
Miller, J. F., K. R. Evans, R. L. Freeman, R. L. Ripperdan, and J. F. Taylor 2011. Proposed stratotype for the base of the Lawsonian Stage (Cambrian Stage 10) at the First Appearance Datum of Eoconodontus notchpeakensis (Miller) in the House Range, Utah, USA. Bulletin of Geosciences86(3):595–620. http://www.geology.cz/bulletin/contents/art1255
Freeman, R. L. and J. F. Miller, 2011. First report of a larval shell repair scar on a lingulate brachiopod: Evidence of durophagous predation in the Cambrian pelagic realm? Journal of Paleontology 85(4), 697–704.
Freeman, R. J., and Stitt, J. H. 1996. Upper Cambrian and lowest Ordovician articulate brachiopods from the Arbuckle and Wichita Mountains, Oklahoma. Journal of Paleontology 70(3),355–372.
PUBLICATIONS: ABSTRACTS (Last 3 to 4 years)
Dattil, B. F., Reeder, J., Freeman, R. L., and Argast, A. 2015. Ordivician small shelly fauna from the Elgin Member of the Maquoketa: Ecologically dwarfed or taphonomically biased? Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Freeman, R. L., Ethington, R. L., Miller, J. F., and Dattilo, B. F., 2014, Tectonic complications in correlating the Sauk-Tippecanoe megasequence boundary between western and eastern Laurentia: clues from conodont biostratigraphy. Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Dattilo, B. F., Freeman, R. L., Heimbrock, W. P., Martin, A. J., and Argast, A., 2014, Giants among micromorphs: phosphatic steinkerns are small because of taphonomic size-selectivity, not ecological stress. Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Sparr, J. P.*, and Freeman, R. L., 2014, Rapid burial and unusual preservation of a crinoid garden in the Mississippian Borden Formation of south central Kentucky. National Council on Undergraduate Research Annual Meeting
Sparr, J. P.*, and Freeman, R. L., 2014, Snapshot of phosphate nodule formation in the Mississipian Borden Formation, Kentucky: A crinoid obrution event as a source of phosphorus. Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Freeman, R. L., and Dattilo, B.F., 2014, How many shells are in a shell bed? Mixed taphonomy and shell destruction in a time-rich storm-disturbed Cincinnatian (Ordovician, Katian) shell bed. Geological Society of America, Programs with Abstracts
Freeman, R.L., Fischer, S*., Dattilo, B.F., Schramm, T*., Brett, C.E., Mosser, S*., Blair, M.*, and Chakraborty, S. 2013. Can carbon-isotopes constrain high-resolution stratigraphy of Ordovician shallow water facies in the Cincinnati, Ohio region? Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs
Freeman, R.L., 2013. Can ninety-nine non-science majors design and execute research projects in an introductory Oceanography class? Using simple geographic visualization tools and real-world data to improve engagement and achieve mandated learning outcomes. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs
Miller, J.F., Evans, K.E., Freeman, R.L., Ripperdan, R.L., and Taylor, J.F. 2013.The Proposed GSSP for the base of the Lawsonian Stage (Cambrian Stage 10) at the First Appearance Datum of the conodont Eoconodontus notchpeakensis (Miller, 1969) in the House Range, Utah, USA, in, Lindskog, A., and Melqvist, K., eds., Proceedings of the 3rd IGCP 591 Annual Meeting, p. 226–228.
Dattilo, B. F., R. L. Freeman, T. Gerke, C. E. Brett, P. I. McLaughlin,T. J. Schramm, D. L. Meyer, A. Morse* and M. Mason. 2013. From lagerstatte to lag: Preliminary bedding-scale taphonomic and geochemical analysis of phosphate distribution in the Cincinnatian. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs
Freeman, R.L,, Dattilo, B.F., Morse, A.*, Blair, M.*, Felton, S., and Pojeta, John J., Jr. 2012. Stirred not shaken: Using taphonomy to reconstruct paleoecological succession and taphonomic feedback in a Cincinnatian (Ordovician, Ohio) storm-disturbed shell bed. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 44(7), 273.
Hassan, C.B.S.I., C. E. Schwalbach, C. E. Brett,J. R. Thomka, R. L. Freeman, and D. M. Haneberg-Diggs, 2012. Ghosts of vanished shell beds: Taphonomic and stratigraphic implications of an Upper Ordovician (450-455 million years old) bryozoan bonanza on a bivalve shell pavement, Central Kentucky.Proceedings of the 2nd IGCP 591 Annual Meeting, p. 18
Freeman, R. L., B. F. Dattilo, A. Morse*, M. Blair*, B. A. Utesch*, S. Felton, and J. Pojeta, Jr. 2012. The brachiopod trap: What their oldest (Upper Ordovician, Ohio) failed escape burrows tell us about the evolution of burrowing in lingulids. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 44(5), 18.
Ethington, R. L., J. F. Miller, B. F. Dattilo, and R. L. Freeman. 2012. Conodont biostratigraphy across a conformable Sauk-Tippecanoe megasequence boundary, western central Utah. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 44(5), 1.
Mosser, S.*, T. J. Schramm*, B. F. Dattilo, C. Brett, R. L. Freeman, and M. Blair*. 2012. Fine-scale lithologic variations in Late Ordovician (Katian) peritidal deposits of the Kentucky Bluegrass region suggest sea-level fluctuations as the primary mechanism for type Cincinnatian meter-scale cycles. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, 44(5), 16.
Freeman, R. L., J. F. Miller, L. E. Holmer, and M. Streng. 2011. Lingulate brachiopod extinction and global migration coinciding with three Laurentian trilobite extinction events during the Late Cambrian–earliest Ordovician. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(5), 543.
Dattilo, B. F., J. F. Miller, R. L. Freeman, and R. L. Ripperdan. 2011. How conodonts, brachiopods, carbon isotopes and sequence stratigraphy moved the Cambrian-Ordovician boundary in Nevada. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(5), 375.
Miller, J. F., B. F. Dattilo, K. R. Evans, R. L. Freeman, J. F. Loch, J. E. Repetski, R. L. Ripperdan, A. C. Runkel, and J. F. Taylor. 2011. Integrating bio-, chemo-, gamma-ray-, litho-, and sequence stratigraphy in the Upper Cambrian and Lower Ordovician: Progress toward a comprehensive stratigraphic framework. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(5), 376.
Freeman, R. L. and J. F. Miller. 2011. New lingulate brachiopods from Upper Cambrian and lowest Ordovician (Millardan/Ibexian) strata in central Texas: Correlations with the Great Basin, Wyoming and Beyond. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(3), 5.
Dattilo, B. F., R. L. Freeman, B. A. Utesch, S. Felton, and J. Pojeta, Jr. 2011. An unusual association of Pseudolingula and Rafinesquina from the Upper Ordovician of Ohio. Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs 43(1), 69.