McKeighen, Jr., Ken

Ken McKeighen Jr. fondly remembers his first fish he purchased when he was 10 years old, a coffee can full of bait minnows he purchased for 10 cents. He was 10 when he won his first art contest, first place with an ice cream social poster at his elementary school.  He was 11 when he discovered his first fossil, a brachiopod (a type of shelled filter feeder). He also “grew up” along the rivers and in the woods of Indiana. From these beginnings Ken began his journey into the natural sciences and as a fish and wildlife illustrator. Ken became fascinated with killifish while in high school and led to his joining the American Killifish Association in 1973. Ken’s fascination with fish includes everything from lampreys to modern bony fish. Ken’s interest in paleontology has led him to keep almost all the primitive fish types from fresh water including lampreys, bichers, gars, bowfins, lungfish, sturgeon, and several of the bony tongues. Ken has also kept a number of marine fish and invertebrates as well as most of the fish types available. Ken has been a member of the British Killifish Association, the North American Native Fish Association, and many other clubs, groups and associations. Ken has also donated many articles and illustrations to these and other associations including the German Killifish Association and the Japanese Killifish Association. Ken has also done presentations to both the American Killifish Association, NANFA, and many AKA affiliate groups from coast to coast. Ken has also become noted for his killifish illustrations which have been used as illustrations and as awards around the world. Ken has painted over 1,650 killifish paintings which have been proudly presented as awards since the Hull Group of the British Killifish Association commissioned him for 14 paintings in 1990. Ken has also illustrated many other fish, both from fresh water and marine. Ken has also been to almost every type of fish habitat available in North America from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. These habitats include the following: swamps to desert springs, from the Great Lakes to small ponds; and from headwater streams to the Mississippi River. Ken began to study paleontology as soon as he discovered his first fossil. He collected fossils from gravel drives, lots and playgrounds as a kid. When he got his driver’s license he started exploring road cuts and stone quarries. He has explored and collected fossils from the Upper Ordivician Period (over 400,000,000 years old) to end of ice age deposits over 10,000 years old. When his brother discovered a Dimetrodon specimen from the Lower Permian of central New Mexico, they were added to the museum staff, Ken as a full research associate, his brother as a volunteer field researcher. It was within a few days of receiving his appointment letter that he discovered the Scholle copper mine vertebrate site, one of the most fossiliferous sites in central New Mexico. Along with several reptile and amphibian taxa Ken also discovered several Dimetrodon specimens in the Scholle mine deposits, a first for the genus in New Mexico. Ken has since given several presentations at the New Mexico Geologic Society and the Rocky Mountain Geologic Society concerning his discoveries of both the Scholle mine site and his Dimetrodon discoveries in central NM. Ken is currently both a life and distinguished member of the American Killifish Association and donates the McKeighen Award for the best North American Killifish entry at the AKA’s national convention. Ken also supports the George Maiher Fund with art donations that are auctioned at the convention to help raise funds for killifish research. Ken is the host of the Under  the Sea Radio Program on Blogtalk Radio. The show brings many issues and information to it’s listeners from aquariums and fish to conservation issues.  He is also the host of the Fine Art of Paleontology, a show dedicated to paleontology and the prehistoric past. Ken’s first talk will deal with pupfish, their care and captive maintenance along with what he has observed at the different habitats these interesting fish live in, including Devil’s Hole, NV.  Ken has kept a number of species of these interesting, little fish. Ken is the Friday night keynote speaker and this presentation will deal with the evolution of the freshwater fish. Ken will take us on a journey from the fishes’ humble beginnings as motile ascidian larvae to the masters of the world they live in. Programs: Pupfish, Marvels of Evolution The Evolution of Freshwater Fish: A Natural History