More on Puijila later on this week - don't worry, I know its a hot topic, and I love seals, but I'll post on that later.
Last weekend I participated in the 4th annual Earth Sciences Colloquium, a student research conference done in our department for students and organized completely by students (go us!). In any event, I helped out quite a bit with it, and (gasp) was the technical chair for the conference - I communicated with all the presenters, organized the technical program, and moderated the oral sessions. It was nearly enough work so that I almost didn't present my talk, the subject of this post; the title page is below. I've included a bunch of slides I thought looked neat. On the title page are the logos of various institutions loosely involved with this research (and planned research projects/collaborations): J. Geisler (Georgia Southern U.), Rachel Racicot (Yale U.), and Frank Perry (Santa Cruz Museum).
Shockingly enough, I talked about cetaceans. Since it was for a more general audience, I spent a while talking about how awesome the whale fossil record is:
Here's a very general cladogram of whale phylogeny.
One of the really apparent morphological transformations is the posterior migration of the nares. In reality, I could have added a dozen or more transitional fossils in here.
And of course there's the whole hindlimb thing. I love how the pelvic girdle of Dorudon and other basilosaurids just kinda 'floats' in soft tissue.
On to actual data... I won't elaborate on this much, as this is the subject of my SVP abstract that I co-authored with Jonathan Geisler (Georgia Southern U.), and Frank Perry (Santa Cruz Museum of NH). Above is a partial skull of a late Pliocene pilot whale superimposed over a modern Globicephala macrorhynchus.
This is a recently collected gem - an articulated petrotympanic of a new genus of porpoise or basal delphinoid. This is associated with a partial skull that has yet to be completely prepared.
Lastly, here is a pie chart I made for fun, of all the different periotic morphotypes represented in the Purisima Formation (N = 120). I can probably get N up to 150 if I need to. In other news, my Master's thesis proposal has received its informal stamp of approval from my committee, so kickass.
Edit: I really need to use the spellcheck feature more judiciously; I typed up this post pretty fast, so the typos were pretty obvious. I apologize for all the grammer nazis. Just typos, not a sign of my incompetence.