Friday, 18 May 2012

Who am I? Why am I doing this?

Just a quick introduction about me and the blog. I did my BSc at the University of Alberta in Canada under the supervision of Phil Currie. I was looking at variation of skull morphology in Centrosaurus apertus. It was great fun, but I wasn't sure I wanted to spend the rest of my life looking at ceratopsians (although they are pretty cool). On a trip to France, I had a chance to go to a small palaeontology museum  in Esperaza. Although this museum is quite small compared to what I'm used to (the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Alberta), they had something I had never seen before: a complete skeletal replica of Quetzalcoatlus standing at full height. At that moment, standing in front of this huge, strange animal skeleton, I was hooked. I decided pterosaurs were the coolest thing ever and I wanted to study them. Deciding on a location for a postgrad was difficult, since my fiancĂ© was also looking for a postgrad position (in physics, totally unrelated to palaeo). After narrowing it down to three institutions, we decided on Bristol. So far it has been fantastic. Instead of choosing an advertised project for my MSc (which is what we were supposed to do and everyone else did), I contacted Colin Palmer, who is working on pterosaur flight mechanics at UoB, and he designed a project for me. I'm currently looking at basically every CT scan that has ever been done on ornithocheirids (which isn't actually that many) and trying to estimate the skeletal weight. So far, the project is going very well, despite being about a month behind the rest of the program because of a family emergency. I'm currently working on my first attempt at a publication, which I hope will be submitted soon. Eventually, when I have time, I still plan on submitting my undergraduate work on Centrosaurus for publication, but of course my pterosaur work takes precedent! I have been accepted to a PhD next year at the University of Bristol, and I'm looking forward to that for sure.

This blog will mostly be on pterosaurs, my work, and other people's work, but I will occasionally post on dinosaurs, fossils, general palaeontology, etc. I'm mostly interested in functional and biomechanical aspects of pterosaurs, but I'm also interested in their evolution, so I'll occasionally talk about the too. Basically my goal is to start discussing palaeontological things with other palaeontologists, and get some non-experts interested too!

Hope you all enjoy!
Quetzalcoatlus skeletal mount at Le Musee des Dinosaures in Esperaza, France