In a post two months ago, I promised that I’d keep you updated with how my research is progressing. Needless to say, I’ve done a pretty poor job of that, unless you follow me on Twitter! I must apologise – the workload while traveling was severely under-estimated, and I’ve barely had time to catch a nip. I’m writing to you now from Lyon, where I finally had a day off in about a month to explore the Basilica and Roman amphitheater ruins here, and am now nestled in a snug pub hammering away at a manuscript!
I’m in Berlin. I’ve just managed to find a chicken donner kebab, and am pausing research briefly to write this. I’m currently on leave from London, with a ridiculously hectic couple of months ahead: I’ve just been to Munich to see a dwarf crocodile specimen, Alligatorellus beaumonti (from Bavaria), which conveniently happened to coincide with Oktoberfest, and am now here to visit another specimen, Theriosuchus ibericus, from Spain. Preliminary glances at the material in Berlin makes me think the Spanish material may be a new genus altogether (whatever that actually means), and another broken up specimen of Alligatorellus might be a new species, based on what I can tell from it’s body armour (yeah, these crocs were awesome!)
Alligatorellus beaumonti, holotype specimen. Copyright: Bavarian State Collection, Munich
My PhD consists of two parts. The first is investigating the dynamics of biodiversity across the Jurassic/Cretaceous interval about 145 million years ago. I want to see if when we consider the biases of the fossil record whether there was a ‘hidden’ mass extinction, and what were the ecological, physiological or environmental factors that correspond to this. This involves looking at turtles, birds, dinosaurs, marine reptiles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles and any other tetrapod group at the time – that’s anything with four feet, flippers or wings (see previous post for an update on all this jazz).
Evolutionary relationships of major tetrapod groups – many extinct, and many still with us today! Source.