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Showing posts from August, 2016

Q&A with Alex Brannick: What's it like to dig out a T. rex?

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What’s the workday for a fossil researcher – a paleontologist? Recently, a group of paleontologists in UW Biology discovered and partially excavated a fossil of the famous meat-eating dinosaur, Tyrannosaurus rex. Here, Alex Brannick, Ph.D. candidate and scientist on the scene, shares what it was like to work on this project in the field:
What research were you doing at the Hell Creek Formation, where the T. rex fossil was found? My research surrounds studying the morphology and evolution of Cretaceous metatherian mammals (a group of mammals that includes modern marsupials). Fossils (mostly teeth) of the animals that I am interested in can be found in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana. I was also part of a surveying project in the beginning of the field season. So, not directly connected to the T. rex. However, Dr. Greg Wilson (my advisor) and his crew are part of larger project that includes many different areas of paleontology and geology, including collecting dinosaur specimens.
Di…

Grad Publication: Molly Roberts with a Fresh Look into Salinity Changes and Phytoplankton in the Salish Sea

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Haiku: Fresh water brings plants lowers carbon dioxide in San Juan Islands
Global carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution from cars, airplanes, and coal plants influence the Salish Sea in multiple ways. As you may know, CO2 is causing global warming by acting as a greenhouse gas. CO2 also causes ocean acidification by dissolving in seawater. More acidic ocean conditions make it more difficult for some marine organisms to grow and make shells. Regionally, warming may also influence the timing and magnitude of river influence in the San Juan Archipelago. All of these changes may interact and have cascading effects on organisms in the region. 
Over the past few years a group of scientists at the University of Washington’s marine station, Friday Harbor Laboratories, on San Juan Island, found that the seawater flowing around the lab docks often had twice as much CO2 as the atmosphere.1 This means that the organisms living in this water are living in conditions similar to what is expected globally 100 y…

Grad Publication: Lauren Vandepas on Nautilus Phylogenetic Awesomeness and Fisheries Cautiousness

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The nautilus shell is a familiar shape, reminiscent of the golden ratio or the decorative soaps in your grandmother’s kitschy beach-themed pastel bathroom. Nautiluses – cephalopod mollusks, relatives of squids and octopuses – are as enigmatic and striking as their famous outerwear.

Nautiluses’ unique natural history and ancient body plan set them apart from their cephalopod brethren. They are the only cephalopod lineage to keep its external shell and are thought to never stray far from the sea floor. They are limited on the shallow end by their low tolerance for the warm surface waters of the Indo-Pacific, where they exclusively reside, and on the deep end by a fatal-shell-implosion depth (which is as sad as it sounds) of about 800 m. In contrast to squid, they are lousy swimmers. The octopus has amazing eyesight – nautilus, not so much. Despite these potential evolutionary “shortcomings,” nautiluses have been around for a LONG time; modern nautilus appear to have changed very little…