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The last decade of Marine vertebrate paleontology in the Pacific Northwest

A scene from one of my favorite movies, The Goonies - with Haystack Rock (a Neogene igneous intrusion) and Cannon Beach in the background, and typical Oregon coast weather.Another famous sea stack at Olympic National Park in Washington. The Pacific Northwest - the "top left" corner of the United States (and British Columbia!), if you will - is a land...

Paleontological research tips I: field notes for amateurs and professionals alike

I'm starting off a new series of posts that will cover various aspects of paleontological research. When I started doing paleo research I was a bit lost when it came to organizing my thoughts. After all, there's a lot of work involved in taking fossils and squeezing information out of them and arriving at a published article. Following the underpants...

Summer adventures, part 4: Montana trip II

 More from the Montana segment of the trip!On our way back from Cooke City MT we got this fabulous red exposure which I'm guessing can only be the Triassic Chugwater Formation. On our way to Yellowstone, we passed by this famous outcrop on the way to the Mammoth/Gardiner entrance to the Park. The red stripe is called Devil's Slide, and is an exposure...

Summer adventures, part 4: Montana trip I

Okay, some time to blog again. This is a picture heavy, text-light post with some pretty fossils, wildlife, and aurorae. After being in New Zealand for almost four years, we made a trip to Billings, Montana, to hang out with Sarah's half of the family. We spent about two weeks there, and got to visit Beartooth Pass, Cooke City, and our eternal buddies...

Summer adventures, part 3: a visit to Santa Cruz

In June Sarah and I visited Santa Cruz two days in a row, and found quite a bit down there - here's  brief "slideshow" of some of what we saw, paleontological and otherwise.Carcharodon hastalis tooth collected by Sarah from the lower Purisima Formation; teeth from this spot are often missing the root.Pigeon guillemots roosting in exposures of the Santa...

Summer adventures, part 2: return to Point Reyes

Before leaving New Zealand, I made sure to submit another permit application to the US National Park Service to continue fieldwork within Point Reyes National Seashore. Guilty admission: I remembered to start work on a permit application when I saw in the news that one hiker died and a second hiker was seriously injured in a cliff collapse at Arch Rock...

Summer adventures, part 1: Halfmoon Bay field recon

 I've got quite a bit to catch up on from this summer - I've been busy (too busy, in fact). So, here's a selection of photos from the first part of our vacation back in the USA. We didn't waste much time heading back out to some choice localities in Halfmoon Bay. However, the drought and lack of erosion/storms has really taken its toll on local fossil...

The Coastal Paleontologist returns!

Hey all!It's been a while, and a lot has happened since I took a bit of a break. All good, mind you. I took a break from blogging in March so that I could focus on something that was a tad more important - finishing my Ph.D. I submitted my doctoral thesis for external review in February. At Otago and elsewhere in NZ, the Ph.D. finalization process is...

Advances in marine vertebrate taphonomy - last 5 years (2010 to early 2015)

The major focus of this blog is fossil marine vertebrates, but my secondary research interest is taphonomy - the study of fossil preservation. For a number of reasons, the preservation of terrestrial organisms is much better understood and more frequently studied than that of marine organisms. Many who dabble in marine taphonomy come at it from a background...

Introducing Eotaria crypta from the Miocene of Southern California - the oldest known otariid pinniped

Photos of the holotype specimen and life restoration of Eotaria crypta, with Allodesmus for scale (Allodesmus is roughly the size of an adult male Steller's sea lion). Artwork by yours truly. Fur seals and sea lions are grouped into the family Otariidae, and are otherwise known as eared seals; each informal group used to be considered as clades, and...

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