Tuesday, November 5, 2013

GSA and SVP What I learned

In addition to the 125th GSA conference i also attended the 73rd meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology.
I went to many talks at GSA one session I went to was themed on Precambrian rocks and I thought that the use of zircon crystals to date rocks was very interesting. there was also a session devoted to the future of geology and the role museums play in teaching the general public about geology. One poster that really interested me was called On the Origin of Perissodactyls. Perissodactyla is the order of ungulates that contains horses, rhinoceroses and tapirs. The poster described how the diversity of the species in this order changed over time. It also explained the changes in the animals over the course of their evolution such as tooth morphology and changes in the skeleton.
I found many more interesting posters and talks at SVP since paleontology is my main interest. Two posters really caught my interest one that showed evidence that the American Alligator evolved from ancestors that were specialists even though the alligator is a generalist. this was interesting because usually the specialists die out because they cannot exploit as many food resources as the generalists can also usually after an extinction event generalists evolve into specialists to take advantage of recently opened niches, but here was an example of the opposite the specialist did not go extinct and evolved into a generalist. The other showed the injuries most commonly sustained by Smilodon fatalis and Canis dirus compared to the hunting style of both species. S. fatalis had injuries focused more on the post cervical part of the skeleton and in particular the lumbar region of the spine in C. dirus most of the injuries are to the cranial, cervical, sacral, and appendage parts of the body which matches the hunting style of each S. fatalis ambushing and wrestling their prey and C. dirus chasing prey. 
There were many experiences on this trip that did not come from the conference such as money management if you do not manage money or time well you will end up spending more than you have on food and souvenirs or items you think you should get to help in school even so I would recommend to anyone interested in geology that did not go on this trip to go on one in the future you learn a lot and it helps in organizing and solidifying information you already had.

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