Jun
10

Week One Update

I arrived to my first day at the Smithsonian on the 28th of May.  After a brief orientation, I got started pretty much right after.  I spent the first week reading literature for about three to four hours each day, all to flesh out the ideas in my proposal.  I focused on finding papers that had similar methodologies to what I am trying to accomplish.  And when my eyes just could not take it any more, I summarized my literature reading into my research proposal and goals.  By the end, I had a five page proposal, three pages of citations, and my data sheet set up.  In addition, I created my meta data sheet.

In addition, I combed through the fossil collections of mosasaurs for Clidastes skulls.  I found one amazingly-preserved skull with all the skull elements.  Using this specimen, I chose skull characteristics that I thought would be important to analyzing skull changes in relation to diet.  These included the length of the jaws, the length of the skull, and the length of the jaw hinge bones.  And although these will probably change over the course of my summer, it was a good start so I could start collecting data.

I also started to learn the bones of the reptile skull so I could be able to identify them easier going forward with data collection.  I printed out diagrams and utilized a model of an assembled skull of a mosasuar to get better at identification.  And by the end of the week, I was relatively confident that I was starting to be able to identify the important bones I would need.  After this first week, I felt like I was ready to start measuring bones and collecting data.

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