Spotlight, Invertebrate Paleontologists

Welcome to our Spotlight Series!

Listen to Spotlight on PodBean, Spotify, YouTube or wherever you catch pods!

We’re talking paleo-science with some paleo-people! Across this 5-part series, you’ll get to know some paleontologists as we interview them about their research and their lives as scientists.

Our theme for this series is Invertebrate Paleontology

Here on this blog post, we’ll collect information on our guests, ways you can find them on the internet, and some photos of what we discussed in the episodes!

We’ll be updating this post as we release our Spotlight episodes throughout September!

Episode List
1. Spotlight – Dave Marshall
2. Spotlight – Adriane Lam
3. Spotlight – Alycia Stigall
4. Spotlight – Chris Mah
5. Spotlight – Ranjeev Epa

Dave Marshall

Dave is a PhD candidate at the University of Bristol. He studies Paleozoic predatory arthropods called eurypterids and is a creator and host of the podcast Palaeocast and its related science education projects!

Places to find Dave:
Twitter: @DaveJMarshall

Eurypterids are a group of ancient arthropods known commonly as “sea scorpions.” Dave is interested in how they used their eyes and claws to hunt prey in Paleozoic seas.

Eurypterus, a classic sea scorpion. Left: A gorgeous fossil, photo by Ryan Somma; Right: Artistic reconstruction by Obsidian Soul. Images from Wikimedia Commons.

Adriane Lam

Adriane is a PhD candidate at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She studies microscopic organisms called foraminifera and is a creator of the educational science website Time Scavengers.

Places to find Adriane:
Twitter: @ForamWhisperer
Time Scavengers
Time Scavengers is also on Facebook and Twitter

Foraminifera are microscopic, hard-shelled aquatic protists (so, not technically invertebrates). Adriane uses them to explore how the ocean  have evolved over the past ~20 million years.

Top left: One of Adriane’s favorite forams, Globoconella puncticulata from the Pliocene/Pleistocene. Photo by Nicholas Venti; Top right: Adriane examining sedimentary layers on the JOIDES Resolution research vessel. Photo from IODP; Bottom: Adriane and fellow Time Scavengers creator Jen Bauer with a slab of ancient ripples they found in Ohio. Photos provided by Adriane Lam.

Alycia Stigall

Dr. Stigall is a professor at Ohio University and head of the Stigall Research Lab. She studies a group of very ancient shelled animals called brachiopods to investigate evolution and environmental change in the deep past.

Places to find Alycia:
The Stigall Lab Website
Twitter: @Alycia_Stigall

Brachiopods are two-shelled animals that look a lot like bivalves (clams, oysters, etc.) from the outside, but are a totally different group with a totally different internal structure. They are rare in the modern world, but were incredibly diverse during the Paleozoic Era.

Left: Dr. Stigall pointing out a Middle Ordovician brachiopod in Estonia. Right: A slab of beautiful brachiopods from Utah, also Middle Ordovician. All of these brachiopods date back to the Great Ordovician Biodiversification Event! Photos provided by Alycia Stigall.

Chris Mah

Dr. Mah is a research associate at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. He studies the evolution and diversity of sea stars (=starfish or Asteroidea), past and present!

Places to find Chris:
Twitter: @echinoblog
The Echinoblog

Starfish are echinoderms with at least five arms around a central disk. They go back in the fossil record almost to the beginning of the Paleozoic Era, and have – and still do – come in an incredible diversity of looks and lifestyles.

Left: A modern-day red-knobbed starfish, Protoreaster linckii; Right: An Ordovician fossil starfish, Promopalaeaster, photo by James St. John. Images from Wikimedia Commons

Ranjeev Epa

Ranjeev is a PhD student at the University of Missouri who studies evidence of predation and parasitism on the shells of ancient bivalves.

Places to find Ranjeev:
Twitter @RanjeevEpa

Bivalves are a group of molluscs with two shells that contain a squishy inside, including all clams, mussels, oysters, and more. They come in an incredible array of shapes, sizes, and lifestyles, and have for many millions of years.

Some of Ranjeev’s favorite bivalves, from Sri Lanka. Spiny oysters on the left and right, and scallops in the middle. Images from Ranjeev Epa.

And that brings our Spotlight series to a close! If you enjoyed it, please let us know and maybe we’ll do more!

If you enjoyed this topic and want more like it, check out these related episodes:

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