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Howdy Pt. 2!

Hello there!

In a continuation of getting to know your PLOS Paleo Community Editors (read introductory posts by fellow editors Jon and Andy), let me introduce myself! My name is Sarah, and I, along with Jon and Andy, am very excited to provide you with a new resource to get the latest in paleo community news and tools as well as highlight the exciting research that is being published in PLOS!

I am relatively new to the science communication scene (I am a contributor to the University of Kansas Biodiversity Institute blog), but I love conveying new ideas and research to colleagues as well as the general public. I am excited about paleontology and science, and I love sharing the excitement of discovery with others. And I think it is critical to create an open, transparent, and communicative atmosphere in order for science to progress, which is why I hope that the PLOS Paleo Community can be a venue where we can feature awesome research as well as foster discussion of important topics that impact all researchers in the field.

I am a PhD student at the University of Kansas, and my research focuses on the evolutionary relationships of Early Mesozoic (mostly Late Triassic) ray-finned fishes, and how their morphology relates to their diet, behavior, and ecological niche. My most recent paper featured a Late Triassic fish from Utah, Hemicalypterus weiri, and its unusual multicuspid teeth that were likely used for benthic scraping, feeding primarily on algae. (You can read more about it here)

Three teeth in the upper jaws of the Late Triassic fish Hemicalypterus, each tooth has multiple cusps, which helped scrape algae off of a benthic substrate
Three teeth in the upper jaws of the Late Triassic fish Hemicalypterus, each tooth has multiple cusps, which helped scrape algae off of a benthic substrate

But I wasn’t always a fish person. I grew up in Utah, the proverbial mecca of dinosaur paleontology, and like most paleontologists, I was obsessed with dinosaurs and fossils and just never grew out of it. While an undergraduate at Southern Utah University, I began working at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site, which houses an impressive amount of Early Jurassic dinosaur tracks, fossil plants, fishes, and invertebrates. I went there hoping to work on dinosaur tracks, and instead found myself immersed in the world of fossil fishes and have never looked back. (Fun fact: The “gombessa” in my Twitter handle @gombessagirl is the Swahili name for the coelacanth, and like my Twitter handle and research interests suggest, I really do love fishes, and I will work hard in this community to make sure we get some non-tetrapod love!)

It was while working at the dinosaur tracksite that I also found my love of science communication via creating new exhibits, leading and developing educational programs, and helping build the nation’s first paleontological site stewardship program with the Bureau of Land Management, a program that promotes conservation and protection of important and sensitive paleontological sites.

I look forward to this new venture with the PLOS Paleo Community, because the paleontology community in general is fun, engaging, and full of awesome and wonderful people! I am excited to work with Andy and Jon, as well as many future contributors to the PLOS Paleo blog (one of which might be YOU! More on that later!). In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter as @gombessagirl, and I look forward to chatting with all of you online as well as the upcoming SVP Meeting in Dallas. Feel free to contact me with any questions or ideas! And use the link on the right margin of this site to sign up for our monthly newsletter!

And don’t miss our inaugural Reddit AMA with David Frayer on a recent study published on Neanderthal jewelry. It will be this Wednesday (Sept 23) at 1 pm ET. More details to come soon!



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