Sunday, July 5, 2015

Hello and Introduction

Howdy all!
I'm new to the team here at the Prehistoric Pub and to blogging in general. I figured I would introduce myself to you all and let you get to know me!
I'm Rob Gay and I am a paleontologist in Arizona. Ever since I was a kid I have loved dinosaurs and other prehistoric wildlife and knew that this is what I wanted to be. Flash forward to the present and here I am - living the dream as it were.

Here's me, contemplating the dream.

My research has focused on the Late Triassic and Early Jurassic of the Colorado Plateau (you can look at some of my publications here). I am particularly interested in how the terrestrial faunas of what is now the American Southwest were structured 50 million years after the Permo-Triassic extinction (the largest in the history of the world) and how this structure changed and adapted to the "new world" of the Jurassic after the Triassic-Jurassic extinction.

I am currently engaged in several projects related to this overall line of research. I am doing a study on collections biases in the Kayenta Formation to see how our view of this ecosystem may be skewed. This may in turn impact our understanding of how these ecosystems actually functioned. This might seem a minor point but if we want to see how biological systems recover from extinction then we need to know what the systems actually looked like and how they functioned.

I also have been working for several years now in the Chinle Formation of southeastern Utah, both with a team from the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm and the Natural History Museum, as well as with a team from my high school paleontology program - the only one at a public school in the country. The Chinle Formation is well known in Arizona (at the Petrified Forest) and in New Mexico (at places like Ghost Ranch) for the amazing variety of life from the dawn of the age of dinosaurs. Utah is also well known for its prehistoric life, but the Late Triassic Period has been rather underrepresented. Between work in Lisbon Valley and at Comb Ridge we are starting to piece together just what this area looked like 203 million years ago. We have identified new and unusual types of reptiles as well as documenting the presence of a plant-eating crocodile-like reptile known as Crosbysaurus. In the case of Crosbysaurus, this is the first time it has been reported from the state of Utah.
The tooth of Crosbysaurus from Comb Ridge. Abbreviations: Ap, apex; DD, distal denticles; MD, mesial denticles; RP, resorption pit. Scale = 1 mm. Image is from Gay and St. Aude (2015), CC-BY 4.0
I am very pleased with our Comb Ridge work in general because it is all with my high school students. They get a chance to experience real-world hands-on science by being involved in all aspects of vertebrate paleontology - including publication! I know I will blog a lot more about this in the future so I won't belabor it here!

In addition to all of my paleontology work I am also a dog-parent of two awesome beasts. I like playing video games. I enjoy craft beers; I am on a saison kick right now due to it being summer, but IPAs are my thing generally. I'm looking forward to letting more people know about my students' research, my research, and generally interacting with folks on here. Cheers!

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