This has been a long time in coming and I do hope I will pickup some new readers here, so it seems practical to give myself an introduction to you. I started blogging briefly around 2 years ago and gave up thaks to a lack of motivation before getting more and more involved in the Dinobase forums and eventually blogging on there heavily. However, the limitations were obvious (no RSS, no images, unwieldy comments system etc.) and it was always my intention to move on once I had managed to get past the, errrr, internet difficulties of my current host country. Now here I am, and with a bucketload of old blog posts dragged over, given a general spruce up and a few photos added. Even if you have read everything I have done before, its worth a quick peek to see the new images and if you are new here, its worth a trip to the old site to see all the posts that did not make the move, and the original comments of those that did. My blog tends to be pretty technical a lot of the time, so might not be accessible to many readers, though I often deal with the wider issues in science, research and education as well as musing on archosaurs.
Onto the main thrust of this ‘first’ post – who I am and what I do. Well, the name at the top of the page should be a give away, and the general topic is quite clear too. Still “archosaurs” is a big topic and there is lots to do within this huge and important group of reptiles, so perhaps its easiest to talk about how I got here.
I have always been obsessed and fascinated by animals and it really was inevitable that I would end up in academia, just a question of when and how. While at high school I was working in London Zoo as a volunteer keeper ad got to ‘play’ with giraffe, okapi, rhino, oryx and others on my weekends. My batchelors degree was in zoology where I specialised in locomotion and behaviour more than anything (with lots of ecology, cladistics and fish biology). This was followed by a Masters in taxonomy (with a healthy sprinkling of cladistics, macroevolution and conservation) and then a chance twist in the course of my masters thesis led me into looking at dinosaur evolution and thence onto a PhD with the great Mike Benton in vertebrate palaeontology where I focused on the origin of pterosaurs. From here I got a postdoctoral position with Oli Rauhut in Munich working on sauropod phylogenetics and after that was lucky enough to land another position in Beijing with the legendary Xu Xing working on theropod ecology and evolution.
That is about as short as I can keep it really. As for my research themes, they are varied and I do tend to jump around a great many subjects, having all kinds of pots boiling and working with quite an array of collaborators on various aspects of archosaurian evolution. The pterosaurs and theropods form the primary subects of my research, and to them I a happy to analyse factors like ecology, evolution, phylogenetics, size changes, behaviour, functional morphology and mechanics, sexual selection, and good old taxonomy. It keeps me busy.
Outside of the fundamentals of research I am very keen of science communication, and getting to grips with the public. As a result I founded and run Ask A Biologist (which is rather self explanatory) and act as an administrator on Dinobase, in addition to writing this blog, and I still have a few more projects that are gathering momentum and I hope will be launched soon.
That should keep people going for now. It just leaves me to say ‘welcome’, plug in an RSS, drop in a comment or two and take a look around. Oh, and thanks to Luis Rey for the use of his magnificant artwork for the banner.