News from the Homefront

Hard to believe that not only is the Spring Semester completed and the Class of ’12 have “left the building,” ala Elvis, but Tara, Dan, and Kody now are done with their second week of summer research!  Much has gone on in the interim between the now and the time we returned to the ‘States.  The BIG news is that Rose and Billy deKlerk excavated the vertebrate skull she found in January after an initial attempt where they were rained out of the field with mini-floods.  Yes, mini-flooding that laid low lying areas in the Karoo under a few inches of water.  But, another week or so later, they were successful at relocating and excavating a skull that approaches 40 cm in length.

Billy deKlerk jacketing the January SkullOnce returned to the Albany Museum in Grahamstown, the excitement was high because few new skulls have been found or recovered in this area in recent years.  Late in March, the following image appeared in my mailbox:

JanPlan vertebrate skull It’s impressive.  You can see the eye orbitals by the Swiss Army knife for scale, and the snout region in the foreground.  There seem to be two large canines which may be clues to the systematic affinity of the long gone, extinct animal.

John Geissman has been plugging away (no pun intended) with the oriented cores to assess the paleomagnetic properties of this year’s measured sections, and Sandra Kamo continues to process the ash beds for zircons which are not as common as we’d like.  I suspect that our mantra for now is that “it’s not nice to fuss with Mother Nature.”  More later….


About Robert Gastaldo

Professor Gastaldo is Whipple-Coddington Professor of Geology and served as Department Chair from 1999/2000 academic year, upon his initial appointment, until 30 June 2012. He was awarded a Forschungspreis (Research Prize) from the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung, Bonn, in 1991, and returned to Germany as a short-term visiting scientist in 2012. He has been awarded two Fulbright Fellowships. The first appointment was at the Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Utrecht, The Netherlands; the second is at Rhodes University, Grahamstown, South Africa. He is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and the Paleontological Society, served as co-Editor of SEPM's journal PALAIOS and on the society's Executive Council, and continues as a reviewer and funding-panel member for various U.S. and international grant agencies. Professor Gastaldo's research focus is in the plant-fossil record and the response(s) of terrestrial ecosystems to perturbation, and engages undergraduate students early in their careers in original research endeavors. His wife, Elvira, is one of the Colby Quilt Club advisers, and she assists departments across campus with temporary, short-term assignments. Together, they have 3 grown sons who have pursued their own career paths outside of academia.
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