With Easter just behind us, eggs (usually the chocolate variety) are surely on most people's minds. So are things that hatch out of eggs, such as chickens. Eggs are a pretty fascinating biological structure if you think about it long enough - they're basically a mini life support system. Eggs have a long fossil record as well; they're known from many dinosaurs for example, as well as other animals that lay hard-shelled eggs. But what about temnospondyl eggs? Well unfortunately, temnospondyl eggs were almost certainly like the eggs of other "lower vertebrates" (fish + amphibians), which today, fall into the category of "soft tissues," which is to say that they don't have any mineralized components like in bones, teeth, or eggshells. Instead, they look more or less like gelatinous blobs with the developing embryo inside. Because most fossilization occurs through permineralization where the original minerals formed by the animal while it was alive are replaced by other minerals that follow the original structure, the absence of mineralized tissues in structures such as hair, feathers, skin, and in this case, some eggs, makes them unlikely to preserve.
Had to skip last week because of a hectic last week of classes schedule, but I'm back this week with a blog post that's near and dear to my heart and that's been on my mind a lot between doing some collections work with Aaron Kufner (PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) a few weeks back and going out to Madison this week to give a talk on the subject matter at their student symposium. It's almost the two-year anniversary of my first paper too! For a lot of folks, you already know what I'm going to talk about, but for the uninitiated, I'll be talking about my favourite temnospondyls this week - metoposaurids - more specifically all the problems with a particular taxon, Apachesaurus. I've published several papers on this taxon and probably seem like I have a vendetta against it at this point... Because I didn't even have a website when most of these papers were published, let alone blog, this is also a great chance to read up on some of my existing publications outside of my dissertation work!
About the blog
A blog on all things temnospondyl written by someone who spends too much time thinking about them. Covers all aspects of temnospondyl paleobiology and ongoing research (not just mine).