I have some great news! Just over a week ago, I went to Southampton for a PhD interview for a project on mass estimation in pterosaurs. That weekend, I was offered the project and some funding, which I officially accepted on Friday. I will start sometime at the beginning of October, and will be moving to Southampton probably in September. I’m really excited about it as I get to do some work that was directly related to some cool stuff I found in my Master’s!
The project will be supervised by a combination of Bristol and Southampton supervisors, with Gareth Dyke being the main supervisor. As the project will rely heavily on CT scans, we’re hoping to take advantage of the excellent CT scanner that Southampton has, and I’ve managed to secure access to a few specimens already for scanning. It will expand on what I did for my MSc with Colin Palmer (who will be involved in the PhD as well), which was developing a method of estimating bone mass using CT scans, which resulted in some pretty interesting finds. The masses for the bones we measured were about twice as heavy as what previous methods had found, which is very interesting. That paper is currently in review, and we are confident that it will be successful!
This PhD will expand on the MSc work by looking at more bones, and more importantly, more groups and taxa of pterosaurs. This way, we should be able to gain some insight into the bone mass of several different animals, but also how this may be related to phylogeny, and how bone and body mass may have evolved throughout the Pterosauria. Once bone mass has been determined, I am hoping to apply some modelling techniques to get an idea of soft tissue mass, using some of the muscular reconstructions in the literature.
All-in-all, I think I will be very busy for the next few years, learning all about pterosaur bones and mass. I’m really excited that I have finally sorted out a PhD, and that it’s doing something that I am very interested in! Stay tuned for more details coming soon 🙂