PhD Happenings

So it’s been a while since I got around to posting on my blog… I’ve now been working at my PhD for 9 months (holy crap I can’t believe it’s been that long), and it is going well so far. 

I got my first paper officially published about a month ago on air space proportion (ASP) in pterosaurs. I’ll talk a bit more about that soon and cover the details of the paper, but it’s looking at quantifying pneumaticity (air sacs in bones) in pterosaurs using CT scans. Basically, degree of pneumaticity changes throughout the bone (at least it does in pterosaurs, and it probably does in other things), which is something you can’t tell unless you look at the entire bone, which most fossil studies don’t do. This might affect how we use pneumaticity to understand certain aspects of biomechanics. If you’re interested, the paper is open access and freely available from Plos One here. Full reference is:

Martin EG, Palmer C (2014) Air Space Proportion in Pterosaur Limb Bones Using Computed Tomography and Its Implications for Previous Estimates of Pneumaticity. PLoS ONE 9(5): e97159. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097159

For what it’s worth – I would recommend publishing in Plos One to anyone looking to get something dealt with quickly. My paper was accepted in 2 months, published in 3, which is much more than I can say for my actual first accepted manuscript which will see a year between acceptance and publication, and no advanced online publication (which I guess isn’t even that bad compared to other horror stories I’ve heard). They were great to deal with, and everyone involved was just really good. I enjoyed it!


This project was something I started thanks to Matt Wedel, and plan on continuing to look at in my PhD, along with bone mass and flight mechanics of pterosaurs, mainly using CT scans. I’ve already got a bit more data on both bone mass and ASP that I’ll be presenting later this month at the European Association of Vertebrate Palaeontology annual meeting in Italy. After that, I’m heading to Germany to do some museum visits and bring back a load of specimens that are generously being loaned for CT scanning. Anyone who knows my research and has read my blog probably knows by know that I am a big fan of CT. I can’t stress enough how awesome CT stuff is. If you have material (especially pterosaur or bird because I’m biased), scan it! I know it’s expensive, but if you have the means to do it, there is so much you can do with CT scans. Then, share them with me. Ha, just kidding (well not really…).

What else is happening, you might ask? Well it turns out, quite a lot. We hosted Progressive Palaeontology a few weeks ago, a conference for early career palaeontologists (mainly students), here in Southampton, which I helped to organise. It turned out to be a pretty big success with more abstracts being submitted than ever before. We had a good (but rather wet and cold) trip to the Isle of Wight where we found some ankylosaur armour and neat foot casts. 

Iguanodontid foot cast from the Isle of Wight. Photo by Rosie Sheward.

I’m also going to be helping out with organising the semi-annual pterosaur conference Flugsaurier 2015 in Portsmouth (Aug 26-30, 2015), and SVPCA 2015 here in Southampton (Aug. 29-Sept. 3/4, 2015). It’ll be a busy year of conference preparation I think! Really it’s just a busy year all together… In about a month I’m heading to LA to spend a week with one of my supervisors, Mike Habib. From there, I head home to Canada for a few weeks, where I’ll get to go to Grande Prairie and do some fieldwork at a Pachyrhinosaurus bone bed with my old group. I’m super excited to get to do this and spend some time with the Currie lab. Then it’s off to SVPCA in York in September, and SVP in Berlin in November, interspersed with research trips to numerous museums.

Basically, I’ve got a lot going on right now. I’m currently working on 3 manuscripts on completely different things, only 1 of which related to my PhD. Things are a bit hectic and showing no signs of slowing down… Watch this space for more news!

Oh ya, also, I got married! Future publications and things will be Elizabeth Martin-Silverstone. I’ve finally made the decision to hyphenate, which has been a long and stressful decision, believe me. But I’ve made it, it’s done, so that’s what it’ll be from now on!

Until next time…

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