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Reisverslag The title that I wanted to put here is too long.
15 januari 2017
The title that I wanted to put here is too long.
…Is what I do at the paleontology department of Vienna’s university.
Allright, so this week was the first week of my internship and up until so far this place is really blowing my mind. My internship has only been running for five days but up until so far this week has been just as exiting and inspiring as my internship at Naturalis - only with more options. In this week alone I have studied my main subject for two days and then have been reconstructing 3D models with Amira 6.1.1 for the other three days. In between all of this have been introduced to multiple students, specialists and have seen a lot of stuff that I was not expecting to be involved in.
Last Monday I got introduced to the department by my supervisor, Univ. Dr. Professor Jürgen Kriwet - a specialist in the field of sharks. He was showing me around and during the tour he told me that if I would like to work on something other than my main project (which is reconstructing 3D models of the inner ear of extant gymnures), all I have to do is ask. I am allowed to prepare fossils, help other students with their research projects, help out with taking care of the fish (they keep a pufferfish, lungfish and three bamboo sharks at the department) and so forth. He also invited me to come along to Haus de Meeres, an aquazoo in Vienna with which the department holds close relations for research. Right of the bat It became clear to me that all meals are free and it’s all you can eat when it comes to feeding my curiosity.
Dr. Cathrin Pfaff is a mammal specialist for and with whom I am doing the reconstruction work. She is also a very friendly person and literally told me that I can do whatever I want at the department. During one of our talks I casually mentioned to her that I love bears and the next day I was introduced to Professor Rabeder who is another mammal specialist, focusing on cave bears (†Ursus spelaeus). He showed me the cave bear collection (amongst other fossil fauna) and was also very friendly and inviting towards my curiosity.
Last Friday I discovered that there is a 6.2 version available for Amira in which some of the bugs are fixed. I notified Kai, the IT guy, and he went off to order the new system for the department. I asked Professor Kriwet if he had something to do In the meantime and he said that he and Iris, a student of his, where heading over to the life sciences department. Iris needed nanoscans of shark teeth that are about a pinprick in size. The teeth where discovered by accident when students of another department where looking through deep-sea sediment for analysis.
While Iris and Prof. Kriwet where telling him about the specifications about the scans (angles, what teeth, etc.) he was asking all these questions ranging from from where the teeth originated, what species they were from, complicated stuff that about the microbiological elements of the composition of the teeth, etc. Everything I do or get invited to results in learning something new.
During this week I also spotted some Gargano material in Catherin’s office. The material belongs to the Gargano department of Naturalis where I did my last internship and still like to do some work in my spare time. The scans that I am deriving the 3D reconstruction from originate from this department as well. It is really motivating to see such a link between departments appear in a place so many miles from home. Not only might I be able to continue the work that I do in Vienna when I am back in The Netherlands, but It also really gives me the feeling that I am following the right trail of breadcrumbs.
For a short little week a lot has happened. In fact; except for the introduction all of the above happened in just three days. I spent the first two days sitting behind my laptop, studying the workings of mammalian inner ears and looking up all the information I could find on Gymnures, hedgehogs and shrews. It’s almost as if I found the magic lamp of internships. All I have to do is ask for something and my wish gets granted. Tomorrow I’m going to help dissect a ray and on Tuesday I am joining a seminar on pterodactyls. There are so many options available that if forget to keep my eyes on the main objective, I might get a little lost in exploring different fields of interest. I didn’t really know what to expect from this place but whatever my expectations might have been, they would have been positively crushed under the monolithic size and weight of possibility that the department has to offer.
I also uploaded a video with a little overview of my main project. Explanation is in dutch because lazy. Only thing I forgot mentioning about the inner ear model in the video is why we reconstruct these: It's because the size and bow of the semi-circular canals relate to types of locomotion in different species. Species with relatively slow locomotion (like sloths) have notably smaller arcs in the bows of these semi-circular canals than species that move faster and more agile (like gymnures). Analyzing and comparing these factors to other species like squirrels and glirids can tell us more about the ecology of gymnures.
Thanks for reading and see y'all next week!
Foto's bij verslag (24)
18 januari 2017 15:50 | Door: Patsy