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Melody Weber

Final Blog

posted August 08, 2014

In the past few weeks, me and my partner, Nicole, have been working hard on our very own research project. While we were still collecting ostracod data, we were were given enough time to do our own personal research. Both of us had found Hunt's paper about ostracod body size and temperature very interesting , so we decided to do more research on the topic.

In his paper, Hunt described how ostracod anteroposterior length seemed to increase with colder temperatures for some ostracod species. Other papers that we read also described how the average body size if organisms increased over time with higher oxygen levels. In our own research, we decided that we wanted to further research how variables such as oxygen and temperature affected ostracod size.

Originally, Nicole and I were planning on studying how average ostracod body size varied with oxygen and temperature over time. However, when we realized that there is very little information on exact temperatures and oxygen levels from millions of years ago, we decided to focus on modern ostracod species instead. In the end, we decided to study how variables such as temperature, oxygen and salinity affected ostracod body size in the Gulf of California and the Pacific Coast of North America. Although we studied only modern species, the data we collected could tell us how ostracods have evolved.

After weeks of hard work, we discovered that the ostracods we studied seemed to increase in size with colder temperatures. Higher salinity levels also seemed to decrease ostracod size too. On the other hand, there was almost no correlation between ostracod size and oxygen levels.

Our finished poster!

Unfortunately, our internship has now drawn to an end. While our internship was only a few months long, I have truly enjoyed every day working with my fellow interns and professors. I would like to thank Noel and my fellow interns for making this internship truly wonderful. I hope I can see all of you again at the AGU meeting!

Camping Trip!

posted July 21, 2014

Last week, our class went on on a exciting camping trip to Pinnacles! With its large sloping mountains, this reserve is famous for its beautiful geologic formations. In the past, this area had experienced multiple explosive volcanic eruptions. Although there are no active volcanos here to this day, evidence of these eruptions remains in the rocks all around the Pinnacles formation.

Rock formation

During the first half of our trip, we decided to take an exhausting 5 mile hike to see the local geologic formations. Because of volcanic eruptions long ago, we found ash in many of the rocks across the mountain. Although the hike was exhausting, the hike was definitely worth it!

On the second day of our camping trip, we drove to the Monterey formations to collect our own fossils! The monetary formation contains shells and crabs from the Miocene era that had been preserved for about four to five million years. Using pick axes and our bare hands, we were able to collect many fossils!


One thing that I noticed was that most of fossils we found were right at the surface of the rock, even when we had to crack ricks in half to find them. I found this unusual because I didn't expect the fossils to anyways be exactly on the surface, as the crab pictured above. When I talked to Noel, he explained to me that as the organism is preserved, the organism creates a weak point as the sediment is preserved. When rocks fracture, they usually split at their weak points, which is why small fossils are often found on the surface of rocks. Although our trip is now over, I will never forget this fossil excavating experience.

Adventures in Braun Hall

posted June 30, 2014

The first couple weeks of my History of Life internship has been very exciting for me. As someone who is interested in perusing a field of science in the future, this internship has provided my great information about paleontology. Now what exactly is this History of Life internship? On a basic note, we are studying how the size of animals have changed over time, and how evolution has affected the size of these animals. To be specific, we are studying very very small invertebrates, called ostracods.


Commonly known as seed shrimp, these arthropods have their bodies enclosed in two hard cases, giving them the appearance of a small swimming clam. Interesting fact about these arthropods is that the male sperm cell is actually six times the length of the ostracod itself!

By measuring and studying various species of ostracod, we are hoping to discover how size had played a role in the evolution for these species.

To answer these kinds of questions, abundant data must be collected, and it has been our job to do so.

However, this internship hasn't been all about data collection! Our instructor, Noel, has been working hard with us to teach us about the various aspects of paleontology. In the past couple weeks, we have been learning about the creation of fossils, and what type of rocks they are usually found in.

The fossil pictured above is actually a giant ostracod!

Although collecting data can be exhausting at times, it is definitely worth the effort!