Skip to main content Skip to secondary navigation
Main content start

Sai Panneerselvam

I had a blast-oid!

posted Aug 13, 2013

We have finally reached the last day of the Earth Sciences Summer Internship and I had a blast-oid! :)

These last weeks have comprised of listening to lab meetings on tuesdays, finishing our projects, submitting our abstracts, and designing our posters.

After finishing our projects, we spent the last few days taking pictures, playing a game of football (students vs. staff), killing the rest of the interns in the game of Mafia, and learning about all the adventures of the General Program! We had a lot of fun. :)

On the last day of the internship, I loved listening to the presentations. The experiences that the other group of interns had undergone seemed so interesting! I wish I had more time to hear about all their adventures!

This summer was AWESOME and for those of you who are thinking about applying next year, you should! The Earth Sciences Internship was rewarding and exciting: I learned so much about the variety of fields that are a part of the environmental sciences major. I also was able to work with scientists and help them conduct research. I enjoyed meeting and working with such a diverse group of people and I thank them/you, (if any of the interns/supervisors are reading this), for making this summer so memorable! Can’t wait to see you all in December at the AGU meeting (American Geophysical Union)!

This picture just about sums up all the fun we all had in room 220. All the HoL interns are doing the Bivalve gang sign!

coding with R

posted July 26, 2013

Lately, the History of Life interns have been working on our final projects to present at the AGU conference. This week has been full of using the statistical program, R and collecting ostracod data. We have diligently been working on our project, trying to see whether Bergmann’s rule, which states that the size of an organism increases as the temperature decreases, or Cope’s rule, which states that the size an organism just increases over time, becomes dominant in a particular species. We are looking at the class echinoidea, which includes sea urchins and sand dollars during the Mesozoic Era.

We chose the Mesozoic because Echinoids were flourishing and that era, from 252-66 mya, was experiencing varied types of climate: hot, cold, mild, everything possible! Since we are looking at temperature and body size, we thought that the influx of temperatures would show a diverse amount of data. After writing up our proposal and Noel approving it, we started working. It was a very long process.

First, we had to sort the data and pick out all the echinoids in Excel. Since CO2 has a direct correlation to temperature (as CO2 levels increase, temperature increases), we started graphing CO2 and body lengths on R. I won’t tell you our results just yet—you’ll have to wait and see—but they are not what we expected! So we are still compiling more data, like latitude and longitude and we can’t wait to present!!

Here are some pictures of our code that’s like over 300 lines!!


Field Trip: Brighton Beach and Bean Hollow

posted July 06, 2013

This Tuesday, we changed up the usual pace: instead of collecting data and measuring fossils, we went to Brighton beach and Bean Hollow. A day in the History of Life program is filled with measures of fossils in books, but on our field trip, we were able to see them intact in their natural habitat! J

At Brighton beach, which approximately dated to 1.8-5.3 ma, (pretty recent), we were saw thousands of fossils preserved in the outcrop, which is essentially a visible rock formation. In addition to seeing preserved fossils in their natural habitat, we were able to the homes of ghost shrimp. Ghost shrimp are unique critters which burrow into the earth and in order to keep their tunnels open, the shrimp line the sides of the burrow with their fecal pellets. Also, in some the crevices, we were able to see isopods, the living relatives of trilobites. Trilobites, which roamed the earth many a moon ago, went extinct after the Permian, had compound eyes and dozens of tiny wriggling feet. The isopods share remarkable resemblance to trilobites compared to any other marine invertebrate. This particular beach was home to thousands of fossils—of specimen and their tracks (trace fossils).

Pebble Beach was much, much older than Brighton beach. As soon as we arrived, we noticed several differences from the previous beach. First, the rocks on the beach were shifted and instead of standing upright, the rocks were on their sides, suggesting that this beach had to be older than 10 million years. The other interesting aspect of this beach was that it was covered with not only sand, but with pebbles. Where did these pebbles come from? We were all puzzled with this phenomenon and even while exploring the intertidal zone, I was curious to find the origination of these pebbles. Turns out that the pebbles were fragments from conglomerate rocks, sedimentary rocks with sharp angles, which were formed with erosion!

Another major difference between Bean Hollow and Brighton beach was the intertidal zone. We were actually able to see actual living echinoderms like sea urchins in the intertidal zone. These animals, including various types of crabs and gastropods (snails), were well adapted to their environment. With waves constantly crashing down on them, some these animals, like barnacles are able to stick on the rocks without being swept away. Even the crabs were able to hide in between the tight crevices quite easily! Unfortunately, we were unable to see any asterozoa (starfish), another animal apart of the echinoderm phylum.

The field trip was an excellent getaway: the weather was cool, the ocean was beautiful, and it was a great way to learn about the formation of fossils and experience the habitat of these neat organisms! I can’t wait for our next field trip!