NAPC abstract and AMNH

Our abstract for the North American Paleontological Convention is just about officially done! All I have left to do is sleep on it, read it again, fix the mistakes that I missed tonight, submit it, and then email the people in charge to let them know about the italics (the online form does not accept formatting).

In other news, this week I’m bumming around the American Museum of Natural History in New York, courtesy of my advisor. By “bumming around,” I really mean spending long hours photographing fossil freshwater mussels under hot lights. It’s boring, but someone has to do it, and I get a low-cost trip in the bargain. If we get done within the next few days, I’ll hopefully get some time to scan or photograph part of the modern freshwater mussel collection.

Why scan? I’m primarily interested in the so-called “plain Jane” genera, or those without distinguishing internal or external features (typically this means the edentulous ones, but any poorly preserved specimen can be missing important characters). Rather than setting up a camera, lights, scale bar, label for every specimen I want, I’ve found it much easier to lay a series of single valves on a flatbed scanner and push the button.

The NAPC abstract was interesting to write, mostly because my intention changed halfway through (which may be obvious). Rather than the methodological study I was expecting on quantitative morphometrics, it looks like I’m going to be doing more with paleobiogeography (more on this after the abstract is accepted). This is fitting, since I’m starting my PhD on the paleobiogeography of freshwater mussels, but perhaps it was a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts.

Since I’ve got this week of little to do in the evenings beside sit in the hotel room, I may indeed get some other work done. Tonight’s task is to finish up the third version of a manuscript based on my Bachelor’s thesis. Wish me luck!