By Ian Underwood and Paul Germano

The MSU students are back in China, where they explore the culture, look for fossils, and study dinosaur eggs in the laboratory.

Selected college students from across Montana travel to the Zhejiang Province of China on a National Science Fund program from May 17 - June 19, 2012. The students will be exposed to the culture and people of China as a way of broadening their worldview. The cultural exposure is secondary, however, to the research and study of dinosaur eggs at the Zhejiang Natural History Museum. This now marks the third year for this program and the 2012 research team consists of Dr. David Varricchio, Hannah Wilson, Michael Bustamante, Ian Underwood, Paul Germano, Heather Davis, Anita Moore-Nall, Bob Rader, Danny Barta, and Christian Heck

Ian Underwood takes a hand lens to a spheroolithid eggshell

Ian Underwood takes a hand lens to a spheroolithid eggshell

The 2010 and 2011 research teams have both built a solid base of data for eggshell thickness throughout the egg. Our project aim is to build a framework for analyzing this data and organizing it in a way to compare various regions of the egg.

Our first step is to organize the actual data left from past research teams and become familiar with how and where the measurements were made. Upon organizing the data, we will construct a method for dividing the egg into sectors in order to compare the eggshell thickness of these sectors.

There are various difficulties to this project, mostly from interpreting past research. The other obstacle comes from the sectors of the egg. We obviously can't draw on the egg so we are attempting to use a computer program to apply a grid to a photo of the egg. Using the grid/photo and past data we can assess how eggshell thickness changes.

Of course, we are basing our radial sectors around the compression ridge (when present) so our data could be misinterpreted. We are currently working on a solution to this obstacle, and a way to correlate measurements across the specimens that aren't crushed.

About the Authors:

Ian Underwood and Paul Germano work like a well-oiled machine, taking measurements and documentation

Ian Underwood and Paul Germano work like a well-oiled machine, taking measurements and documentation

Ian Underwood: I grew up in San Rafael, California, which is just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. I transferred to Montana Tech this last year to study Geological Engineering after working in the health care industry for 4 years. I am an amateur photographer, an avid outdoorsman and an Eagle Scout. This will be my first time travelling overseas as well as my first experience partaking in professional research.

Paul Germano: Paul is interested in paleontology, especially the study of dinosaurs and other ancient lifeforms. Some hobbies

Paul enjoys doing are cooking, hiking, reading, and drawing. Paul is looking forward to this trip in China to gain

some experience and to learn how paleontology works.

Previously in this series:

MSU China Paleontology Expedition: Team Progress Update

MSU Dinosaurs: An Egg By Any Other Name…

MSU Dinosaurs: introducing the Hatching Window Team

MSU Dinosaurs: Using Taphonomy to Further Understand Clutch Arrangement

MSU Dinosaurs: deformations in eggs