Meet the family

25 September 2009. Edmonton, AB, Canada,

The field activities of the IVPP-LACM party have officially come to a conclusion in 2009; even though individuals of our team may take trips throughout the world (Dr. Li Qiang is going to visit Russia next month), large-scale expedition will not resume until 2010.

That means all of us are now back in the office and/or laboratory, and thus begins our "other" life as indoor paleontologists. This is the time to reflect and research.

I have an ongoing project examining the skull biomechanics of extinct canids, the group so dear to Dr. Xiaoming Wang's heart (after all, he wrote a whole book about it). After scanning specimens from various museums over the past several years, a decent skull lineup of canid representatives is now ready to be analyzed.

[from left: Hesperocyon gregarius, Mesocyon coryphaeus, Borophagus secundus, Epicyon haydeni, and Canis lupus]

Five skulls of basal (Hesperocyon) to very derived (Borophagus) to modern (Canis) dogs are being analyzed digitally to reveal how their skulls are (or aren't) adapted to bone-cracking. The results will be useful in comparisons with the hyaenids which have extraordinary adaptations for consuming bone.