chameleon

Principle Investigators

Patrick M. O'ConnorPatrick M. O'Connor (Ohio University) is a vertebrate paleontologist and comparative biologist interested in archosaurian paleobiology, particularly the evolution of birds and dinosaurs. His previous research on the biogeographic history of Cretaceous-age vertebrates from Madagascar motivated him to identify contemporaneous continental depositional settings on the African continent. Pat leads paleontological exploration and excavation activities in the middle Cretaceous Galula Formation of Tanzania. He is currently describing novel crocodyliform and avian taxa collected on recent RRBP expeditions.

Nancy J. StevensNancy J. Stevens (Ohio University) is a vertebrate paleontologist and functional morphologist interested in mammalian evolution during the Paleogene-Neogene interval. Her field research efforts aim to expand sampling of the Cenozoic vertebrate record of Afro-Arabia. Nancy leads paleontological exploration and excavation activities in the Nsungwe Formation and Lake Beds megasequence in the Rukwa Rift Basin. She recently described two new species of primates, and two other micromammals (a hyracoid and a rodent) from the Nsungwe Formation. She is currently studying novel macroscelideans, rodents and primates discovered on recent expeditions.

Eric M. RobertsEric M. Roberts (James Cook University) is a sedimentary geologist interested in Cretaceous and Paleogene sequences on the African continent. Working throughout central Africa, Eric is the lead RRBP geoscientist and has conducted a multi-year study on the stratigraphy, sedimentology, and geochronology of deposits in the Rukwa Rift Basin. He is currently exploring synchronous patterns of tectonic and paleoenvironmental change on the African landscape. Eric also leads the project's efforts on taphonomy and is currently compiling taphonomic data to help profile the depositional setting and paleoenvironmental context of RRBP fossil finds.

Tobin HieronymusTobin Hieronymus (Northeastern Ohio College of Medicine) is an evolutionary morphologist whose research focuses on the development and evolution of hard keratinized skin structures in vertebrates—beaks, scales, horns, and feathers. His work uses an integrative approach that combines field paleontology and classical comparative anatomy with evolutionary modeling and molecular techniques. He began working on the RRBP in 2004 as a graduate student at Ohio University, with growing involvement in the research effort since receiving his doctorate in 2009.

Sifa NgasalaSifa E. Ngasala (Michigan State University, University of Dar es Salaam) is a geologist and vertebrate paleontologist focused on lungfish adaptation and evolution on the African continent. Sifa began working with the RRBP in 2004 as a University of Dar es Salaam MS graduate student exploring the sedimentology and paleoenvironment of the Rukwa Rift Basin. His PhD research at Michigan State University explores regional/continental biogeographic patterning and paleoecological implications of the evolutionary radiation of lungfishes.

Field Team Slideshow

Students and staff (past & present) involved in the Rukwa Rift Basin Project:

Undergraduate students:
Natalie Burrows (Ohio University PACE undergraduate), scientific illustration; Eric Gorscak (B.S. in Biology and Geology, Ohio University), fossil preparation lab; Sarah Gutzwiller (Ohio University HTC undergraduate in Biology), avian evolution undergraduate thesis; Gabriel Masai (B.Sc. Geological Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam), field geology; Edica Masisi (B.Sc. Geological Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam), field geology; Hannah Meixner (Ohio University PACE undergraduate), educational outreach; Ahmed Mussa (B.Sc. Geological Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam), field geology; Emily Naylor (Ohio University PACE undergraduate, senior thesis on micromammal astragali); Julian Pelfrey (fossil preparation lab volunteer); Erin Rowland (Ohio University PACE undergraduate in Computer Engineering), specimen database; JoAnna Sidote (B.A. in , Ohio University), senior research and curatorial assistant; Nicole Sills (Ohio University PACE undergraduate in Education), educational outreach; Will Stevens (Undergraduate Research Immersion Program and senior thesis), fish morphology; Becky Smolenski (Ohio University PACE undergraduate in Geology), GIS database; Kenneth Wheeler (Ohio University PACE undergraduate in Biology), vertebrate cranial anatomy; Leonard William (B.Sc. Geological Sciences, University of Dar es Salaam), field geology.

Graduate students:
Adele Choh (M.S. in Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa) sedimentology; Ryan Felice (PhD student in Biological Sciences program, Ohio University), avian morphology; Eric Gorscak (PhD student in Biological Sciences program, Ohio University), sauropod dinosaur evolution; Hannah Hilbert-Wolf (M.S. in Geosciences, James Cook University, Australia); Waymon Holloway (PhD student in Biological Sciences program, Ohio University), archosaur morphology; Zubair Jinnah (PhD in Geosciences, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa), sedimentology; Jenny Lang (MA in Cultural Studies, Ohio University); Eric Lund (PhD student in IIP program, Ohio University), dinosaurian evolution; Katie Macys (MA in Cultural Studies, Ohio University); Jacob McCartney (PhD in Anatomical Sciences program, Stony Brook University), snake morphology; Keegan Melstrom (fossil preparation technician, beginning MS in Geology at University of Utah in August 2013); Sifa Ngasala (PhD student in Geological Sciences, Michigan State University), lungfish evolution; Haley O’Brien (PhD student in Biological Sciences program, Ohio University), Cenozoic mammalian paleoecology; Erin Simons (M.S. in Geology, Michigan State University; PhD in Biology, Ohio University), avian anatomy; Verne Simons (M.S. in Biology, Ohio University), anuran functional morphology.

Recent field team participants:
Sara Burch, Jean-Pierre Cavigelli, Remigius Chami, Don DeBlieux, Sebastian Egberts, Ryan Felice, Eric Gorscak, Mike Getty, Tobin Hieronymus, Hannah Hilbert-Wolf, Zubair Jinnah, Saidi Kapilima, Cornelia Krause, Andrew Lee, Eric Lund, Kaitlin Maguire, Gabriel Masai, Edica Masisi, Juan Garcia-Massini, Epiphania Mtabazi, Cassy Mtelela, Shakila Mtete, Ahmed Mussa, Sifa Ngasala, Haley O’Brien, Erin Rasmusson-Simons, Joe Sertich, JoAnna Sidote, Verne Simons, Jesuit Temba, Joseph Temu, Leonard William.

Other collaborators:
David Blackburn, Nelson Boniface, Kerin Claeson, Will Clyde, Michael Gottfried, Sidney Hemming, David Krause, Ross McPhee, Joe Sertich, Mark Schmitz, Erik Seiffert.