Molly Elizabeth Hunts Presents at The Ohio State University Spring Undergraduate Reasearch Forum
Abstract: “Body mass is a critical property of animals that is linked to many ecological characteristics. It can also easily be estimated, including in the fossil record. In this study, I quantified the body size of 33 species of the subfamily Entoptychinae, one of the most species-rich groups of burrowing rodents of the Oligocene. Between 30 and 20 million years ago, these animals were one of the dominant members of mammal communities across North America. I used measurements of the upper and lower toothrows of 222 fossil specimens to track the evolution of body size in entoptychines during the Oligocene and Miocene. I also assessed variation among and within each of the four genera.
My results show that Ziamys is significantly smaller than the other three entoptychine genera: Entoptychus, Gregorymys, and Pleurolicus. Interesting patterns of body size variation also emerge within each genus. For example, it appears that geographically overlapping species of Gregorymys are significantly different in body size. Additionally, within Pleurolicus, the largest species are found in the western intermontane region whereas significantly smaller species are restricted to the Great Plains.
The results of my analysis of body size changes through time show that the largest entoptychine taxa were alive early in the evolution of the group and went extinct around 23 million years ago. At the same time, the median and mean body sizes decreased and the smallest species of the subfamily show up in the fossil record. This drop in body size may be linked to a potential increase in fossoriality. Indeed, the decrease in body size within Entoptychinae happens at the time when open grass environments ideal for burrowing become more prevalent across the western United States where the fossil gophers are abundant. My results also show a relatively stable body size disparity throughout the range of the subfamily. Future analyses will investigate this pattern and its possible connection to changes in locomotion through time within the clade.”
Molly Hunt joins the Sternberg Science Camp Team
Molly is an Undergraduate Student in The School of Earth Sciences at The Ohio State University. She has been conducting paleontological research since high school. Currently, she focuses on rodent body size evolution throughout geological time. Molly also works as the Education and Collections Assistant at the Orton Geological Museum on OSU’s campus. She has done fieldwork both in the United States and internationally; in addition, she has worked as a paleontology intern at The Mammoth Site of Hot Springs South Dakota. When she is not working or taking classes Molly enjoys being a Board Member of the Education Division and Student Advisory Council of the Geological Society of America. She plans to attend graduate school, gaining a Ph.D. and working as a curator of vertebrate paleontology at a major American museum. She is very excited to join this year’s Sternburg Science Camp team!
GSA Presidential Address: A Call to Action
By Molly E. Hunt, GSA Science Communication Intern, Undergraduate Student Ohio State University
A Paleontology Student on Capitol Hill
As a young girl who grew up in rural Ohio and loved history and government, I never imagined I would have the chance to walk through the impeccable halls of the Capitol building and offices of the government of the free world. However, I had this honor on September 11, 2019 through Geoscience Congressional Visit Days hosted by the American Geosciences Institute. GeoCVD is an annual event that brings geoscientists from varying disciplines, institutions, and backgrounds to Washington D.C for a day of advocating the importance of geoscience education and research.
Hunt to be inducted into 4-H Teen Hall of Fame
Molly Hunt, a 2017 graduate of Greenville High School, has been selected as one of the 2019 Ohio 4-H Teen Hall of Fame inductees.
STEM Lights the Spark for 4-Hers
One of the areas we have seen a significant increase of interest recently is in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) area. Traditionally this has been a focus on agricultural science, mechanics, and natural sciences, but today 4-H has grown and now includes alternative and renewable energy, computer science, robotics, rocketry and more.