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Name: Aodhán Ó Gogáin

Carolina Rosca

Contact Details

Tel: +353 (0)87 6867643
Fax: +353 (0)1 6711199

Title of Project

Biomechanics and systematics of tetrapods from the Pennsylvanian (Upper Carboniferous) of Jarrow, Co. Kilkenny: implications for early tetrapod evolution and ecology.

Project details

Pennsylvanian tetrapod assemblages represent some of the oldest records of diverse terrestrial tetrapod ecosystems in the rock record.  One of the oldest of these assemblages is found at Jarrow Colliery, Co. Kilkenny, which contains abundant lepospondyl and fish specimens along with some rarer temnospondyl and baphetid material. Some of the abundant tetrapods include the limbless aïstopods (Tetrapoda: Lepospondyli) which can be split into two morphotypes which have inferred differential feeding biomechanics and are generally found together in assemblages, as is the case at Jarrow. Rarer tetrapods include the baphetids (Tetrapoda: Baphetidae) which were aquatic predators characterised by a large antorbital fenestrae which has been attributed to housing for electrical organs, secretionary glands or to accommodate muscle mass. Although it comprises a rich assemblage of tetrapods the palaeoecology of the Jarrow assemblage is poorly understood with palaeoenvironmental interpretations ranging from closed oxbow lakes to marine influenced settings. Despite these interpretations no direct palaeoecological or palaeoenvironmental analysis has been carried out on the assemblage.

The aim of my research is to investigate the evolution of form and function in the aïstopods and the baphetids and to interpret the palaeoecology of the Jarrow assemblage. Computed tomography scanning (CT-scanning) will be used to clarify the systematics of the aïstopods and to investigate differential jaw biomechanical models between the two morphotypes. CT-scanning will also be used on the skull of the baphetid Megalocephalus pachycephalus which will then be rendered in 3D visualization software allowing for myological reconstruction to investigate the form and function of the cranium. A palaeoecological analysis of the Jarrow assemblage will be undertaken for the first time and will place tetrapods and fish in a sedimentary context.

Name of supervisors

Dr. Patrick Wyse Jackson

Postgraduate personal details

My research interests include the palaeoecology of Carboniferous terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, the evolution of form and function in early tetrapods and the physiology of Upper Palaeozoic fish. 
I graduated in 2013 from Trinity College Dublin with a B.A. Mod. Geology. My final year thesis was based on a 6 week mapping project in Clare Island, Co. Mayo. During the six weeks a geological map was constructed from observations in field, and accompanied by sedimentary logs and cross sections. I also undertook a laboratory project on the systematics of Attenborosaurus conybeari in which I provided a detailed anatomical description. 
I graduated from the University of Bristol in 2015 with an MSc in Palaeobiology.  My masters thesis investigated the palaeoecology of Pennsylvanian fish communities from New Brunswick, Canada, and primarily dealt with understanding a euryhaline adaption within early acanthodians, chondrichthyans and sarcopterygians.    

Project Start Date

November 2015


Postgraduate Research Studentship Award, Trinity College Dublin