2013 Taylor & Francis Award for Best Student Article in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology Award

Gabriela Sobral


I was around 8 years old when I first watched a movie that would change my life forever: "Baby – Secret of the Lost Legend". I was so impressed it awoke the interest in me for all things living, present and past, and made me then decide to become a palaeontologist. Inspired throughout the years by other films, books, documentaries, and frequent museums visits, and despite some statements that palaeontology was not a “real job”, I received my BSc degree in

     

Biology (Zoology) at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. My monograph was made at the Museu Nacional do Rio de Janeiro under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Sérgio Alex K. de Azevedo and MSc. Pedro Seyferth R. Romano (Department of Geology and Palaeontology – MNRJ) and Prof. Dr. Luiz Antônio Pedreira Gonzaga (Laboratory of Ornithology and Bioacoustics – UFRJ). I then moved to Ribeirão Preto and in 2009 I received my MSc degree in Comparative Biology at Universidade de São Paulo (USP) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Max C. Langer.


As an extension of part of my Master’s project, I went to Germany to expand my knowledge in archosaurian anatomy, since a good anatomical knowledge is especially required in palaeontology. My PhD thesis is being carried out at the Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and the Museum für Naturkunde
under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller, and it focuses on the archosaurian braincase and middle ear, with emphasis on the origin and evolution of impedance-matching hearing.


For the first step in learning CT techniques and braincase anatomy, I scanned the wellpreserved but long-forgotten braincase material of Dysalotosaurus lettowvorbecki, which are housed at the MfN. The results were surprisingly good, so we decided to publish them as a redescription of the
material followed by the new inner ear discoveries. Every step in the making of this paper, even the stressful ones, was so enriching it supported the conviction that I am on the right path doing the right thing; I believe it has contributed immensely to my academic growth. Receiving the Taylor & Francis Award for Best Student Article in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology is a great honour and a nice, though unexpected, way to finish this process. I would like to thank my advisor Prof. Dr. Johannes Müller and my labmate and friend Christy A. Hipsley for all the help and support, and also the editor Dr. Paul Barrett (Natural History Museum, London) for the very constructive discussions and input.

As an SVP award winner I now feel the pressure building up, and I hope to keep up with the expectations, doing high-quality research, and thus contributing to the further development of the field of Vertebrate Palaeontology.