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About the Society Awards Past Award Winners 2016 Awardees 2016 (Cohen Award) Leonard Dewaele


As for most people, my interest in vertebrate paleontology dates back to my childhood. Or to be more precise: for me it all started the moment when I watched Jurassic Park and saw professor Grant leaving a little boy in awe after telling about Velociraptor behavior. With other people continuously trying to talk me into majors that would lead to a ‘real job’, I became more and more determined to pursue my love for paleontology: a field of study that inspires and sparks the people’s imagination more than any other. Unfortunately, even during my geology studies at Ghent University, I had to wait till my Masters thesis to get to work with vertebrate fossils: under the supervision of Pascal Godefroit from the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, I described the first perinatal specimens of Saurolophus angustirostris from Mongolia’s Gobi desert. Now, I’m halfway through my PhD
studies on the early evolution of fossil seals in the North Atlantic under the supervision of Stephen Louwye and Olivier Lambert.

I am grateful to receive the Cohen Award from SVP. This award makes it possible for me to study the evolution of pachyosteosclerosis in pinnipeds. This will not only be an important aspect of my PhD research, but will also be of significant value for others studying secondarily aquatic adaptations in tetrapods and the result of this study will be the foundation of future osteohistological research on pinnipeds.