Dr Aodhán Ó Gogáin
- Postdoctoral researcher
Aodhán Ó Gogáin is a postdoctoral researcher at NUIG working on computed tomography of Carboniferous tetrapods. He previously submitted his Ph.D. at Trinity College Dublin in 2019 and has a masters from the University of Bristol.
The Carboniferous is an important period in our understanding of the evolution of backboned animals, with the appearance of the first terrestrial vertebrates, along with the origin of the linages of both modern amphibians and reptiles occurring in this period. Our understanding of vertebrates from this period is dominated by large fossils assemblages such as the Jarrow Assemblage collected from a coal seam in north Co. Kilkenny. Despite its importance it is poorly studied. The project uses micro-computed tomography and 3D modelling to identify new vertebrate species previously unknown to science from this assemblage.
The Jarrow Assemblage preserves a diverse collection of early tetrapods in the coals and shales of Clogh, Co. Kilkenny. Dated as Langsettian, the assemblage is the oldest of the “Westphalian” coal swamp assemblages. The Jarrow Assemblage marks the oldest occurrence of stem-tetrapod clades such as the nectrideans, and the first appearance of diverse morphotypes of other stem-tetrapod clades such as the aïstopods. Additionally, an undescribed “microsaur” specimen may represent the oldest fossil amniote yet discovered.
Despite the Jarrow Assemblages importance in our understanding of early tetrapod evolution and their colonisation of terrestrial ecosystems, it is poorly studied. This is generally due to the poor appearance of the fossils. Despite being of lagerstätten quality, the fossils are highly compressed and thermal metamorphism has altered the bone so that the boundary between bone and matrix can be difficult to discern.
This project will use micro-computed tomography (µCT) to rendered 3Dmodels of as yet undescribed tetrapod specimens from the assemblage. µCT will also allow for the description of the soft body of these tetrapods. Phylogenetic analysis will be carried out on the newly described taxa in order to investigate early tetrapod relationships.
- Postdoctoral Researcher