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Michael Grondin/the Gauntlet

U of C student wins prestigious paleontogy prize

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Kohei Tanaka, a University of Calgary PhD student, won the Colbert Student Poster Prize at this year’s Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting.

The prize is awarded to a student at the meeting who presents important research clearly and effectively, and is one of the most prestigious awards available to students studying paleontology.

“Winning the Colbert Student Poster Prize was one of the goals of my career,” Tanaka said, “so I felt very happy to get the award.”

Tanaka’s research looked at the relationship between features in the eggs of dinosaurs and crocodiles and types of nesting behaviours. By looking at data taken from over 120 species of birds and crocodiles, Tanaka found that the porosity of an animal’s eggshell could be used to accurately predict whether it uses open nests or covered nests.

This method can be applied to dinosaur eggs, and can help paleontologists determine if the parents of a species brooded over their nest.

“Dinosaur eggshells are quite common, so there are many specimens available,” said Tanaka. “This method could have a wide impact on dinosaur paleontology.”

Tanaka has also received a Japan Student Services Organization scholarship, as well as an Honorary Killam scholarship. He plans to travel back to Japan to teach paleontology after completing his PhD.  

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