Series: GIP Participants and Project Highlights

Geoscientists-in-the-Parks: Paleontology Intern

Lilian Peterson - Paleontology Intern, Point Reyes National Seashore, 2015

intern on coastal bluff writing in field notebook
Lillian Pearson at Point Reyes National Seashore, California documenting a whale mandible fossil on Drakes Head.

(NPS photo)

Lillian's GIP project was to develop strategies for long-term monitoring of rapidly eroding fossil rich exposures along the park's coastline. While doing her project, Lillian Pearson and paleontologist Robert Boessenecker discovered and collected a short-beaked dolphin that likely represents a new species of marine mammal. The specimen was discovered when Lillian was evaluating coastal exposures of fossiliferous rocks at the national seashore. Very few cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) have been described from the Purisima Formation and the recovery, preparation, and study of this specimen will provide important information on the biodiversity of marine mammals in the Pliocene age formation.

Learn About GIP Opportunities

For more than 20 years, the Geoscientists-in-the-Parks program has been placing talented college students and recent graduates in parks to gain on-the-ground work experience while completing important natural resource science projects for the National Park Service.