Robert W. Boessenecker, Ph.D.


R.W. Boessenecker, S.J. Boessenecker, and L.K. Pearson excavating a phocoenid porpoise skeleton from the lower Pliocene Purisima Formation at Point Reyes, northern California. May 2015.

I am a vertebrate paleontologist and adjunct lecturer in the Department of Geology and Environmental Geosciences at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina. I study various aspects of Cenozoic marine vertebrates, including systematics, functional morphology, taphonomy, paleoecology, paleobiology, and biochronology. Much of my research has focused on pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walruses) and cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and my Ph.D. thesis research (University of Otago, August 2015) elucidated the taxonomy, biogeography, biochronology, taphonomy, and feeding adaptations of Eomysticetidae – the earliest purportedly toothless and obligately filter feeding baleen-bearing mysticete whales – from the Oligocene of New Zealand.

Most of my research falls into one of three programs: 1) Description of Miocene-Pliocene vertebrates from the Purisima Formation of Northern California (ongoing), 2) study of Oligocene Eomysticetidae from New Zealand (completed), and 3) study of Oligocene toothed whales (Odontoceti) and baleen whales (Mysticeti) from the Charleston embayment. The latter involves a large collection of spectacularly preserved cetacean fossils in the College of Charleston Mace Brown Museum of Natural History (CCNHM), and constitutes my primary research emphasis here at CofC.

Watch this space! I’ll be adding to this page incrementally with discussions of various published and ongoing research projects, research news, and news about our museum (CCNHM).

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