University of California Museum of Paleontology UCMP in the field See the world (and its fossils) with UCMP's field notes.
About UCMP People Blog Online Exhibits Public programs Education Collections Research
About UCMP : Contact UCMP

Nick Pyenson
Lindberg/Barnosky Lab

Nick Pyenson

Email: pyenson@berkeley.edu

Phone: (510) 643-9746

His research: Nick studies the evolution of marine mammals.

His path to science: Nick often visited museums as a boy and he always thought they were cool places. In college, Nick found that the science behind museums was equally as cool, and while pursuing a degree in biology, he had an opportunity to take courses as varied as field botany and epidemiology. It wasn't until Nick tackled some research projects — such as hominid paleoecology, fossil amphibian trackways, and dolphin brain evolution — that his interest in large-scale evolutionary questions emerged.

On working at UCMP: "It's like being a kid in a candy store. There's literally a thousand dissertations to be done with the materials in our collections."

Publications:

Pyenson, N.D., R.B. Irmis, and J.H. Lipps. 2010. Comment on "Climate, Critters, and Cetaceans: Cenozoic Drivers of the Evolution of Modern Whales." Science, 330: 178-a.


Pyenson, N.D., R.B. Irmis, J.H. Lipps, L.B. Barnes, E.D. Mitchell, Jr., and S.A. McLeod. 2009. The origin of a widespread marine bonebed deposited during the middle Miocene Climatic Optimum. Geology 37:519-522.


Domning, D. P., and N. D. Pyenson. 2008. "Snagging" Teeth and premolar homologies in Paleoparadoxiidae (Mammalia: Desmostylia). Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 28(3):923-927.


Pyenson, N. D., J. A. Goldbogen, and R. E. Shadwick. 2008. Understanding the evolution of lunge-feeding in Balaenopteridae by integrating biomechanics and phylogenetic comparative methods with the fossil record. Fifth Conference on Secondary Adaptation of Tetrapods to Life in Water, Kohno, N. (ed.); National Museum of Nature and Science, Tokyo, Japan. Pp. 65-66


David, E.B., N. D. Pyenson. 2007. Diversity biases in terrestrial mammalian assemblages and quantifying the differences between museum collections and published accounts: a case study from the Miocene of Nevada. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeocology 250: 139-149.  Read it


Irmis, R. B., N. D. Pyenson, and J. H. Lipps. 2007. Formation of marine bonbeds: insights from the Middle Miocene Sharktooth Hill bonebed of California. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(3 Suppl.): 94A.


Pyenson, N. D. 2007. Metropolitan mammoth. Berkeley Science Review 12: 52-57.  Read it


Pyenson, N. D. and E. Hoch. 2007. Tortonian pontoporiid odontocetes from the eastern North Sea. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(3):757-762.


Pyenson, N. D., and K. R. Brudvik. 2007. Rare fossil baleen from the Purisima Formation of California: Implications for soft tissue preservation in shallow marine environments. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(3 Suppl.): 132A.


Pyenson, N. D., and S. Sponberg. 2007. Reconstruction body size in extinct crown Cetacea using allometric scaling, phylogenetic comparative methods, and tests from the fossil record. In Warren, A. (ed), Conference on Australiasian Vertebrate Evolution, Palaeontology and Systematics 2007, Geological Society of Australia Abstracts 85:51-52.


Pyenson, N. D., R. B. Irmis, and J. H. Lipps. 2007. Formation and taphonomy of the sharktooth hill bonebed, a unique accumulation from the Mid-Miocene of California. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, 39(6): 398.


Uhen, M. D. and N. D. Pyenson. 2007. Diversity estimates, biases, and historiographic effects: resolving cetacean diversity in the Tertiary. Palaeontologia Electronica 10(2):11A:22p.  Read it


Werth, A. J., B. L. Beatty, N. D. Pyenson. 2007. Do odontocetes masticate? Investigating evidence from tooth wear, homodonty and enamel microstructure. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 27(3 Suppl.): 165A.


Haasl, D.M., and N.D. Pyenson. 2006. A whale skeleton-bivalve community from the Late Miocene of California. Geological Society of America Abstracts with Programs, Vol. 38, No. 7, p. 68.


Pyenson, N.D., and M.F. McKenna. 2006. How did early toothed whales echolocate? An investigation of morphological evidence using phylogenetic and soft tissue inference. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 26(3 Suppl.):113A.


Barnes, L.G., N.D. Pyenson, and S.A. McLeod. 2005. Middle Miocene marine ecosystems and cetacean diversity as exemplified by the Sharktooth Hill Bonebed, California, USA. Evolution of Aquatic Tetrapods, Fourth Triannual Convention Abstracts. Cranbrook Institute of Science Miscellaneous Publications 1:6-7.


Hunt, A.P., S.G. Lucas, and N.D. Pyenson. 2005. The significance of the Union Chapel Mine site: A Lower Pennsylvanian (Westphalian A) ichnological Kozentrat-Lagerstätte, Alabama, USA. Pp. 3–14 in R.J. Buta, A.K. Rindsberg, and D.C. Kapaska-Merkel (eds.), Pennsylvanian Footprints in the Black Warrior Basin of Alabama. Alabama Paleontological Society, Monograph No. 1, Birmingham, Alabama.


Martin, A.J., and N.D. Pyenson. 2005. Behavioral significance of vertebrate trace fossils from the Union Chapel Mine Site. Pp. 59–73 in R.J. Buta, A.K. Rindsberg, and D.C. Kapaska-Merkel (eds.), Pennsylvanian Footprints in the Black Warrior Basin of Alabama. Alabama Paleontological Society, Monograph No. 1, Birmingham, Alabama.


Pyenson, N.D. 2005. Maxilla and mandible: tooth counts, telescoping, and the evolution of dentition in Neoceti. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 25(3):102A.


Pyenson, N.D., and L. Pyenson. 2005. Treating Medieval manuscripts as fossils. Science 309:698-701.


Davis, E.B., and N.D. Pyenson. 2003. Assessing mammalian paleofaunal diversity: discrepancies between published and museum collection data for the Miocene of northwestern Nevada, USA. Geological Society of America, 2003 Annual Meeting. Abstracts with Programs, p. 498.


Marino, L., M.D. Uhen, N.D. Pyenson, and B. Frolich. 2003. Reconstructing cetacean brain evolution using computed tomography. The Anatomical Record (Part B: New Anatomist) 272B:107-117.


Pyenson, N.D., and D.R. Lindberg. 2003. Phylogenetic analyses of body size in Neoceti: preliminary proxies for studying cetacean ecology in the fossil record. Abstracts for the 15th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Greensboro, NC. Pp. 133-134.


Marino, L., M.D. Uhen, N.D. Pyenson, S. Rotenberg, B. Shamsai, and B. Frolich. 2002. Brain morphometry during cetacean (dolphin, porpoise, and whale) evolution revealed by Computed Tomography. Abstracts from the Society for Neuroscience 32nd Annual Meeting, Orlando, FL.


Pyenson, N.D., and M.D. Uhen. 2002. Understanding cetacean diversity through the Tertiary: biases, estimates, and historiographic effects. In R.E. Fordyce and M. Walker (eds.), Secondary Adaptation to Life in Water. Department of Geology, University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ. Dec. 9-13, 2002.


Uhen, M.D., L. Marino, and N.D. Pyenson. 2002. Evolution of cetacean brains over time, through morphospace, and among lineages. In R.E. Fordyce and M. Walker (eds.), Secondary Adaptation to Life in Water. Department of Geology, University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ. Dec. 9-13.