Well, if you can understand a phylogenetic tree then, assuming an average generation time of 10 years since the synapsid/diapside divergence in the late carboniferous period, a snake, or any other reptile for that matter, is indeed a cousin a few million times removed.

A masters degree and turtle pee

Doing a final cleaning before vacating my personal lab following a move, when I came across a product of the final three years of my pursuit of a Master’s degree: a 30 lb box of notes regarding the effects of turtle pee on pond water. A clear reminder of how determining the focus of my thesis research went like this:

“I really think I should build on the my pre-existing work with G. japonicus; I mean I’ve already published more on their ecology than anybody else has in the past century.”

“I’d rather you do something more practical and in a lab so you can be more well-rounded since you’ve focused so much on field work.”

“Okay. Well, then I want to do something with Alligators or crotalids. If I go back into Zoo work, more experience with them in an institutional setting on my resume would be tremendously helpful.”

“I want you to do something with more potential for applied research. I want you to build on this work about the effects of turtles on a freshwater nutrient cycle.”

So here I am today. The owner of a thus-far useless degree, bitter, and probably knowing more about red-eared slider piss than any other being in the cosmos.