August 15, 2012
A friend requested more posts and photos about fossils! I will deliver. Why have I posted so few? Below, I explain my two pragmatic reasons.
But first, a fossil! Let’s make this interesting. Take a look and give me a guess what you think this image shows. Post your guess in the comments so everybody can see. Don’t worry, there are no silly guesses – this is how paleontology became what it is today. We learn to reexamine rocks and every year realize there are amazing records of past live we’ve overlooked for centuries!
Specifically, check out the orange-ish parts of this rock. Is this a fossil? If so, of what!? Hints: red and white stripes on the Jake staff are 10cm each. This image is looking at the bottom of a layer of rock. Need more hints? Post questions in the comments, and I should be able to answer in Lima.
Why haven’t I posted pictures or videos of my rocks or fossils here?
1) When lucky enough to have a hotel during field work, my nighttime duties include cataloguing the days observations and samples, looking up information on the internet, and communicating with people back home. This blog is a part of that but it’s all I can do to get one dispatch out most nights.
2) Sadly paleontologists can be very competitive, dishonest people. I vividly remember my first science meeting, 24 years old, two weeks after finishing my first official summer field expeditions. Researchers from three different countries came up to my poster to tell me they planned to fly to the American west to do my dissertation project before I could finish it. This was after I offered to collaborate with people who turned me down! The silver lining here is that I’m studying something people care about. As a totally non-competitive person, though, I just can’t wrap my head around people who lie and manipulate – basic human behaviors to which, sadly, science is not immune. Consequently, I don’t so much as post on Facebook about where and when I do field work, and what fossils I find. I post pictures of sunsets and lizards, weeks later. Because my main dissertation research isn’t published yet, I can’t even describe exactly what I’ve found and why I’m here openly on the internet.
To be fair, though, there are plenty of rocks and fossils I’ve seen on this trip that are plentiful throughout time. They won’t, you know, spill the beans. So, insofar as I have time, I’ll post pics and explanations of cool fossils or features over the next week or so.
Right now time is short – I still have a sack of specimens to re-catalogue and most of my gear is packed, then we head down the mountain for Lima, a drive of 4-5 hours. Wish us luck!