Doing Paleontology: It’s Field Season!!

[post by Pennilyn Higgins]

In three weeks, I leave for my annual visit to the Rocky Mountains. I'll be spending about a month there, moving from field area to field area, doing as much as I can in the short amount of time I have.

Home on the range
Home on the range

Field time is among the most prized possessions of paleontologists. We don't often get to spend months and months on the outcrop, searching for the next big thing. For many of us, duties of our employment keep us tied to the office or lab for all but a few precious weeks of the year.

For me, time spent in the field is not just for finding new specimens to study for the next 11 months, it's about grounding myself again. It's about remembering why I tolerate things like staff meetings and that same laboratory safety training I've done every year for the past decade. I need that time to remember where my passions lay, or else I'm pretty convinced my brain would explode.

So now with three weeks left before departure, I'm finalizing my travel plans. I'm looking at last year's notes and reminding myself of what I wanted to look at again in greater detail this year. I'm kicking the tires on the truck, making sure it'll survive another 3000 mile round-trip. And I'm pulling out all my field gear to make sure it's still in working order.

Also need to make sure the Bat-signals are ready for any emergencies.
Also need to make sure the Bat-signals are ready for any emergencies.

It never ceases to amaze me how much stuff I cram into my truck. All the things I feel as if I can't live without. It's also impressive how much of that stuff I can get rid of when I need to travel light. I can get field and camping gear sufficient for two weeks of work into two suitcases.

Hmm. Maybe I'll travel light like that again this year. I just need my hand lens, a hammer, my notebook.

And my other hammer, and my day pack, and my laptop. My camera. The GPS.

My boots and a tent. And a back-up tent.

The stove. And the back-up stove.

Oh. Sample bags. And lots of permanent pens.

And don't forget the compass.

Water. Lots of water.

You know... I think I'll just jam all that into the truck like I always do.

A mud bath helps prevent rusting.
A mud bath helps prevent rusting.

Then I'll head out on my merry way, ready for anything that might come along!

Wish me luck!

 On my way! To the Cretaceous, and beyond!
On my way! To the Cretaceous, and beyond!

--Pennilyn Higgins is a paleontologist at University of Rochester
Posted: 6/18/2015 1:29:40 PM by host | with 0 comments
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