This past week in paleontology, the students spent time in lab learning how to identify bones of mammalian species found in the Turkana Basin and understanding differences in functional morphology. This is an important skill set because when we go into the field next week, the students will be able to identify any fossils they find. On Saturday, the students also spent a morning with the collections in the research labs to familiarize themselves with some of the fossils they might come across in the field!
The students loved the hands on experience with original fossil material, and they were able to practice what they have already learned in identifying fossil bones. Two of TBI’s most experienced fossil hunters, Sale and Apolo, were available to answer all of the students questions. It was a great first week in vertebrate paleontology and students were now ready for fossil hunting in the field!
The students next headed over to the preparation labs to see what happens to a fossil after it is brought back from the field. Sometimes sediment matrix needs to be removed from around a fossil and other times a specimen is extremely fragile and the bone needs to be hardened. After trying it out themselves, the students quickly learned that being a fossil preparator requires amazing patience.
The students loved preparing fossils so much, it was hard to get them to leave for lunch!
At the end of the first week of vertebrate paleontology, students are now experienced with identifying fossil fauna from the Turkana Basin. Next week, the students head to the field for prospecting, excavating and maybe even sieving if we find a fossil rich area! Check in soon to see what our students find in the field!