Students learned in detail about how decaying organic plant material gets preserved over time (taphonomy). For example, plants can get preserved under volcanic ash, mud slides, or on lake and river bottoms. In all cases, fine sediment or ash completely covers the plant material.  To illustrate taphonomy, students went to the river to look at some sediment.  Students shoveled mud into large screens, or sieves, to separate any decaying organic material that was destined to become a fossil in the far future.

Students collecting mud to screen for plant material hidden within.

In the Turkwel River.

Bean and Marcela are enjoying a free mud mask at the Turkwel River spa.

Science can be fun!

Professor Bonnie Jacobs is explaining the screening process with the help of James and Eli.

First buckets of mud are poured into the screen, which is then rinsed with water. Dirt goes back into the river, organic material like plants, seed, insects and fish stay behind in the mesh.

Sorting through the material remaining in the screen....

The bounty: plant material - fossils of a future time?

Beware of pirates that can sometimes be found in the TBI area.