In the first week of Paleontology, TBI field school students learned about the history and mechanisms of evolution, the osteology of many different types of animals from primates, artiodactyls and perissodactyls, to carnivores, as well as a discussing the specific functional morphology of individual species. We ended the week in the fossil lab, where two of TBI’s experienced fossil hunters and preparators, Sale and Apolo, lead us through Plio-Pleistocene fossil archives. Here students used their new knowledge to examine and identify different mammalian fossil bones. Week two consisted of field work, field work and more field work! It was a great week as the students had the opportunity to apply everything they learned in lecture and lab to what they were finding in the field. They had the opportunity to search for real fossils, take part in excavations and learn the specific protocols for fossil collection. The last few days of paleontology consisted of more prospecting, hill crawls, and sieving!
Sieving is a critical step in the collection process of fossil specimen. It allows us to recover every last bit of information from a fossil site, further adding knowledge we have about an incomplete specimen or microfauna, which can be very hard to find while prospecting. When sieving a designated area, the surface must be cleared of any large rocks and then sediment can be collected using brushes and pans. Once enough sediment is collected, it is sieved through, which filters out fossils and pieces of rock from the smaller grains of dirt and sand. Sieving is a time-intensive procedure as it requires filtering through all of the sediment in an area, but can be very lucrative in finding tiny fossils that can otherwise be easily missed!
Students split up into a sieving group and a prospecting group. Below are photos of the students and staff hard at work!