Field camp 2017 journals

The author climbs Hawk Rim, Oregon. Photo courtesy Win McLaughlin.

The author climbs Hawk Rim, Oregon. Photo courtesy Win McLaughlin.

Last month I had the privilege to join the University of Oregon vertebrate paleontology lab for their summer field camp. I had some thought while I was there. With the paleontologists' names (mostly) hidden to protect the innocent, I've reproduced those thoughts here.

On the first day I met my fellow campers. By "my fellow campers" I mean mosquitos.

Day 2 was my first experience in the field. (Also: my first fossil find!) Philosopher that I am, it got me thinking about Thomas Kuhn.

Geology involves a lot of coloring and color recognition. I discovered this on day 3, when I speculated that geologists had stumbled upon Hume's missing shade of blue.

Maps are one context in which colors are important to geologists. I did my first mapping on day 4. (I could have been better at the mapping.)

On day 5 I made a discovery, if second-order discoveries (i.e., discoveries of previous discoveries) so qualify. I other words, I went around in circles--and not in the way that my philosophy students normally say I do.

We took a field trip on day 6. Have you ever heard of Crack-in-the-Ground, Oregon? It's both a name and a description.

Day 7 was my first day devoted entirely to paleontological work. I mused on the utility of field notes.

I did my best Indiana Jones impression on day 8, but only insofar as Indiana Jones is an ophidiophobe.

Both my heart and a 20-million-year-old fossil broke on day 9.

On day 10 I noticed that my field notes were filling up with sketches, and so I thought a bit about the utility of art in field paleontology.

For the best advice I'll ever get in my capacity as a field paleontologist, check out my entry from day 11.

With camp winding down on day 12, I took some time to write about proper field attire. Note that I said "proper," not "fashionable" or "comfortable."

Finally, day 13 involved lots and lots of heavy lifting.

That was the end of field camp, but not the end of journal entries! As we've already noted, Extinct will be visiting Calgary for this year's Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting. Keep checking the site for periodic thoughts from the conference!