Day 2: Kuhn on the brain

I FOUND MY FIRST FOSSIL. (Note: this sentence is underlined several times in my original notes.)

"Real paleontologist" certification. Picture courtesy Win McLaughlin.

"Real paleontologist" certification. Picture courtesy Win McLaughlin.

Spent the day on Hawk Rim. For anyone who's never had the experience of walking on loose paleosols, here's an easy way to broaden your horizons: buy a few million ping pong balls, scatter them on a slope, and then go for a stroll. Alas, going the recreation route is likely to cheat you out of the chance to find an early Miocene horse toe (like the one pictured above) unless you also stock your gigantic ball pit with various fossils.

"So you're a real paleontologist now," my advisor said. I guess that another graduate degree wouldn't be necessary if becoming a paleontologist depended on performative utterance, but I'll take it for now.

None of that was really the main point of the day.

More to that point, we spent the day getting familiar with the area's stratigraphic units. The day was rife with allusions to the strong alliance between paleontology and geology, which shouldn't come as a surprise in a camp hosted by an Earth Sciences department. There's a lot of common language and shared methodology.

This is only worth noting insofar as my previous experience with paleontology has been almost entirely in the context of evolutionary biology, a field whose terminology has been entirely absent from camp discussions so far. I found myself wondering at one point, "What would Kuhn say?" He'd say that shared language (and not some stuff you read in Stephen Jay Gould essays) is the key indicator of disciplinary alliance, is what.

It's kind of a zebra stripe thing--are paleontologists doing geology that helps biology or biology that depends on geology?

Kuhn is also making an appearance in the blog post I'm writing. (Note: we can now change "I'm writing" to "I wrote.") This is not how I'd prefer to decorate my headspace, but here we are.