Friday, April 15, 2016

The End

     During my time at the Houston Museum of Natural Science (HMNS) I interned in Paleontology and gained many new skills. My work there involved collecting and search for fossils in the field, preparing them back at the lab, studying their imperfections like bite marks and fracture, and making a cast of one giant fossilized Diplodocus hip. 
     Through this experience I hoped to gain a better understanding of both paleontology and geology, and discover if this was something I wanted to do with my life. I have decided that geology is a path I want to pursue further, but I am not yet sure if I want to take the paleontology route or one of many others that I could pursue.  
     During this experience I worked with David Temple; associate curator of paleontology at the HMNS, Dr. Bob Bakker; curator of paleontology at the HMNS and a world renowned paleontologist in his own right, and also the volunteer of the HMNS. The other volunteers of the museum were the ones I was not thinking so much about when I started this experience, but, being that most of them are retired, they always had a lot of interesting carrier fields to talk about that come from all over the spectrum.
     I thoroughly enjoyed starting a hopefully long-lasting program between our school and the HMNS, and teaching others from the museum, visiting the museum, and from my school about what I learned. During this time I did not just get to present about my fieldwork to the community, but also to plan and teach a trip for other students in my high school to attend. There were lots of meeting times between David Temple, Dr. Ott; my science teacher, and I to plan the trips, and also many kinks to work out. I learned more than I could have ever expected to from this experience, and with these trips and my lab work I was able to achieve six of the learning outcomes of CAS for the IB program.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Final A-Term in Seymour, TX

     This was my third and final A-Term, during which I spent 60 hours working on paleontology in Seymour, and I can honestly say I am going to miss it. My internship has solidified that I will most likely major in geology in college. I feel as though my time spent in Seymour has been particularly important, because it has allowed me to be the first to work on certain Permian bones and also to observe the sediment in which they are preserved.
     During this trip I was able to see bits and pieces from different Permian animals that I had not seen before, which allowed me to broaden my understanding of the Permian ecosystem. I have appreciated this part of our research a lot since it has allowed me to not just work on Dimetrodons but also understand what they ate and where they both lived and did not live. We spent a more balanced amount of time at the Whiteside Museum's site on the George Ranch and the Houston Museum of Natural Science's sites on the Craddock Ranch this year. These two sites contain vastly different ecosystem, one which is run by Edaphosaur and Eryops and one containing many Dimetrodons and Xenacanthus sharks as well as gill breathing amphibians. One of my favorite parts of this year's trip was looking at the different sediments in these two ecosystems, their oxidation, and how oxygen, or a lack of it, affected the environment.
     I hope to return to Seymour at least one more time this summer before I head off to college.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Planning, Planning, and More Planning

     During February, I was able to go to the lab three times for three hours, two and a half hours, and two hours and forty five minutes.
     Recently I have been working on two things, air-scribing and planning A-Term fieldwork in Seymour. Our trip will be similar to last year's, but there will be two more students, including me, bringing the total to seven. All of the students this year did not attend the dig last year, and the only one who has prior experience with paleontology is Ian, who has been creating scientific illustrations of fossils in the lab but has not yet gotten to work on them. We also may be extending the trip a few days this year so that we get to spend an entire week in the field. Both of these things mean even more planning in advance, which is what I have been working on a lot lately with Dr. Ott and David Temple. I am excited to get to teach a new group of students about what I have been doing for almost the past 3 years now, and also to get to participate in a final dig up in Seymour before I graduate. I will not say it is my last dig though, as I have a feeling that I will be back.
     When not planning A-Term, I have continued to use the air scribe to remove caliche from Jane's leg bone and a fragment of bone found near it.  

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Picks and Dirt

     My time in the lab during January was condensed due to a different class schedule, but I still managed to spend five and a half hours there. I worked on something different each of the three days I was at my internship, though they were all still parts of Jane. On the first day, I got to practice using a straight pick to clean off some caliche from a small piece of bone that was found alongside Jane's leg bone. This was fun for me because the straight pick is a tool that I don't get to use very often, mainly because the caliche on Jane's bones is usually too thick. While this method is not as quick as an air scribe, it does come in hand when the bone you're prepping is still in the jacket or, in my case, when someone else is using the air scribe. Speaking of air scribes, I got to test out our new scribe on one of the other days. I really like this one because it also blows air onto where you're working, which prevents dust from building up on the bone and obstructing your view. I will definitely be using this scribe more in the future!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Changing the Oil

     Since I need David's help with the Jane jacket I've been working on, I decided to do some air scribe work on Jane’s leg bone. The first day in the lab I was there for 3 hours and had no issues, but by the second day the air scribe needed to be cleaned. I spent most of my 2.5 hours there doing this. As you can see in the pictures below I had to take the tool apart and clean all the pieces with q-tips. Once I got all the blackened oil off, I had to re-oil the air scribe using more q-tips. Cleaning the machine resulted in a much clearer sound, which is how I knew that the cleaning helped. I also cleaned a small piece of one of Jane’s bones that was found with her leg bone. It was really cool to see the white of the bone show through from under the caliche.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Removing Vinac and Dirt

     My work in the lab was slow the past two weeks, because I was slowly removing dirt and vinac from the small Jane jacket. I spent 3 hours in the lab both weeks. The vinac was originally used to glue some of the bones together and keep them in place while I was removing dirt from the jacket. The only issue with this was that some of the vinac had gotten on the dirt and was holding it in place. I had to add a lot of water, which helped to dissolve the vinac. I was then able to scrape away a bunch of dirt that was previously stuck inside the jacket. It was very satisfying to see a large clump of dirt being slowly cleared away. I am now to the point that I will probably need David’s help to remove a layer of bone before I can do much more with this jacket.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

A Box of Sea Treasures

     The first week I just worked on the small Jane jacket for 3.5 hours. Last week I was in the lab for 3 hours and started removing dirt from the small Jane jacket. A little while into working on this David came into the lab and showed me a really cool box of fossilized pieces of ocean life. These included stingray teeth, shark teeth, fish vertebrae, eel vertebrae, and stingray barbs. I got to dig through these as I filled small plastic bags with about an ounce of goodies. I enjoyed getting to look at fossils that I hadn't seen before and trying to identify them. My favorite fossils were the teeth because there were so many different types. There were also a few that had a very similar shape to Dimetrodon teeth, which I found particularly interesting because Dimetrodons were part of some of the first land ecosystems during the early Permian period.