Tuesday, November 6, 2007
Posted by Houston Museum of Natural Science at 9:50 PM
"I go fossil hunting with my uncle from Fort Worth about 4 times a year, just looking around in dried creek beds. I am very fascinated by these simple fossils, and look forward at a chance to dig with a professional, especially with someone as prestigious as Dr. Bakker."
After high school, Tarrington plans to get a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Texas Tech.
Posted by Houston Museum of Natural Science at 9:37 PM
Welcome to paleontology, where few things are really all that they seem.
As a high school science teacher, I know from experience that there are a lot of chapters in a text book that are a lot like rocks. You move over and around them everyday, not even knowing to look for something fascinating that might be hiding under the surface of a chapter title like “Chapter One: Scientific Method.” I know from experience that sometimes the difference between a kid learning something and not even trying is simply a matter of presentation. So when I saw that lesson about steps for scientific method coming, I thought I might try something that my students surely hadn’t seen before.
I brought them a rock.
But not just any rock. I brought them a rock that I had found myself. I told them where I found it and I told them that I honestly had no idea about what it was when I picked it up (step one: state the problem!!). I asked for ideas (or dare I say “hypotheses”?) about what this rock could be and then I told them how I actually gathered information (step two!) about each one of those ideas. Then we tested each of those ideas together (step three!). I told them that the test that gave me the most information was actually sticking my tongue to the rock and when it stuck, I knew I had bone (paleontologists can be quite efficient!). “A bone?! But what kind of bone?! How did it get there??!” my students asked me in surround sound, and before I knew it, a room full of what used to be bored kids was now analyzing results and drawing conclusions with an enthusiasm that caught even me off guard. Scientific method suddenly made sense, now that we weren’t looking at it with glazed-over eyes.
With one rock – or chunk of mammoth tusk – I had stumbled upon a way to let kids get carried away in discovering what science really is. Don’t you see? Science is actually a world that is relevant to us, full of mystery and puzzle pieces just waiting to be put together.
Not just a rock.
Posted by Houston Museum of Natural Science at 8:47 PM
This morning, the team headed out to the Aimee site, where they uncovered what looks to be an entire associated Dimetrodon skeleton. It started when Chris discovered the tip of a Dimetrodon fin spine on the surface, which led to an entire fin spine, which led to four more, and on and on and on...(video coming soon to a computer near you.)
They also excavated several other locations within the Aimee site; one with tiny fish scales and coprolites, and another with an enormous amount of Xenacanth cartilage, poison spines and teeth. With all this after this morning's surprising discovery about yesterday's finds, it was quite a day.
An unidentified amphibian jaw (next to an unidentified vertebra, at right), found at a lowest level of the Aimee site.
A piece of Xenacanthus spine found on the surface of the Amy site.
A Dimetrodon claw found at the Aimee site.
Technical difficulties are keeping us from posting photos tonight, but check back tomorrow - we're hoping to upload the video of today's excavation, along with photos and more updates.
UPDATE - photos and captions inserted above. We're still working on video.
Posted by Houston Museum of Natural Science at 8:32 PM
The first bones discovered at the lower level of the K2 site yesterday; the large bone on the right is one of the two we believed to be Edaphosaurus - until today.
At the K2 site yesterday, Dr. Bakker holds what was believed to be an Edaphosaurus vertebra.
Here's how we know:
A tiny Xenacanthus tooth. In the background, a team member excavates a site yielding fossilized cartilage from this species.
The jawbone of a Permian amphibian, found by Kathleen Zoehfeld this morning.
An unidentified (so far) vertebra found at the Amy site this morning.
Posted by Houston Museum of Natural Science at 1:28 PM