Field of Science

I Think the Jet Lag is Mostly Gone

I've been back from England for a few days but really have not had the energy to do too much with my evenings except try to get my sleep schedule back to Arizona time rather than London/Bristol, an 8 hour difference.

This year's SVP meeting was excellent and I totally enjoyed my time in Bristol and in London. While many attendees returned to the states after the meeting I went on to London for three days of work in the sub-basement of the Natural History Museum. I stayed at a neat little bed and breakfast in Parsons Green about six underground stops from the museum, which saved me some cash, and actually enjoyed my commute everyday. After eight hours of non-stop work in the museum, we would take the underground to various places in the city and check out sites such as the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, and of course Westminster Abbey. Unfortunately I did not get to go into many of these places due to arriving after hours, but it was still cool to see the outsides. The last day Jeff Martz skipped the museum and went out to see to Victorian dinosaurs at Crystal Palace Park and caught a second copy of William Smith's map of England (we had seen another copy in Bristol), which of course represents the beginnings of geological mapping, stratigraphy, and biostratigraphy. Nightly we would stop at a little pub near our B&B for internet and a pint of Young's Bitter.

The museum was excellent although I admit I spent the majority of my time in the basement and did not really get to see much else. I was mainly studying specimens of the aetosaur Stagonolepis robertsoni which is mostly represented by natural molds in sandstone from the Elgin area of Scotland, and a series of old casts made from these molds. Without these casts it would be almost impossible to study this material and I was pleasantly surprised about how much information is available from them. I also was able to see some phytosaur material collected from Germany in the 1860s and originally described by Hermann von Meyer.

Although my research took up almost all of my time and attention I did sneak a peak at some of the amazing dinosaur material in the collections. It was an honor to look upon some of Gideon Mantell's Iguanodon specimens, and browse through specimens studied by Owen, Huxley, Seeley, Lydekker, and others, and to reminisce about the beginnings of dinosaur paleontology (which all started there). However, as is typical for museum study, there never seems to be enough time to complete your primary research, never mind look at other things in great detail. It is absolutely amazing how many fossils are out there and how many are in venerable institutions such as the Natural History Museum in London. I don't think that even the staff who work there are able to see everything during their careers.

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