Field of Science

"Old Paleontologists Never Die. Their Knees Just Give Out"

This is an excellent account of the joys and importance of field paleontology (and some of the luck involved) in an interview with one of the 'greats' in the field of vertebrate paleontology, Dr. Mary Dawson of the Carnegie Museum.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11072/1131175-51.stm

This article also mentions why it is important to revisit your previous digs and look for the pieces you are missing, many times they are often turned up by further erosion. In 2006 Randall Irmis and I described a new species of phytosaur, Pseudopalatus jablonskiae. One of the crucial preserved portions of the specimen was its braincase, which is one of the best preserved Pseudopalatus braincases ever found and in this particular species gives clues of the phylogenetic relationships between Pseudopalatus and the earlier Smilosuchus.  Unfortunately, the specimen had been trampled and slowly kicked apart (it was located on a trail). Many of the fragments had been washed downslope and reburied. We were able to piece together the braincase but lacked the lower portion, the basicranium. 

In 2008 I revisited the site and found more fragments that had eroded out from the downslope area and one of these was the nearly complete basicranium! At some point I will have to prepare a redescription of the entire braincase of this very cool (and important) specimen,

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