A day in the life of the life of a paleontologist on the dig site
By Dr. Victoria Egerton, Children's Museum Paleontologist-in-Residence
Each day in Wyoming is a new adventure. I’m serious. With new teammates coming over from across the pond, unpredictable weather, and surprise discoveries on the dig site, you never know what each day will bring. We also manage to find some semblance of rhythm to what we’re doing day-in and day-out...as long as the weather cooperates.
Not long ago, I recorded a day in the life here in Wyoming, including major events, not-so-major events, and other highlights from a (what you could call) “typical” day of fieldwork.
A day in the life on the dig site
June 26: Day 26
I finally decide to roll out of bed after a bad night’s sleep. I really need to explain about time zones to family in the UK…
It rained heavily yesterday afternoon so I have to drive halfway to the site to check the road conditions before anyone heads out. If it’s slippery then we can’t get to site because it would be too dangerous. ...Boy can I use a cup of coffee.
Arrive back home. Everyone is still asleep. But at least my coffee is ready. Alerted the different groups that we are a GO for today!
PhD student Rob Brocklehurst took pity on me and made me a cooked breakfast!
The storm clouds start to move in. I had to go “upstairs” to the “attic”—the very top of the dig site—to look across the landscape to see how the storms are moving.
Back to work on the upper quarry and having wonderful conversations with Dr. Paul Kenrick, paleobotanist from the Natural History Museum in London, on how plants are more awesome than dinosaurs. It’s true!
*The rest of my afternoon was spent running up and down the steep slopes to the top of the highest ridge so I could watch the storms. My Apple Watch estimates my total flights of stairs today is 36. Weather question of the day: should I trust my optimistic weather app or my pessimistic weather app?
Had to call it a day because of rain. Paul Kendrick had an amazing find today! It’s so amazing we have to keep it a secret…
Head out to meet up at a local restaurant with the crew. Should I mention the soundtrack for the day? Classic Disney!
Calling it a day
As you can see, a lot can happen in one day. We try to pack in as much as we can while the weather is cooperating. We work hard. My aching muscles are testament to that. But we also take time to play and relax. You know it’s been a good day when you’re worn out at the end of the day.
Tomorrow’s just another day in the life of a paleontologist. We never know what we’re going to uncover. It’s all part of the excitement of fieldwork.
Stay up to date!
Don’t miss a moment of the 2019 Mission Jurassic dig! Follow the Mission Jurassic hashtag (#MissionJurassic) and the museum’s Extraordinary Scientists-in-Residence, Prof. Phil Manning (@DrPhilManning) and Dr. Victoria Egerton (@DrVEgerton), for up-to-the-moment information from the dig site!