Not Very Old Turtles

After a flight up on Saturday and a Sunday filled with grocery shopping, I got up at 5:45 this morning to get in to the Field Museum early so as to fill out my HR paperwork on my first day. The hour-long train ride in was delayed a further twenty minutes due to negative temperatures and snow (the weather in Chicago is not my favorite part of the city) but I somehow made it in by 9. After sitting in an office and signing a bunch of forms, I met my supervisor and was led through the basement of the museum, which was clearly designed with intent to restrain a minotaur. I’m definitely going to get lost every day this week. Finally, though, we made it to a door which displayed the following sign:Image

It looked promising, to say the least. Full disclosure; I abandoned all pretenses of maturity and was grinning like an idiot and looking around at femurs twice my height so fast that I think I may have given myself mild whiplash. 

Of course, I wasn’t put in charge of anything that important on my first day. For now I’m labeling a new shipment of fossils and making and organizing display trays, which is actually sort of fun if you’re the type of person who gets very excited about hot glue and Xacto knives. 


These are my very scientific supplies. 

Basically, what you do to make a display tray is you take a piece of styrofoam and a template and cut it out. There are approximately 11,000 sizes of templates (probably closer to 15, but math has never been my forte) so you have to do a bit of eyeballing to figure out the size you’ll need. Then, you cut off a square inch from each corner, take an appropriately sized box, and squish the styrofoam in as a lining.

The fun part comes after that, all of which takes about 15 minutes to do your first time and maybe 30 seconds by the end of your first day. The fossils themselves are in little boxes, organized by animal, and you have to arrange them in the trays, label and number them, and make little dividers around them. You end up with something like this:


Incidentally, I asked my supervisor how old these fossilized turtle legs and claws were. His casual reply was, “Oh, not very. Only from fifty or sixty million years ago.” 

So, yeah. Welcome to paleontology time, where sixty million years is barely vintage.




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