Friday, July 23, 2004
I wanted to mention why I will be in Wyoming next week: I'll be hunting dinosaurs. (Fortunately they will have been dead for millions of years, otherwise it would not really be a fair fight.)
I've blogged previously about the great work that Gabe Lyon and Paul Sereno do through Project Exploration, a non-profit organization devoted to bringing the excitement of science to city kids. Doing good work requires money, so PE has to devote a lot of energy to fund-raising, and has been blessed with a devoted and enthusiastic set of donors. One thing they like to do each year is to take a trip with some of the donors to do some honest fossil excavation at a site in the U.S -- sifting for microfossils, prospecting for larger dinosaur bones, and gently digging up and preserving the major fossils that have been found. (One goal is to build a teaching collection for the University.) So, while the expedition is fun and certainly educational, it's also quite serious; those are the bones of an actual Tyrannosaur that you are digging up and perhaps breaking in pieces if you're not too careful.
All of this seems perfectly sensible; less clear is how they got the idea that it would be amusing to bring along a cosmologist. But far be it from me to ask questions. (I did check that they wouldn't expect me to be able to identify constellations in the night sky, but they said that was okay.) I went last year, had a great time, even found a serious fossil myself. (A hadrosaur, if you must know -- the "cattle of the Cretaceous," a major contributor to T-Rex's diet.) And I'm going again this year. I'll report on any major discoveries when I get back.
Update: Here is the post-expedition report, part one and part two.