Paleo Expedition 2013 Blog
We had an outstanding day getting to know all of this year’s participants. After getting to know everyone, we jumped right in to learning about Paleontology and Geology with Dr. Nick Czaplewski, the museum’s curator of vertebrate paleontology. He taught us a bit about geologic time and comparative anatomy to get us ready for the next two weeks! We also got to take a walk around the museum and get familiar with the kinds of specimens they have here. After the museum, we got to get to know each other a little more with some down time and swimming at the hotel! We can’t wait for the next two weeks!
– Kristi and Jes
After eating some waffles at the hotel for breakfast, we headed back to the museum. Dr. Steve Westrop helped us learn more about invertebrate paleontology and taught us about the type of specimens we will find out at White Mound on Wednesday. We also got to tour the invertebrate paleontology collection with collection manager Roger Burkhalter. He showed us some really cool specimens from the museum’s collection! That night, we learned how to work together through games at a ropes course. Through balancing, blindfolding and folding tarps we really came together as a group and learned a lot about each other and ourselves. – Kristi and Jes
Days Three — Five
We are back after spending an amazing two days camping! The first day we drove out to the Wichita Mountains to discover a little more about geology. We ate lunch on the top of Mount Scott and did some hiking around the area. Dr. Nick came up there with us to help us understand the geological importance of the area. The view was beautiful and the rock formations were very interesting. We went to a few sights around the area and saw some wile life at the reserve like prairie dogs and bison. We then traveled to our camp site, set up camp and made some hamburgers and hot dogs for dinner. After that, we went on an insect hunt and did some survival and tracking training with Dr. Nick. We ended up the night with some camp fire games and S’Mores! The next morning we woke up and packed up the vans and headed out to White Mound. There we hunted for invertebrate fossils and all had great success! Brachiopods, crinoids and coral were found along with an abundance of trilobite parts! Dr. Steve Westrop and Roger Burkhalter joined us to help identify our found fossils and also to help us with hunting techniques. They were a great help! That night, we set up camp at the Chickasaw National Rec Area. Our site backed up to a creek so we got some water playing time but with the lack of rain, we were not able to go swimming. We did play some fun water games to keep cool and have a good time though! We have been enjoying getting to know each other. And don’t worry, we have been eating well! Thanks to Brad, we had some delicious chili hash for dinner! Today we came back to the museum after lunch on the road and got to spend some time with Dr. Katrina Menard, the Curator of Recent Invertebrates at the museum. We played a bunch of fun games to learn about the anatomy of insects and what helps them survive. We also got a introduction to the research we are going to do with Dr. Katrina out in Black Mesa. We are hoping to use the research to better understand the ecology of the area we will be excavating. At the end of the day, we get to pig out at Golden Corral and we are staying in a hotel so we finally get a bed and a shower! Talk to you soon! – Kristi and Jes
Alyssa H.: It doesn’t feel like it’s just been four days here with everyone, doing the things we do. Like playing Mafia or Werewolves every night. Going to White Mound was really cool, and in, like, the last 20 minutes I finally found a trilobite. Mafia is probably my favorite part of the night, even though I always get accused (*cough cough* Gray *cough*). And the car rides are cool, like, we always have music playing and we laugh a lot. The scientist are really cool, too, like, they get way into things, and they don’t act like they are WAY better than us, and they do things like roll around in a bison wallowing. We swim when we’re at the hotel and ATTEMPT to get a really good underwater group pictures (we’ve succeeded a couple of times) and we get in the (freezing) hot tub and play some MORE Mafia. It’s been really fun and I think we’re all getting really close and I am really excited for the rest of the trip!
Laura G.: Wow! What a great trip this has been so far! We started off the week with some team building at the ropes course, which bonded us and brought us closer as a team. Then we headed out on Tuesday for a camping trip, first through the Wichita’s and then through Sulphur and the Arbuckle Mountains. Going to the top of Mount Scott was really amazing, the view was beautiful and it was fun to use some rock climbing-ish skills. Going to White Mound yesterday was really educational and enjoyable. I found some interesting Brachiopods (shell-like creatures) as well as some coral and possibly a Trilobite head. The scientists who have helped us like Nick, Steve, and Roger have been incredibly helpful in my understanding of geology, invertebrate paleontology, and comparative anatomy. I’ve already learned lots more about paleontology, even though this is my second trip. There’s always more to learn. This group of people is fantastic, and we all share a love for the game of Mafia. We already a theme song, a new one by Selena Gomez. All of my roomies have been fab, starting with Morgan, Shanna, Talon, and Tiffany. It’s a little weird coming back and enjoying the new experiences, all the while thinking of stories and memories from the last year’s trip. I can’t wait to see what else these two weeks have in store!! Miss you family and Kristin!
Morgan M.: It’s been great so far! The first day Dr. Nick came and taught us about how fossilization happens, radiometric dating, and the geological make up of the places we would be visiting. On the second day Dr. Steve talked to us about White Mound and a little about the things we would be finding. We spent the evening at a ropes course doing team activities. On Tuesday we left for the Wichita Mountains, learned about the geology of the area, and in the evening Dr. Nick taught us about edible plants, starting a fire without matches or a lighter, building a shelter, and other survival techniques. Wednesday we went to White Mound and I found four trilobites, a few solitary and colonial corals, and many brachiopods. Today we are back at the museum and now we’re currently working on cleaning up the fossils we found. It’s been a lot of fun and I look forward to the rest of the adventure!
Lauren C.: The first day Dr. Nick came and talked about fossils, tracking, and comparative anatomy. The next day we went to the ropes course for some team building! Tuesday was the start of our camping trip we started with Wichita Mountains there was huge rock formations we got the clime over and have lunch it was breath taking. Dr. Nick showed us how to study rock formations and we got to take how samples of sedimentary rock! The best part was getting to learn about Trilobites! Which that is a whole other thing I would love to go into but I have to go now.
Talon C.: Well I have had a lot of fun these past 5 days. I have learned a lot. We went through some very tough team bonding exercises. That taught me to have a little more patience. Got to hike a little at the Wichita Mountains and see some incredibly cute prairie dogs. Some Bison and long horn cows. Nick took us on a nature walk and showed us some very helpful survival skills. He also showed us some animal tracking training. Jesse took us on hunt for some insects. In the moments of starting our hunt, there was a huge tarantula crawling everywhere. That night my tent mate was the wonderful Laura!! The next day we traveled to white mound! Where i found some incredible fossils!!! I cannot wait for my family to see!! I found a head and a tail of a Trilobite!! Very cool find!! After White Mound we went to our camp site where we played lots of games and waded in the water. Then my tent mate for that night was Me, Myself, and I!!!! YES!! I stayed in a tent all by myself in the dark!! Very proud facing my fears! Shout out to the Family and Friends Love you and miss you bunches(:
Amanda Z.: So far, Paleo Expedition has been both a great educational process and a thrilling adventure. We have traveled to many exciting sites to excavate fossils. In addition, we have listened to multiple fascinating lectures from varying scientists. Along the way, we expanded our knowledge on paleontology, geology, and other fields of science. We also had the opportunity to improve on our teamwork skills. However, I was also able to come across some unexpected experiences. For example, I built and packed a tent for the first time, chopped up vegetables for dinner for the first time, and many other new exposures. Overall, the beginning of this Paleo Expedition is a wonderful adventure to be involved with. From the members within the expedition itself to the activities we participated in, to the sites we travel to all add up to a great experience.
Rachel W.: The past few days have been amazing! Day one we got to know each other. Day two we lost personal space and got closer as a team at the ropes course. Day three we went to Wichita Mountains and learned some geology. On day four we camped, found fossils at white mound, and explored a creek. Today it’s nice to be back in an air conditioned building after three days in the wilderness.
Shanna N.: Paleo Expedition has been really fun so far. On the first day we played games to get to know each other and we learned a little bit about paleontology. The second day we learned about invertebrate paleontology which was really interesting, and we went to the ropes course. On the third day, we went to the Wildlife Refuge and checked out some really awesome geology. We camped there that night. We then went to White Mound and found a lot of really cool fossils. I found a whole trilobite as my fifth fossils. We went camping at Sulphur and we tried go swimming but the water was to low :(. We played a lot of Mafia. It was awesome!!! Now we are back at Norman cleaning up some of the fossils we found and we are going to learn about insects!!!! I’m so excited to see what the rest of the trip will bring.
Kolton K.: These past few days have been amazing. We have gone to the Wichita Mountains, White Mound, Prairie Dog City, and have camped out couple of days. Finding fossils at the White Mound was a great experience that I am glad I got the chance to experience it. If found many of different fossils, but mainly I found brachiopods. We are all becoming very close together as the days go along. Our team work is very good, we get a lot done in a very short amount of time.
Gray M.: The second we went to the OU ropes course and worked on team building. Then we went to the Wichita national park and camped out there, we also spent some time with Dr. Nick. The next day we went to White mound were we found invertebrate fossils and met Mr. Roger and Dr. Steve, and we spent the night in Sulfur Ok.
Tiffany F.: On day one we got to know each other really well i felt. We had lots of fun playing games and learning some things from Dr. Nick. Day two we went to a ropes course and we had a lot of fun playing games and making us a better team. We really had a lot of fun playing the tarp game and the desert/rain-forest game. Day three we went up to Wichita Mt. and ate lunch, seen buffalo and prairie-dogs, and we camped. Day four we headed up to white mound and we found some really interesting fossils with Dr. Steve and Mr. Roger. We also camped and played some fun water games. Today we went to Vendome Well ( a sulfur water fountain).
Logan D.: It is great to be back in the civilized world, after three days of living in the wild. The first day we spent getting to know everyone by playing games and doing a teamwork ropes course. On the second, we went on a hike up the Wichita Mountains and had the ninja jump from rock to rock to make it up, but at the end of the hike, we got an amazing view of everything. White Mound was the next area we visited, and we found so many fossils that we got tired of bending down to picking them up. All of this is just by day 5 there is still more fun stuff ahead.
What an exciting day! We spent the morning in the vertebrate paleontology department exploring the collections with Jen Larsen. We were able to see some really interesting dinosaur specimens from right here in Oklahoma! In the afternoon we worked in the vertebrate paleontology lab cataloging museum specimens, micro-picking, and working on a field jacket with museum preparetor Kyle Davies. We had a great time exploring interesting aspects of paleontology that the public does not get to see. That night, we got to practice our paleontology knowledge with fun games and tested our museum knowledge with a scavenger hunt! We hung out and watched a movie and got to spend the night under the dinosaurs. It was so fun! We are having a blast and can’t wait to put into practice all that we learned today in the field next week! -Kristi and Jes
Amanda Z.: Paleo Expedition has continued to excite me with new activities. There was a blend of Macro Picking, Micro Picking, Cataloguing, and learning interesting facts about insects. These activities were lead by wonderful scientists, Kyle Davies, Jen Larsen, and Katrina Menard. The varying activities has managed to open up my perspective on the study of Paleontology. I am inclined to travel further into this exciting adventure.
Gray M.: Today we worked with Kyle Davies in micro-picking and macro-picking in a field jacket, we also worked with Jen Larsen in cataloging.
Alyssa H.: Today we got to micro pick and help with macro pick Kyle Davies and we cataloged with Jen Larsen. I cleaned “Logan’s” tenontosaurus tooth (I claim it as mine, because I did all the work). And I fixed it. Yesterday we got back to civilization, got to shower and got to catch bugs with Dr. Katrina Menard. We had a scavenger hunt in the museum and we’re watching Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs. I can’t wait for tomorrow too! I found a couple of crocodile teeth and gar teeth and stuff, and a lot of gar scales and some turtle bone and bone pieces. This has been so much fun and I love meeting a bunch of new people (i.e. the scientists) and drinking some mineral water that smelled like rotten eggs (quoted from Brad Sanders).
Logan D.: It is very good couple of days in the world of the Paleo Expo. Yesterday, we spent the day at the museum and learned about the bugs and how to catch them. Today we spent the day like a real life paleontologist, micro-picking, macro-picking, and cataloging. It has been a great couple of days.
Talon C.: Yesterday, we did some buggy stuff and Katrina! We were taught properly how to catch the bugs and all that cool stuff to do with the bugs. Today we went and did some micro picking, macro picking cataloging. I liked the Macro Picking lots better! We played in a jacket getting a rib out and various teeth! Micro picking was a lot of looking through a microscope with a lot of little things! We just went through a fun scavenger hunt! Now we get to watch Ice age dawn of the dinosaurs!!!!!!!! And have a nice sleep of under the beautiful roof of the museum!!!! Again another shout out to the Fam!!! Love you guys!!! See you in an almost week!!(:
Kolton K.: Days 5 and 6 have been amazing. We got to drink out of a fountain that smelled like fireworks and it tasted very weird. Swimming in the pool last night was great. Today we did mico picking and macro picking. I found a Deinonychus tooth today looks in a jacket. Over all the past two days have been just so great!!!
Lauren C.: Yesterday we learned about invertebrates which was so interesting explicitly how their mouths work! Today we got to micro pick, and Macro pick and found a rib. My personal favorite was cataloging with Dr. Larsen! Her office was so interesting getting to see all the incoming fossils and organizing them!
Tiffany F.: We have had really fun guys. Im glad we all got to hang out a little more.
Shanna N.: Today we got to work on field jackets and I was sooooooooo afraid that I would break a bon. But I didn’t!!!!! Yay!!!!! We also did some micro picking which kinda gave me a haed ache but it was still fun. One of my favorite things we did today was cataloging bones!!!! It was soooooo much fun. And for dinner we had Gray’s favorite food…… Corn!!!!! haha….. Tonight we are going to sleep over at the museum and watch Ice Age Dawn of the Dinosaurs. We also had a really fun scavenger hunt around the museum!!!!!!!! It was awesome!!!!!!
Rachel W.: Today we did lab work which was really interesting. We did micro picking, macro picking, and cataloging.
Morgan M.: It’s been super fun. Today we spent the day in the museum. Brad Sanders gave us an awesome presentation about Black Mesa and the vertebrate fossils we will find there. We spent the evening working upstairs in the lab. We worked on opening a vertebrate fossil jacket, micropicking small creatures out of gravel using microscopes, and cataloging bones in the collections room. Tonight we had a scavenger hunt in the museum and soon we will be watching Ice Age then spending the night in the museum under the dinosaurs. I’m having lots of fun and I’m very excited for the rest of the adventure.
Laura G.: Paleo Expedition continues to be fab! Cringe at my spelling if you will. Today was another educational day, filled with my favorite: doing various vertebrate paleo jobs at the museum. We got to catalogue some fossils with Jen Larsen, who is very chill, and learn how to “macro-pick” with Kyle Davies, which involves using various dental tools, exact-o knives, and others to get fossils out of the “jacket”. We also got to go “micro-picking” with the use of a microscope! That took lots of patience and I found lots of Gar scales. We had a fun scavenger hunt through the entire museum provided by Kristi and James, that was of course semi-challenging. I’m looking forward to once again spending the night under the dinosaurs and watching a movie in the Sam Noble theater. Yesterday we also got to learn about some recent invertebrates from Dr. Katrina Menard. It was great, I’m enjoying all these people here and I’m so priveleged to know and spend time with every one of them! Can’t wait for the OKC zoo and Museum of Osteology!
Today we went to the Museum of Osteology and got some valuable hands on experience with animal bones to practice comparative anatomy. After that, traveled to the Oklahoma City Zoo for exposure to live animals to use for comparison as well. Both experiences will help us better understand the ancient animals we are hoping to find next week! At the zoo, we got to tour the grounds and see all of the animals and their habitats. We got a special behind the scenes tour of the rhinos where we were able to touch and feed them which was really cool! After that, we took a night tour of the zoo and slept the night in the tree house where we got to see some animals up close and touch them! Tomorrow we begin our journey to Black Mesa where we will get to apply all that we have learned so far in the field! We can’t wait to practice paleontology and also discover the ecosystem of the area. We may not have internet up there but will update as often as we can! – Kristi and Jes
After going on a morning hike through the zoo, we departed for Black Mesa. It was a long drive but we were able to entertain ourselves with reading, games, car songs and of course sleeping! Once we finally got there, we set up camp at the cabins we will be staying in the next five nights. The landscape is beautiful and we can’t wait to spend more time exploring the area. That night, we had a big BBQ with the scientists we will be working with and the Whitten-Newman Foundation. It was a wonderful time and great to meet the people we will be spending time with in the upcoming week. – Kristi and Jes
Days Nine — 13
What an amazing five days! We have been able to work side by side with some amazing scientists. Dr. Nick Czaplewski, Dr. Kent Smith, Kyle Davies, Jen Larsen and Dr. Anne Weil have been exposing us to so many interesting specimens and helping us every step along the way to becoming great paleontologists! In addition to digging, we have been doing research on the ecology of the Black Mesa are with Dr. Katrina Menard. Investigating the insects of the area has taught us a lot about the ecosystem of the area which has been interesting because it has been so dry here. We are enjoying sleeping in cabins and access to bathrooms and showers! They are much needed after a long day in the field. We are having a great time and are making some excellent discoveries along the way! We appreciate all of the support from the Whitten-Newman foundation! Talk to you soon! – Kristi and Jes
Tiffany F.: We spent 5 days outdoors digging for fossils and learning new things from other scientist. We found some really interesting things. I had so much fun getting to know the other scientist. I loved getting to work in the quarry. Im sad its almost over though im gonna miss ya guys!
Rachel W.: Last week we all got to spend the night in the museum and the okc zoo. Later we went to black mesa to exevate dinosaurs and learn about entamology. We found sauropods, apatosaurus, turtles, and crocodiles. It was really fun to discover new things and to grow closer as a team. I can’t believe it’s almost over.
Shanna N.: For the past five days we camped at Black Mesa. I found a lot of bones in the quarry and got to help make a field jacket. We got covered in plaster. We went star gazing and played a lot of games. I had so much fun!!! I can’t believe that we only have two more days left. I’m going to miss everyone!!!
Logan D.: Welcome back world, after 5 days of living off the land in the wild, Logan is back! First we were off to the zoo for a night tour of all the nocturnal animals and to sleep in the tree house. Then it was off to the Black Mesa for some work in the quarry in search of the ancient remains of dinosaurs! It was four days of climbing mesas, catching bugs, finding fossils, and just having fun.
Gray M.: We are back in civilization, we were staying at Black Mesa state park for the past week. We were digging in the Homestead Quarry were we found parts of an Apatosaurus, part of a turtle, and crocodile teeth.
Laura G.: Wow! This past week has been so great, even though most of it was spent away from cell service and the rest of civilization. We got to spend the night at the OKC Zoo, which was quite the cool experience. We saw a lion out at night just chilling and it was really awesome to see. From there we headed out to Black Mesa State Park and the land owned by Whitten-Newman Foundation in that area. We had some great bonding time and were also allowed to work in the Homestead Quarry with some incredibly talented scientists (who were very patient) and a couple of other groups. I got to see Mr. Whitten and Mr. Newman once again, who were very sweet and interesting in what was going on in all of our lives and our interests. They are very wonderful people and it was great being able to see them a second time. Digging in the quarry was a incredible experience, especially going back and seeing the difference a year could make. We dug right by the bones Paleo Expedition 2012 and Native Explorers and such found last year, which was amazing. We found Apatosaurus bones, turtle shells, and crocodile teeth! We also got to climb not one but two mesas, the view from them was simply stunning, and all the while we learned about bug life from Dr. Katrina and survival skills from Dr. Nick. I’m so glad I could come on this trip again. All the people are so wonderful. I’m sad the program is starting to draw to a close, but I’m glad we still have 2 days left! Yahoo!
Amanda Z.: The past 5 days of Paleo Expedition was a blast. Varying activities at the Black Mesa ranged from digging in the quarry for fossils, climbing the mountains and seeing the sites from above, visiting the Whitten-Newman Lodge, setting up experiments, making fires, learning to owl call, and many more. Back at the camp site, there was also many wonderful experiences, from sleeping in the cabins to making our own dinner. This heavy packed trip was both exciting yet tiring. I’m glad to return back to “civilization” yet I also will miss the Black Mesa experience.
Kolton K.: The past week without service has been amazing. I loved being able to help the scientist in their studies. Uncovering bones was so exciting, you would be going threw dirt then next thing you know there was a bone right in front of you. These past two weeks have be the greatest two weeks of my life. I wish I could do it another two or three weeks but unfortunately it is over in less then two days. I have grown very close to everyone that went on this trip and I am going to miss them all. I hope to meet up with them again in the future. Thanks so much to all the scientist, Jes, Brad, Kristi, James and the Whitten/Newman foundation for allowing me this great chance of learning about Paleontology and everything else along with it. Thanks again!!
Morgan M.: Over the past week I’ve had a lot of awesome opportunities. I got to visit the Museum of Osteology, spend the night at the zoo and take a late night and early morning tour of the zoo. From there we traveled to Black Mesa and worked with Dr. Katrina on finding various insects around the area and hung out with the awesome folks from the Whitten Newman at their cabin. The next couple days we worked in the quarry. I uncovered multiple bone fragments, pieces of turtle shell, and a coprolite! I learned how to prepare a field jacket and safely remove it. We also got to work more with Dr. Katrina on our insect projects and with Dr. Nick on making a fire with just sticks. Bryan and Richard caught up with us on the trip and taught us about about calling owls. It was lots of fun. I can’t believe there is just a few more days left! I’m going to miss everyone so much. I’ve became so close to everyone here!
Alyssa H.: I really enjoyed the past week. Like, it was really fun and we all bonded really well and I loved the people here!!! I still can’t believe I sat on a cactus though. It was kind of funny, so it’s okay. I can’t believe that we only have a few more days left. I’m going to miss these people so much!!! We hiked two mesas and I found, like, four or five bones, and I’m so grateful I had the chance to do this. I really hope I can see the Whitten-Newman Foundation people again along with the scientists we’ve met!
Talon C.: Wow! We have had a busy and fun week! My group climb a mesa and saw petroglyph! Each day we worked half a day in the quarry with our wonderful Paleontologist, couldn’t have asked for better. We found a lot of Dino bones, well some were just pieces! Then other other half we worked with Katrina and bug! I liked looking at the digger bees! They were very interesting! While we were there we met some fellow scientists! Bryan took photos of wildlife and showed us some cool pictures! Then Richard showed and gave us a brief lesson on a prairie rattle snake! This is one of the best experiences i have had! I would like to thank everyone involved! Thank all the people at the quarry for putting up with my ” Is this bone??” and most likely the answer was ” no unfortunately that is a rock” but sometimes it was “yes that was bone”. Thank you again!
Lauren C.: The past week was such an amazing learning experience! While working in the quarrry we not only go to learn how to prepare fossils, but got to ask questions about the new findings in the paloentology community. I have never known how to survie in the wild but after hiking with Nick I now know what plants are poisonous and how to make a fire. Dr. Katrina helped us create our own hypothosis and prove them. I worked with Shanna to determine what taype of Hymenoptera were on the Whitten-Newman property! I learend alot about how the scientific process works and how somone my age could get published in a scientific journal if they follow it. I can’t Thank Explorolgy and Whitten-Newman Foundation enough to for this opportunity!
Today we spent some time touring the campus here at O.U. and working on our presentations. It has been an awesome two weeks and we have a lot of stories to tell.
Hi All! Today is our last day of Paleo. We have had an amazing time these past two weeks learning about Paleontology and working with our scientists. We have become a strong team and saying goodbye will be hard after an amazing two weeks.