Check out some pictures from our Paleo Expedition 2015!
Paleo Expedition 2015 Blog
Every year, Expedition members get to share their thoughts, updates and discoveries on the ExplorOlogy Facebook page. Check out the posts and participant responses from our Expedition this year!
On their first day of Paleo Expedition, we asked our participants: What are your first thoughts of the program, and what are you looking forward to the most with Paleo Expedition?
Tyler H.: My first thoughts of this program are absolutely amazing! I have already met some really cool people and learned many cool things. I even got to observe the very first fossil found west of the Mississippi river. I am looking forward to learning so much more and growing even closer to my new-found friends here on the Paleo Expedition.
Christina H.: As far as the first day goes, I’d say we all got a pretty positive start. I met a bunch of interesting people who share my affinity for paleontology, and we spent the day breaking the ice and having fun. All in all, it was a wonderful first day! I’m greatly looking forward to the night we spend at the museum before we leave for Black Mesa; it’s sure to be an amazing experience. 🙂
Emily K.: I think this is going to be a great two weeks, and all the other participants seem really cool! I’m looking forward to having lots of fun and getting to know some really cool people!
Mackenzie C.: Today was a great first day to kick-start the Paleo Expedition. I’ve already met some amazing people who show interest and talent in the upcoming events and in the field. I am super psyched for the next two weeks! Everyday surely brings a new adventure that will test each of our abilities both in the classroom and in the field. Can’t wait to get up bright and early tomorrow:)
Townsend N.: Today is the first day of explorology, and I have to say that I am very impressed, as I was thoroughly engaged throughout the whole time. It was very interesting learning about the geology of Oklahoma, and the different time periods. I’m looking forward to Black mesa, and I believe there could be some promising opportunities for Cretaceous fossils! Here I come hotel…
Dominique W.: I really enjoyed meeting all the people here, and I’m glad there are others who are interested in paleontology as well. As for what I’m looking forward to, I’m excited for all the locations we’ll be going to.
Clay D.: As the first day of paleoexpedition concludes I can definitely say that I am looking forward to the next few weeks. I am totally psyched to go camping in the Wichita Mts. on Monday. I can already tell that this is going to be an awesome adventure.
Kyle A.: The first day of Paleo Expedition was very fun! It was very exciting to meet the 10 new campers and be reunited with a camper from the previous year. I’m looking forward to spending these 2 weeks with everyone and sharing all the experiences and memories with everyone. This year’s exploration is going to be great and I can’t wait for whatever is coming next!
Amanda H.: It was neat to meet the new team this year, there are a bunch of people who also want to study paleontology. I can’t wait to go camping in the Wichitas and Black Mesa again and I’m excited to go to the ropes course.
Karla F.: Day one is over, and I am excited to say that I am enjoying the program, the people, and so far, all the activities. Looking ahead at what’s planned, I’d say it is going to stay that way too! Today was icebreakers and one speaker, and I was thoroughly engaged. I am looking forward not only to the dig at Black Mesa, but to all the activities, from the Wichita’s to going through the collections here at the museum.
Adalia W.: It’s the end of the first day and i’m very exited to find out what lies ahead of me in the 2 weeks that I will have exploring, camping, meeting new people, and digging around in the dirt!
Marcela K.: Had a great first day, met Dr.Nick, really cool guy, can’t wait to hear more from him in Wichita. I’m not looking forward to the all the car rides, but it will be worth it once we’re camping under the stars, with fossils waiting for us underneath us. Its a nerd girl’s dream! I’m lucky and thankful that my loving parents let me do this! “I’m so excited!” (cue music) 😉
The second day of Paleo Expedition was a great one! We learned about invertebrate paleontology by studying invertebrate fossils from Oklahoma, before we took a “behind the scenes” tour of the museum’s invertebrate paleontology collection. We then spent the afternoon at the university’s ropes course, where we learned about teamwork. Our question for our participants: what did you learn about teamwork today?
Tyler H.: Teamwork is what allows great things to be accomplished. Without teamwork, some tasks can be near impossible. A team should be like a well oiled machine, and you don’t want your team to not be able to not function properly. Teams are important, and allow for greater things.
Emily K.: What i learned about teamwork is that it takes everybody expressing their opinions and views about the problem at hand, but also being able to listen to what everybody else is saying and being able to come to an agreement. Most importantly I learned that I don’t have to be afraid to contribute to the conversation and try to help figure out a solution
Marcela K.: It is really fun once you get the hang of it with your group, you become more relaxed with each other, and you enjoy more of our time together. The actives were really fun! We had beanie baby wars, mouse trap trust (it was intense) and balancing and standing on moving logs, all while relying on one another for support, safety and a successful finish! I can see that my fellow scientists and I are going to become close friends these two weeks. 🙂 <3
Adalia W.: I learned that there are people in this world other than my family who will physically help me walk across a beam, and “spot” for me. Reminds me of Kenny Loggins “Danger Zone” when I am balancing on a wooden board. Today was great and I feel way more comfortable around my colleagues. Although my legs are near snapped in half from being so sore, today was necessary for our team. Got a long way to go, but I’ll get there. The second day was a blast. We got to learn about invertebrate paleontology. The ropes course was amazing at building teamwork and communication between us. I can say that my legs burn with a passion after six hours in the sun, but its all worth it!
Christina H.: Teamwork is a valuable life skill, and I learned that if the situation calls for it, there will always be people ready and willing to help out and back you up. Getting to trust a group of strangers is hard, but immensely worth it. 🙂
Kyle A.: Second day of Paleo Expedition was a blast! We all participated in the ropes course today where we were faced with a series of complex brain-teaser problems in the form of games, which helped improve our team work skills. Most of the games went smoothly because we all communicated fairly well, but some did not go as smoothly because restrictions were placed on the activities making it difficult and showed how hard teamwork can be when restrictions are placed or there is a lack of communication.
Clay D.: Today was amazing! I was excited to see the invertebrate paleontology collection OU has! Today at the ropes course I learned that the two main things that drive success in teamwork are communication and cooperation.
Karla F.: Today we did a lot of activities which involved trusting each other and definitely were, for at least some, really intense, like mouse trap trust exercises. However, some, like the balance beam and a bunch or organization games, were trying to get us to work together, which helped me, and I feel like most of us get to know and trust all of us a lot better. The beanie baby wars were tons of fun and a crowd favorite!
Dominique W.: I had a lot of fun today! We learned quite a bit about teamwork, and it was really fun. We learned about how not everyone thinks or works the same way, and that everyone has their own talents that contribute to the group.
Mackenzie C.: I had the most amazing time today. Lathered in sunscreen and bug spray, our team took on the outdoors at the Norman city ropes course. I learned that teamwork involves many different ingredients such as good perception, understanding, cooperation, patience, and respect, among other things. I made friends that will hopefully become my new, and somewhat awkward, family for the next two weeks. You have my trust and I can’t wait to tackle our next adventure!
We are off to the Wichita Mountains to experience the geology of Oklahoma! We spent the morning learning the basics of geology and its applications in multiple scientific disciplines from geologist Tim Munson of the Oklahoma Energy Resources Board (OERB). This afternoon we’ll hike through the ancient mountains before camping and exploring the ecology of the area, which is also a wildlife refuge. We’ll hear more from our Paleo Expedition Team on Wednesday when they return from the field!
Today we traveled to the Sulphur area to visit an amazing invertebrate fossil site! The exposed rock is over 400 million years old and the remains of the ancient ocean animals that lived at that time have eroded out of the rock, so all we have to do is search the ground for them—no digging required! Later, we’ll research what we discovered before camping near the Arbuckles. We’ll see more pictures from the field tomorrow!
We are back from the field after a busy few days! We asked our participants: what was your favorite part of the Wichita Mountains, and what was the most interesting thing you found at the White Mound site?
Adalia W.: My favorite part of the Wichita Mountains was climbing and jumping across the rocks and boulders. I also liked eating the plants and berries that were on the trail after a survival and edible plants lesson from our curator of vertebrate paleontology. My favorite part of going to white Mound was finding a few rare Trilobite fossils.
Clay D.: My favorite parts about the Wichitas were boulder-hopping on the top of Mt. Scott and getting my own tent to camp in for the night. The most interesting thing I found at White Mound was a snail shell – trust me it’s more interesting than it sounds.
Tyler H.: The past few days have been awesome. The Wichita Mountains had some really breathtaking views, and it’s cool to learn how nature can create such amazing things, whether or not it takes approximately 100 million years. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect at the White Mound site, but if I did have expectations, I’m pretty sure that they were shattered. Probably the most interesting thing that I found was an inch-long horned coral. I look forward to the days to come.
Kyle A.: These past few days have been very fun! I’d have to say my favorite part of the Wichita Mountains had to be climbing around on the boulders, then settling to eat lunch. Now, at White Mound I had found many interesting fossils; my favorite out of all of them had to be all the Crinoids or even the piece of Trilobite. I am very excited for the rest of these two weeks and the adventures that await us!
Marcela K.: The stars, I’ve never seen so many stars before. The city lights back home, never allowed me to see all the beautiful little lights. I fell asleep under them, with the beautiful singing widow birds. We learned how to survive in the wilderness, at least what plants to eat. Going to dig into that at once home, learn more useful plants in Oklahoma area. That was all in Wichita. In Sulphur, we went to White Mound, which is really a big white mound full of white rocks and fossils! So many fossils, brachiopods, crinods, horn coral, you name it! But it was like the sun itself was drawn to the vast amount of 400 million year old fossils too. It was killer heat! But we all survived and with treasures to take home. My favorite piece i found was a heart shaped brachiopod, going to make some cool displace for it once back home! I also found out why the town of Sulphur Oklahoma is called that. just taste the high sulfur water they have! Eggs for days. 😛
Amanda H.: The last three days were great. We went to the Wichita Mountains and we ate lunch on Mount Scott. We had a lot of fun hopping on the boulders there. Later, we set up camp, made dinner (hamburgers and hot dogs), and played games. Deer and turkeys kept walking through the camp. We could hear Chuck-will’s-widows, Barred Owls, turkeys, tree frogs, and crickets all night. There were fire flies everywhere and you could see a ton of stars. We went to White Mound the next day and collected fossils. We found a lot trilobites, brachiopods, corals, snails, and some barnacles. I found a trilobite that was rolled up like a pill bug. That night, we camped at the Chickasaw National Recreation Center in Sulphur and we swam in the creek. Today, we went to the sulfur spring and came back to the museum.
Townsend N.: To me, the Wichita Mts, were most memorable because of their highly scenic views, and surprisingly cozy landscapes. Cozy is an understatement, as it was scorching, the entire day. My favorite part of white mound was the fact that all the fossils became my own, and the fact that I found pieces of fairly large Trilobites. Counting them is a pain. I enjoyed the entire day, now that I can reflect in a not so scorching environment.
Christina H.: My favorite part of the Wichita Mountains would have to be the beautiful scenery on the drive up the mountainside. Several people in the van with me were scared of the heights (understandably; it’s a pretty tall mountain) but personally, I thought it was a lovely view. As for White Mound, I found 2 trilobites! Neither of them were intact but the largest majority of fossils are not intact upon discovery, so I’m not complaining. Greatly enjoying the trip so far!
Dominique W.: The past few days were simply AMAZING! There were many beautiful things in the Wichita Mountains, and I had fun climbing on the boulders. At White Mound, I found a lot of brachiopods of many sizes. I didn’t really like the heat, but it was fun nonetheless.
Karla F.: It’s truly hard for me to pick a favorite part of the Wichita Mountains. I enjoy camping and hiking and rarely get a chance to do either so everything from boulder jumping to walking the trails to the survival lessons was tons of fun. At White Mound, I would say that while I found several very intriguing fossils, including a trilobite tail, the ones that I liked the best were the tiny heart shaped brachiopods that were only 2-3 millimeters wide.
Emily K.: The past couple days have been awesome, the Wichita Mountains were really beautiful and I’d love to go back and visit them some more. My favorite part has to be the boulder jumping, which was also quite terrifying for me because I’m kind of scared of heights. I don’t know if I found any one thing at White Mound that was the most interesting because to me they were all really interesting.
Mackenzie C.: Words cannot do justice for the beauty of the Wichita Mountains. It was absolutely amazing and I have never seen anything like it before. My favorite part of the day was climbing the massive boulders that have been there for millions of years. I felt closer to the organisms we have been discussing about in class, and could practically picture the landscape when dinosaurs walked the earth. Camping has also been a fun experience. Some of the places we have visited are gorgeous and very peaceful. White Mound was especially exciting because we could literally pick up fossils off of the ground. I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week looks like 🙂
Days 5 and 6: Today we traveled to the Sulphur area to visit an amazing invertebrate fossil site! The exposed rock is over 400 million years old and the remains of the ancient ocean animals that lived at that time have eroded out of the rock, so all we have to do is search the ground for them—no digging required! Later, we’ll research what we discovered before camping near the Arbuckles. We’ll see more pictures from the field tomorrow!
Today we visited the Oklahoma City Zoo and the Museum of Osteology to discover how the characteristics of animals today may be similar or different to ancient animals. Not only did we get to see some amazing animals and skeletons, but we got the chance to go behind-the-scenes with zoo keepers to learn about the adaptations of large land animals and see them up close! Dinosaurs were some of the largest land animals of their time, but we’ll have to wait a few more days before we can start excavating and hopefully discover our own dinosaur fossils.
We’ll sleep over at the Zoo tonight and take a night tour (if it doesn’t rain!) before starting the long drive to Black Mesa tomorrow. With limited internet access, we will keep you updated as often as possible but we won’t be able to post photos or Team member comments until we return to Norman on Friday. Be sure to check back then!
Days 8-10: It was a long drive to Black Mesa, but it was worth it! The views and landscapes are amazing. Sunday was our first day on-site at the quarry. We met Dr. Anne Weil from OSU and Kyle and Jen from the museum’s Vertebrate Paleontology department at the field site for an introduction to field excavation techniques. Dr. Nick Czaplewski took us on geologic tour of the Morrison formation, a dinosaur trackway site and a Triassic fossil road cut. We also started work on our research projects with Dr. Katrina Menard. Hopefully, we’ll avoid the rain tomorrow!
It was a long drive to Black Mesa, but it was worth it! The views and landscapes are amazing. Sunday was our first day on-site at the quarry. We met Dr. Anne Weil from OSU and Kyle and Jen from the museum’s Vertebrate Paleontology department at the field site for an introduction to field excavation techniques. Dr. Nick Czaplewski took us on geologic tour of the Morrison formation, a dinosaur trackway site and a Triassic fossil road cut. We also started work on our research projects with Dr. Katrina Menard. Hopefully, we’ll avoid the rain tomorrow!
Today, we spent our last day at the quarry. We excavated some larger fossils that we put in a field jacket (a plaster cast) that will be taken back to the museum to be prepared in the lab and identified. We took lots of pictures and will post them as soon as we get back. It was hard to leave knowing that there were more fossils just waiting to be discovered, but we accomplished so much in the short time we were here. Tonight, we’ll pack up for an early start to our trek back to Norman!
We said goodbye to Black Mesa this morning and traveled almost 400 miles today back to Norman. What an amazing trip! We can’t wait to share it with you all on Saturday. Check back tomorrow for photos and comments from the Team!
It’s almost time to say goodbye to the new friends we’ve made. Today we toured OU’s campus, ate lunch on the historic Campus Corner and created presentations of our experiences that we’ll share with you all tomorrow. From paleontology to geology to zoology and ecology, we learned so much. We were able to not only learn about the history of our world but also the process of science. What a wonderful two weeks!
Today is the final day of Paleo Expedition 2015! What an amazing trip and an fantastic group. Thank you to all of the friends and families who supported our Team this year. Keep in touch, we hope to hear from you soon. It was an unforgettable experience!