Saturday, 9 April 2016

Fossil Hunting is Usually Boring

I'm about to shatter your preconceptions: looking for fossils is actually pretty boring.

Now don't get me wrong here, when you find something it is brilliant. Reactions vary from a quiet, smug sense of self-satisfaction, to air-punching glory. However, for the most part you won't be finding anything at all. You will spend 99% of the day be crawling along with your arse in the air, searching the ground like you lost a contact lens.

Roger Close takes a closer look at a boulder.
To make matters worse, fossils are best found in dry conditions. I'm not sure if you know this, but Scotland isn't famous for dry weather. In fact, it's safe to say Scotland is a somewhat damp country, and the Western Isles may be the epicentre of airborne water.

So what I'm basically saying, is that despite the glamourous image of Dr Grant and Dr Satler brushing sand off the perfectly articulated claw-festooned raptor in the hot desert sun, the truth of palaeontology (in Skye anyway, and in many other places) is a long tedious visual scouring of rocks that mostly results in nothing, or at best teensy little jaws and teeth that are important to science, but don't make a Hollywood blockbuster.

Tenacity is the name of the game, and if you have it, it pays off.

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