Another post away from Washington, but some science and policy perspective from Petrified Forest National Park:
Ashley gave us a tour of the collections room and the paleontology lab. On a personal level I have always admired the work of paleontologists. Intense detailed work collecting and deciphering small details and labor intensive efforts to extract fossils from the ground and figuring out where they fit into our history of life on this planet. They tell us deep history, but it is a history that takes a great deal of work and study. Yes, it is cool to see petrified logs and fossils on the ground, but the story is hard to figure out. The history of life and certainly of the various reptiles is far from figured out with numerous changes and rethinking of things as new discoveries force reassessment.
The phytosaur skull shown above may be misleading as to what is in the non processed jackets. Often the jackets encase a loose mess of small bones that is far from understood at the time of collection in the field. Some hint within the initial digging suggests that the effort of collection is worthwhile. And one does have to picture the moving of that block of plaster from the field to the lab. Yeah for interns and volunteers! These are group projects.
A couple of thrills in the collection.