Learning to find fossils and watch out for insects

01/09/2014

Here our days start early at 5am, because by 9pm it’s already dark, and there is a lot to get done.

The excavation site

After breakfast we scanned a huge rhino skull, made up of two parts, the upper and lower jaw. Within an hour we managed to create an amazingly detailed model, scanning both parts separately: you can even look inside the “mouth” and examine each tooth in close detail.

Today we went to our first excavation site, the one closest to the camp. They haven't found anything outstanding here yet, but they are sure to do so - the area is so rich with fossils. Louise also taught us how to distinguish fossils by their color, structure and pattern. Suddenly we were able to see that there were fossils literally EVERYWHERE, scattered about the ground in huge numbers.

Hippo fossil: phalanges

It was windy in the desert, so Louise decided to photomap the area. She fixed the camera to a kite, and launched it. It films in high resolution at a height of about 50 meters. Meanwhile Francisco had a chance to talk to local volunteers. They say that 10 years ago their lives were very different: there was poverty and only a slim hope of getting a job in a distant town. Louise Leakey’s family gave locals an opportunity to work, to help paleontologists, and the possibility to change their future. They love Leakey with all their heart and are very grateful.

On our way back to the camp we were lucky to meet a local jaeger, who granted us permission to enter the National Park, where the other sites are situated. Tomorrow we are going there to scan some prehistoric giants.

Francisco with local volunteers at the Turkana camp

We have one small problem though. After it rained yesterday, insect numbers have gone off the scale! Grasshoppers kept on jumping into my soup during dinner! Mosquitoes, ants, mice, bats, and scorpions have all come out to join us as well. It’s getting a bit crowded here. The scanners have been working great so far, let’s just hope none of the bugs crawl inside them...

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