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Field Trip!

October 2, 2012   

This past Thursday, I went on a field trip for my Invertebrate Biology class!  In class, we focus mostly on extant animals, but my professor wanted us to see some extinct inverts that are local to our area.  New York has awesome marine invertebrate fossils because it used to be covered by a shallow sea back in the Paleozoic period.  So for lab, we took a trip to an old rock quarry and went fossil digging!

First, let me just tell you how picturesque Central New York is during the fall.  Our drive was about forty minutes and we got to pass a lot of gorgeous scenery.  The trees are just starting to turn different colors, so the landscape was painted with rich shades of red, yellow, and green leaves.  It was such a perfect day outside, with the sun shining and the sky beautifully blue, that I couldn’t help but marvel at the magnificence of this area. 

When we arrived at our dig site, all I saw was a big pile of rocks.  I have been on an archeological dig before for artifacts from the Revolutionary War, but I didn’t know what to expect for a fossil dig.  How could there be anything in these rocks?  But, we set to work and I was soon proven wrong.  There were so many fossils in every single sample I picked up!  To uncover them, all we had to do was break apart big rocks and see what we found.  We mostly uncovered brachiopods, which kind of look like seashells.  However, the real gem to find was a trilobite, which resemble rolly-polies.  They’re not as common at this site, so finding a whole specimen was a difficult task.  I was not one of the lucky ones, but one of my classmates found one that was perfectly preserved.  It was so amazing to see all of these fossils of animals that were alive over 400 million years ago hiding right in our backyard!

On the way back to campus, I got to think about how awesome it is to have experiences such as this.  How often do you get to go fossil hunting with your friends and a professor who is extremely knowledgeable, helping you identify what you find and teaching you about the area?  As a science major, I feel so lucky that I am able to have a lot of hands-on experiences that enable me to enhance my learning.  I can’t wait until the next time I can go out into the field and collect invertebrates, whether alive or fossilized!