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RE: Fear and Loathing in Denver

        I was somewhat surprised by Dan Varner's report on the vert paleo
program at SDSM&T:

        -----Original Message-----
        From:   Danvarner@aol.com [SMTP:Danvarner@aol.com]
        Sent:   Thursday, November 04, 1999 9:05 AM
        To:     dinosaur@usc.edu
        Subject:        Fear and Loathing in Denver

        Dan Varner wrote (11/04/99; 9:05am): 

         After SVP I went back to my old stomping grounds at the South
Dakota School 
        of Mines and Tech in Rapid City. The joint is jumpin' with 16 grad
        in the vert paleo program. 

        This topic has come up before, and I don't want to be guilty of
starting another rehash, or of throwing cold water on Dan's excitement, but
. . . .  .  . 

        I have always been a student-oriented teacher.  I don't want
students working on something just because I am, unless it is for his/her
best interest.  I wonder why there are so many grad students doing vert
paleo at a single school?  There aren't going to be many jobs, if any, for
vertebrate paleontologists anywhere in the country.  It takes a long time
and a lot of effort to learn vertebrates.  That's time I would recommend
students with soft-rock and/or paleo interests spend learning physical
stratigraphy and/or sedimentology, with heavy concentration on sequences and
modeling, geophysics, and geophysical log interpretation.  At least then
they would have a good chance at landing a job when they get the degree.
The hottest area for employment prospects in paleo used to be Tertiary
forams and other microfossils of the Gulf Coast, but even that demand has
pretty much evaporated.  Dinosaurs are indeed much more interesting, but
that's not something you can take to the bank.  Learn a skill that will pay
the bills first, then do dinosaurs.  I used to be in a position to hire
people in industry, and given two applicants, one with vert paleo background
and one with sed/strat, I wouldn't need to think twice about which candidate
to hire.  Not only would I not push students into vert paleo, I would
actively try to discourage them.  Perhaps time will prove me wrong; we'll

        Maybe I'm a grinch, but there's a good dose of reality!