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Re: The (long) future of paleontology
At 4:31 PM -0700 1/16/06, frank bliss wrote:
>There is also a lot to be said for the process of actually being "in the hole"
>with the fossils. No current technology has instinct, hunch, inspiration (or
>perspiration) and intuition. Past experience is invaluable when "deciding"
>where to dig. I walked up to a new outcrop once, studied it a bit, climbed up
>to a likely spot and sank my pick on the third swing into an isolated t-rex
>tooth (shattered it into 50 pieces since rebuilt). There weren't 4 other
>fossils come off of that outcrop. Call it serendipity but I call it past
>experience combined with hunch which is something that no technology (given
>the size of the world) can accomplish within the next hundred years.
Good point. What I would hope technology could do is analyze a different set of
clues than the human eye and brain pick up. A good example is the ultraviolet
illumination used to highlight the bones in the new Wyoming/Thermopolis
Archaeopteryx. The bones jump out at the viewer rather than trying to hide
because they're just a shade different than the matrix.
Jeff Hecht, science & technology writer