18 September 2010

Research Report: Mexico City

Whenever I tell anyone that I'm a paleontology student, one of the questions I inevitably get is 'Where do you do your field work?' When I tell them that I don't really do field work and that I do my research in the basements of museums, they usually say something to the effect of 'Oh, that's too bad.' Actually, it isn't. For one thing, the best science in our field is done indoors in collections, libraries, and labs. For another, I actually enjoy collections work (you can see a lot more fossils in a day in a museum than you ever will in the field). For yet another, it can take you to some of the best parts of the world. So far my collections visits have brought me home to Seattle, across the Cascades to John Day, to the great cities of California, to the university towns of the Rockies and Great Plains, to New York's unsurpassed temple to natural history, and now they've brought me to one of the greatest, most historic, and culturally rich cities on the planet. I'm writing this post from Coyoacan, a colonial town turned urban neighborhood in Mexico City. I've come to visit the collections of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in order to expand the scope of my dissertation to all of North America rather than just the US. While I've made an avowed effort to cut down on travelogue-type entries on this blog, this is the first international research trip I've taken, and as such a few posts from south of the border might be of more general interest than the usual "this is what I did today and this is what I think of it" travel update. I'll do my best to supply a few of these posts on the state of my research and of paleontology and science in Mexico during the duration of my visit this week, so stay tuned.

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