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BONES continues

The time at Ol Pejeta has been great! Fire and I have been walking around in the field, finding lots of bones for our study. Here's a zebra skull sitting under an acacia tree.



Our armed guard Robert is very interested in what we are doing. We've talked with him about how bones can help us understand the modern ecosystem, and he's taught us about some traditional uses of the plants by local people, including one that's use to treat venereal disease, and another to increase sperm production. Hm, maybe we could patent the extractions and get rich! No need to apply for grant proposals! :)





Did I mention that the scenery here is great? Here's a shot of Mount Kenya, with some Acacia woodland in the foreground.



We have been seeing lots of animals on our transects.



This giraffe tried to hide behind an acacia tree when it realized we were nearby, but we could still see it.



There's lots of different kinds of antelopes here, including waterbuck,



impala,



and bushbuck.



Many of the b…

bones and animals

Fire and I left Nairobi at about 9:45 am yesterday and drove to Ol Pejeta Conservancy, where we're doing pilot work for what we hope will be a long term study. Our project is called BONES (it took a long time to think of that cool an acronym!): Bones of Ol Pejeta, Neotaphonomic and Ecological Survey. We have several interesting research questions which we hope to answer using a study of bones scattered across the landscape of this conservation area. One of them is this: paleontologists and archaeologists dig up fossils, and we use these fossils to reconstruct animal communities and ancient habitats. For instance, if we find 50% grassland adapted animals and 25% forest adapted animals and 25% woodland adapted animals, we use this information to look at the animal community, and reconstruct the vegetaiton. When we do this, we assume that the types of animals we find as fossils are preserved in the same proportions as in the living community they came from. But is this the case? We c…

Briana: 1. Car: 1.

I got my car to the mechanic this morning just after 8am, as he asked, even though the car parts shops didn't open until 9am. I hung around, watching him fix a few other cars, and after only about two hours, my car was fixed - to the grand tune of about $11. Hallelujah!

Briana: 1. Car: 0.

Then, I had to go get the car washed to get all the oil off the underside and engine, plus power washing all the fine, brown dust from Shompole away. That cost about $20 and took another two hours. At that point, I realized it was too late to leave for Ol Pejeta today and get there before dark, so Fire (my colleague working on the Ol Pejeta project with me) and I went off to run some errands.

As we were pulling into the Sarit Center, basically the local mall where I do nearly all of my errands, I started to smell an electrical burning smell coming from my dashboard. Immediately after that, I noticed small wisps of smoke rising from the place where my steering column and dashboard intersect. Fire t…

always an adventure

Before we get to Lamu... I have to tell you about my weekend adventure.

My friend and colleague Aaron is the world's expert on striped hyenas, as far as I can tell. He did his PhD studying them in an area of Kenya called Laikipia, where I did some of my PhD research involving studying the remains of carnivore kills. That's how we know each other. Now, he's doing a post-doc study of striped hyenas in a place called Shompole, about a 5 hour drive south of Nairobi. Aaron told me recently he had some striped hyena chewed bones for me to study (cool!), and I should come down and visit, since he also has over a dozen dens of striped hyenas, some with cute cubs in them. So I decide this weekend is a good time to visit. My friend Emily and I headed off there on Friday mid-morning. We packed snacks for lunch and overnight bags - and we're off!

Aaron gives me pretty good directions down there, and since the excavation site I'd been working at is on the way, I get at least that…

the ring

Since a few of you asked... it's not the greatest photo, but here it is. I love it!

at the field site

So now, we've made it to the field site. (OK not in real time, but in my slightly-behind-the-times story-telling time). Peter gets a tour of the key areas of the camp: the kitchen, the mess tent, the bathroom, and the shower. We walk to the end of "camp cliff", and Peter quietly, smiling-ly, surveys the scenery. Finally he proclaims, "Well, it's not the Mesozoic, but it's beautiful!" (For those of you who aren't fossiliferous like we are, the Mesozic is the time period when dinosaurs lived - that's the age of the sediments where Peter's done his fieldwork before. It was funny. For us paleo-dorks, at least.) By the end, he liked the camp locale so much he was wondering how much it would cost to buy the land, set up solar- and wind-generated power facilities, and build a permanent research camp or a B&B!

While I was busy doing my work in camp, Peter had a great time exploring and seeing animals (he racked up a pretty impressive list of sigh…