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Showing posts from July 17, 2011

But... aren't you an archaeologist?

Why are an archaeologist and a paleontologist doing research in a modern game reserve?
We’re not digging up fossils and artifacts, but we’re looking for modern animal bones. Let me back up for a minute and explain… 
As paleontologists and archaeologists, our work often goes something like this: Dig up animal fossils. Identify what animals those fossils came from. Use “uniformitarianism” (the idea that the present is the key to the past, or that ancient animals generally had the same behaviors and habitat preferences as their modern descendants) to infer what habitats were present in the past – for instance, if we find an extinct zebra, we assume that means that somewhere near this prehistoric site was the kind of habitat that modern zebra like (open grasslands  - check out Nick's photo of a common/plains and grevy's zebra below... in open grasslands). Put the information from all the fossil animals together, and voila, we have a habitat reconstruction for our fossil site!

But han…