Explorer's excerpts I: Andrews on fossil prospecting

Below is an excerpt from Roy Chapman Andrews' (American Museum of Natural History) reflection on his expeditions to Outer and Inner Mongolia:

"...I am hardly philosophical enough for a palaeontological collector. Disappointments and successes send me too easily into the blackest depths or to the pinnacle of happiness, and particularly I cannot curb my impatience sufficiently when a specimen has been found. Walter Granger or any of the other trained men are content to work away the matrix around a fossil with a camel's-hair brush, grain by grain, waiting for the specimen to develop as they go down. Theirs is admittedly the proper way to proceed, but pick-and-shovel methods, which at least give quick results, are suited naturally to my restless spirit. Perhaps a complete skeleton or a priceless skull lies below that bit of projecting bone, and I simply cannot wait for days to know. Therefore, whenever one of the men is engaged upon the delicate operation of removing a specimen, the chief palaeontologist issues an ultimatum to the leader of the Expedition: 'Thou shalt not approach this sacred spot unless thy pick is left behind.' "

~On the trail of ancient man (1926), p.213

[this excerpt embodies a common struggle between expedition leaders and crews. How do you know you are working with enough care without being too inefficient? We are often on a time crunch, but still have the goal of extracting intact specimens. Only years of field experience can one master patience and efficiency both.]

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