(un)Happy feet!

12 November 2008. Hezheng, Gansu Province (China)

Today I am staying indoors, away from the rain. I am working on descriptions of the fossil carnivore skeletons for the public outreach program at the Hezheng Museum. Raising awareness about the natural resources in the region and promoting scientific understanding in general are two goals of the new exhibits to be installed early next year here.

A small dilemma was amplified in this cold weather: I brought two pairs of socks, one to wear until filthy, then washed; in the mean while, I would wear the spare pair until the other pair dried. It's been five days and the washed socks are still as wet as the day I washed them.

I am not one to whine constantly about the cleanliness of my attire (actually, you do not want to hear how long I have been wearing my clothes), but the lovely swampy and grassy hillsides of Hezheng made for spectacular falls down muddy slopes. Our fieldwork here is bringing back memories of my field biology days as an undergraduate.

We spent a whole day yesterday in the hills southwest of Hezheng, near Linxia Basin's edge. There we could see the basement granite in the river valley, and trace the progression of Cenozoic deposits from the early Oligocene up to the Pliocene up the mountain. boundaries between the geologic formations have been defined on layers of coarse conglomerates, which are very difficult to correlate from ridge to ridge when the vegetation obscures much of the underlying geologic features.

Our trek took us over foggy peaks, where shepherds roam and livestock dot the slopes. Every half hour we would come across a small earthen hut, which is used for shelter by the shepherds when weather turns unexpectedly. Lucky for us, there was no snow that day.

We ended the day in a small village a few mountains over from where we started. The late afternoon had already brought the chilling fog, prompting the locals to light their stoves for warmth.

On an unrelated note, I took a photo of a pair of carnivores that died together; the large hindlimbs are those of a fossil wolverine, Plesiogulo brachygnathus, whereas the little carcass on its left thigh probably belongs to that of a fossil skunk. The preparators almost got rid of the crushed skunk before realizing it was not fossil junk!


1 comment:

Spencer said...

Plesiogulo longjaw?

Sounds tough, Jack. Your sock comment reminds me about something in a army veteran's diary I'm reading, which in turn makes me think, at least you aren't getting shot at, right?

Well, hope it's not too harsh on you. Sounds fairly annoying....