AMNH, Day 1

14 December 2009. New York City, USA

After flying out of Edmonton on the coldest December 13 on record (-46.1 C or -51 F), I spent the day on two flights with a less-than-pleasant 2-minute connection window in Minneapolis. I arrived in New York JFK International Airport at 2230.

I am to spend the week studying fossil dogs and hyenas in the famed Frick Collection of the American Museum of Natural History.

[east entrance of the American Museum of Natural History, with three of their current special exhibits advertised on banners]

On my first day I spent about one hour waiting for security to process my ID badge, and did not get around to studying the fossil specimens until 1100. I met the very nice Ms. Judy Galkin, who is in charge of the plethora of visitors requesting to see the fossil mammal and fish collection of the museum every year. I also greeted Drs. Jin Meng and Xijun Ni, both of whom I have met before in Beijing, China.

[Theodore Roosevelt Park, adjacent to the AMNH]

There are more than 50 cabinets of fossil dogs and 10 cabinets of fossil hyenas in the Frick Collection; each cabinet holding seven to ten trays of specimens. I though only briefly about the daunting task before me, and immediately began working. My goal is to photograph all undeformed skulls, examine under the microscope all lightly-colored teeth which show enamel microstructure, and mold five specimens of each major genus for microwear analysis of the lower teeth.

[the holotype specimen of Borophagus parvus, too crushed for geometric morphometrics analysis, but nonetheless very impressive to see on my first morning there]

Winter is pretty unremarkable around Central Park and the Museum; without the cover of snow (at least not at this time last week) to brighten the stern buildings, Central Park West at 79th was like an old man without cheery spirit. Spring brings much more energy to the neighborhood, the museum staffs say. Now be the season to work indoors perhaps?

[looking west into Central Park from the front steps of the AMNH east entrance]


1 comment:

Spencer said...

I'm really glad you write this's like the diary of a...wait a minute, you are a paleontologist!

Keep up the good work, and make sure to let us know what you find!