Living in New York, you get used to the hustle and bustle of crowded roads, trains, and sidewalks. Push or be pushed. What struck me first about Marmarth was its quietude, which stands in stark contrast to the clamor of New York. Marmarth is a small town where you have time to stop and get to know someone. People here are convivial and patient. Drivers don't rush you to cross the street.
Once we began excavating at Camel Butte with my group from Yale University and Brooklyn College, I discovered that it was not always this quiet. We can see that by the multitude of fossilized remains of creatures that roamed this region millions of years ago. Seeing them all was like living inside a history book. Our goal for this excavation was to locate mammalian teeth from the Paleocene strata. It was exciting that we were able to pick a few teeth out from our matrix just when we were screening on the butte. We also uncovered evidence of many other animals that once populated the area, including crocodiles, turtles, and gar. We also had the opportunity to prospect lower on the butte in the Cretaceous strata and found an assortment of different dinosaur fossils, which is something I never thought I'd experience.
I enjoyed my time picking through our matrix, late at night, looking through giant piles of rocks for little tiny fossils and I've grown to enjoy hiking up Camel Butte and sliding back down after a long and windy day. I'm glad I was able to complete this field school with other students, all of whom I have established friendships with and look forward to working with again in the following year.
This trip has been marked by a number of profound episodes. I believe studying how our world has arrived to where it is today is one of the most intriguing challenges there is. With each day we increase our understanding of our neat planet and I'm fascinated in observing where this research takes us.
I owe much gratitude to my professor, Dr. Stephen Chester, and to his colleague, Dr. Eric Sargis, and all of the people at the Marmarth Research Foundation.