Panama Day 3: First Day of Digging!

Lago Alajuela
Lago Alajuela. Photo by Claudia Grant

I was up today before the alarm even went off.  I was looking forward to my first day of digging. I did not know what we would find out at Lake Alajuela.  My curiosity was peaked the day before while listening to the interns who have been out on the field working in Panama for months now.  I was inspired by the detail of their work.  I looked at the puzzle pieces that came together to form ancient turtle shells.  I saw the beak of a marlin and heard the story of the sand dollar that fell from the mud as Mike Ziegler was digging.  What would we find on the field today and how would our findings contribute to the GABI Project?

We met the interns at the top of the trail and made our way down to the lake.  Three or four of us joined one intern and set off to explore an area.  Within minutes I heard someone from a group further down shout, “It’s a shark tooth!”  I was inspired to dig.  In the beginning I wasn’t sure what I was looking for but the scientists patiently worked with me to answer my questions and they showed me many examples so it became easier to spot a fossil.  I thought of my students and how exciting it would be to allow them a similar experience by simply planning a field trip to our local Seacliff Beach which is filled with fossils.   As the morning went on teachers and interns together found the fossils of dugongs, rays, birds, crocodilians and fossil wood.
Article discussion with Dr. Tony Coates. Photo by Claudia Grant
Article discussion with Dr. Tony Coates. Photo by Claudia Grant

The rain came and we moved on from the lake.  We stopped to admire the architecture and murals of Panama’s Administration Building before returning to STRI to discuss the article “Battle for the Americas.”  We were very fortunate to have Anthony Coates  there to enrich our discussion and thinking in regards to the article.

Immediately after, we listened to a CTPA Paleo-Talk: Great American Biotic Interchange: Sprint, Relay or Marathon given by Bruce McFadden.   The Interchange was a complex event and thinking in regards to it continues to evolve.    After just two days of being here in Panama, I am intrigued by the concept and the work I am doing with the GABI Project.  I sat down to have dinner with some teachers after a long day full of exciting activities and new information.  Although we were all exhausted, our discussion was lively and many questions came up.  We are so excited to take part in putting together more of the pieces as the days continue.  I am sure I will be up and ready to go again tomorrow before the alarm even goes off!

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