Tim presents a snapshot of life on the Dawson Field Camp during the July 2014 Yukon field expedition, introduces you to the crew, and talks about some of the considerations that go into ancient DNA fieldwork.
By Alan Cooper
Natural Trap Cave (NTC) has an impressive entrance pitch – which is concealed immediately below a large innocuous looking slab of limestone, in the middle of a gently sloping ridge overlooking Bighorn Lake on the border between Wyoming and Montana. As you walk across the slab you can see why anything with hooves, or running at speed, would have had no time to react when the cave entrance came into view – suddenly all the edges slope inwards steeply, and you’re looking straight down a hole, about 30ft wide, 100ft onto rocks at the bottom of a large chamber. As a result, over the last 100,000 years or so, a very large accumulation of skeletons has built up in the sediments below – standard herbivores such as bison, horse, and mountain sheep but also large numbers of carnivores including American Lion and cheetah-like cat (really a puma on steroids), many wolves, and even giant short-faced bears and mammoths. Continue reading
I began my PhD at ACAD with the colourful optimism that I would sail through it, no problem. I figured a PhD would just be a slightly busier extension of my fun-loving student lifestyle and I’d be getting paid for it! Woo hoo! I was convinced that the 3rd year PhD students were just being melodramatic when they told me to expect days when I’d cry like a baby because my experiments had failed miserably yet again, or my supervisor had completely shredded my latest piece of writing (for the 5th time). However, as I now approach my 3rd and final year, I realise that the 3rd years were most certainly not being melodramatic, and actually, the only similarity between a PhD student and an undergraduate is the discount on public transport! They were simply trying to prepare me for what was to come. Continue reading