05 December 2008

weekly update: don't trust anything with more than four feet.

You guys, I had a near death experience yesterday. It looked like this:

This may appear to be an innocent pile of rubble, but LOOK CLOSER!

Those legs! Those eyes! Those weird little pincher things! It is a SPIDER, people, and I did not get into paleontology to get CRAWLED ON and BITTEN by sneaky arachnids -- and yet this little guy and his cricket friends decided to jump all over me JUST BECAUSE I chiseled through their home. Blech. This is why I, personally, prefer invertebrates that have been dead for 10-40,000 years. Like these:

Millipedes! Or centipedes! Or maybe decapedes! A-lot-of-pedes! Whatever -- something that USED to have a lot of feet, but doesn't anymore and therefore CANNOT CRAWL all over me when I'm digging. In the particular grid that I'm working in, (C-2/L2 for those keeping score), there's a thin layer of green clay in between two layers of asphaltic sand, which is filled with compressed plant parts -- complete leaves in some cases, as Ryan found a few weeks ago -- and tons of insect/arthropod/etc remains all around. It looks like this:

Well, it more or less looks like this. Pretend that our digital camera doesn't get all washed out when it tries to photograph anything remotely black.

Per our boss, Collections Manager Christopher A. Shaw, this seam of green clay may be a layer of oak leaf litter -- thus, Deposit 1 was once surrounded by a grove of oak trees.

Meanwhile, on Deposit 10A, excavation marches on! We had another near-death experience last week, when we found what looked suspiciously like naturally occurring asbestos. Fortunately, we were totally wrong -- it's nothing but Epsom salt, and we are panicky excavators. So, here's to not getting mesothelioma!

yay! not dying!

We're only about 20cm below the original surface of Deposit 10A. But so far we've found several pieces of tortoise shell -- almost unheard of at Rancho La Brea until now -- and a near complete pond turtle shell.


Michelle said...

At least we know now where to get some Epsom salt when our feet ache...

Pam said...

So happy to not have you dying by asbestos-related lung disease. So disgusted by depigmented, cave-dwelling, godless spider. So unhappy to not be able to dig on Fridays this month (December)as must do many senseless but somehow expected activities with the family unit throughout the waning solstice cycle. (From Pam)

Kirstine Steavenson said...

Does this mean turtles were smart enought to not get stuck in the tar, and the saber tooth cats were not? I knew it!

Spencer said...

That is one gnarly looking spider. What box was it in...and where?

Yay for epsom salts. Made me feel a whole lot better....