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Paleontologist

Typical Day

Ken Kingdigger grunts at the 95-decibel alarm as he rolls over in bed. He's been putting in way too many late hours at the museum recently and he's not getting any younger. Ken stabs at the alarm to turn it off, and stumbles into the shower before he can collapse back into bed. Once he's immersed in the blistering hot water, Ken starts to loosen up and gather his thoughts. By the time he showers, dresses, and pours his morning coffee, Ken's reasonably coherent and ready to return a few emails from the crew in the field.

Ken's excavation team buddies have been working on a promising fossil dig a few hours away, and they've been burning the midnight oil quite a bit lately. They've actually unearthed a few almost-intact fossilized creatures, which the team carefully packed up and drove back to Ken's office. This morning, Ken begins the tedious process of unpacking the crates, cataloguing and photographing the fossils before any more hands rifle through them. Really, the more hands a fossil passes through, the greater the chance someone will drop this priceless artifact.

Arriving at his office a little before 9am, Ken eyes the crates carefully stacked in one corner of his office. Not much room to work, he thinks, but the guys don't have much room to dig, either. Ken lifts one crate onto his work table, pries open the boards nailed across the top, and pulls out the triple-wrapped rock/fossil combo like a kid at Christmas. This is absolutely the best part of the job, Ken thinks. Worth every bit of that awful master's thesis.

Three hours later, Ken's muscles are screaming from lifting six crates' worth of rocks onto his work table and then back to the service cart that will transport them to the museum's warehouse. He's also bleary eyed from staring at tiny bones with his magnifying glass. He's given his camera's micro lens a real workout, and has also made detailed notes about each fossil. Even though these fossils won't be assembled into a collection until the team has completed its work, Ken would prefer to get everything buttoned up and put into storage for now.

Time for lunch already—how is that possible? Ken loads a copy of the team's field notes onto his iPad and hops into his car for a quick lunch at the bistro down the street. He grabs a booth so he can stretch out while he flips through the notes and jots down exhibit display ideas. Ken can't seem to get his creative juices into gear at the office, so he uses his lunch break to sketch out exhibit diagrams and make supplies lists.

When Ken returns to the office, the warehouse crew has picked up the crates, which means one less thing to trip over this afternoon. He sends his assistant a supplies list for the next exhibit, aware he should have done this a week ago. Although each case's fossilized creatures are only a few inches long, the exhibit will hopefully provide a nice time capsule of the species that existed during this time period. Ken's especially concerned he'll lose the kids, who are so wrapped up in video games and smart phones that their attention span for anything else is non-existent. Ken's got some ideas, but he'll have to work with the museum's graphic designer and interactive specialist to pull it off. Good thing he's got several more weeks before the exhibit's set to go live.

Now it's time to check in with the field crew. They're ready to wrap up their outside work for the day, as they've been at it since sunup. They'll spend the evening making sense of the day's observations, which they'll send to Ken tomorrow morning. In the meantime, Ken must sketch out a paper he'll present at a conference in Hawaii this January. Ken hates to write, but he knows he can't get away with this boondoggle...er, trip, unless he produces something reasonably convincing. He gathers his research notes, hoping he can tear himself away from the football game long enough to create an outline.

Ken also needs to prep for a meeting with the museum director tomorrow morning. Ken knows the museum director can easily tell when he is trying to wing it—wonder how Ken knows that. He pulls the car into his driveway, kicks off his shoes in the kitchen, and pops open a soda. Too quiet, Ken thinks, so he decides to enjoy a movie with his dinner. He throws some leftovers into the microwave, cues up Jurassic Park for the 30th time, and waits for the carnage to begin.

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