Here’s what we do in the deep, dark recesses of the museum

May 30, 2012 

Let’s face it, if we posted everyday about our research the posts would be one line – “We measured ‘x’ amount of eggs today.” But fear not, general public, we are going to catch you up on what we have been doing for eight hours a day in the deep dark recesses of the Zhejiang Natural History Museum!

This is the research room in the Zhejiang Natural History Museum where we study and measure the eggs. (Photo by Christian Heck).











As has been mentioned before, our research group consisting of nine students has split into several smaller “teams” to tackle different research questions simultaneously. (Teams is a bad word to use since it infers competitiveness when, in fact, we are all working toward the same common goal, just taking different paths along the way). So why don’t we introduce the starting line-ups for these groups and let them catch you up on their progress?

C&H Inc. (Hannah Wilson and Christian Heck)

C&H Inc. work on strikes and dips. (Photo by Anita Moore-Nall).

What can the crushing patterns in these eggs tell us about the taphonomic processes that affected these eggs? Using scientific interrogation methods, these crushing patterns will tell us anything we want to hear.







Team Hatching Windows (Bob Rader, Michael Bustamante, and Heather Davis)

Team Hatching Window (Photo by Christian Heck).

What defines a “Hatching Window?”  Team Hatching Windows hopes to “polish” these windows and build a framework for determining a hatching window within the Tiantai Eggs





Team Strider (Ian Underwood and Paul Germano) 

Ian Underwood (back left) and Pal Germano of Team Strider (Photo by Christian Heck).

Ian and Paul have the task of refining past research on eggshell thickness and determining  changes in thickness across the egg surface. How do you do that, you ask? Well, I think it’s best if they explain that later.





The Lone Ranger (Danny Barta) 

Danny Barta examines an egg’s macrostructrual characteristics. (Photo by Christian Heck).

Besides giving a helping hand to the other teams (Danny was on the 2010 research team), he is also examining the various ootaxa (egg types) found in the museum and forming hypotheses about evolutionary relationships among the ootaxa (This is also the subject of his master’s thesis).



Team Anita (Anita Moore-Nall)

Anita Moore-Nall, left, provides advice to Heather Davis. (Photo by Christian Heck).

Who needs a clever team name? Not Anita. Anita has been providing an ever-important need: geology expertise. That’s not all though, Anita is also examining clutches of eggs and the relationship between reduction spots in the matrix to taphonomic processes.




I assume for the general public, and most other people, these two sentence summaries have left you with one thought: “Whaaaaaattt?” That’s understandable, so how about each team takes its individual eggs from the collective basket and “hatches” out a more in-depth analysis?

Blog post by Christian Heck




May 29, 2012

We have been in Hangzhou now for nine days.  Students in the group have formed working teams and are very focused on projects which were formulated after reviewing the work from the past two years of IRES students and some brainstorming.  The mornings are spent working at the museum, and lunchtime and evenings are open for exploration and immersion in the culture.  Food venders are a way to get a taste of China both in the culinary sense and culturally.  There seem to be stands that appear along the streets at different times of the day, but are especially notable at night. A nightly group of food stands sets up along the sidewalk between our hotel and the museum, which is just across the street.  Vendors set up portable sturdy blue canopy tents, chairs and tables.  The food available is all freshly prepared.  One night after a long walk downtown, several of us stopped and sampled some grilled scallops that were prepared with chopped garlic, other seasonings and some clear noodles.  These were delicious.

Michael Bustamante, Bob Rader, and Heather Davis, from left, enjoyh some street vendor scallops. (Photo by Anita Moore-Nall).

The challenges of exploring the area can be as basic as crossing the road.  There are stop lights with signals though sometimes these are not as straightforward as they appear, as traffic continues to flow and pedestrians simply weave their way quickly and gracefully across the road. One has to be aware of the separate moped/bike lane which is one the side of the main road and negotiate across this first. Bicycles and mopeds are some of the main modes of transportation for many people.

The primary transport in Hanzhou: mopeds and bicycles. (Photo by Anita Moore-Nall).

  When it is raining, cyclists are usually equipped with rain ponchos especially designed for the bicycles.  Umbrellas are sometimes carried as an alternative to ponchos, and can be occasionally seen on sunny days as well. Some mopeds have specially designed umbrellas which attach to the back of the moped and provide shade.

Monday, May 28th, was a free day for the group since the museum was closed.  Most of the group walked to West Lake, which is one of the most famous lakes in China. The lake is about 3 km long and almost 3 km wide. There are two causeways, the Bai Ti and the Su Ti which split the lake into sections. There are a number a couple small islands in the lake. One is referred to as “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon” which is depicted on the 1 yuan paper money bill.  We took a small ferry boat to this island and walked around.

The famous West Lake of Hangzhou. (Photo by Anita Moore-Nall).

The lake is a national park and many people come and enjoy the area.








We saw some local musicians playing the Erhu, a two-stringed bowed instrument, and singing. The music and energy were great. 

Local musicians play the Erhu near West Lake. (Photo by Anita Moore-Nall).








We also saw parrots which were available by one vender to hold.

Michael Bustamante holds a parrot at West Lake. (Photo by Anita Moore-Nall).








Often when members of our group are walking around exploring, they are asked to be part of a picture.

Danny Barta gets asked to have a picture taken with him, a common occurence for some of our team members. (Photo by Anita Moore-Nall).










The sights we see daily add to our appreciation for the culture.

Blog entry from Anita Moore-Nall

Anita Moore-Nall enjoys corn on the cob at West Lake.







This entry was posted in Updates. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s