Home > Australia > Injuries sustained in pursuit of science

Injuries sustained in pursuit of science

Hi Everyone, Sorry for the long, long absence. You see,  I had been staying  in Adelaide for several months, where I only had a dial-up connection. It was very slow and well it was my holiday. There was so much to do, so much to show my children that hey, why try to blog? I’m back in Jozi now however so let the blogging commence!

Okay, its not a great lead photo, nor a truly tragic injury  but I did smash my toe in the name of research(I might add that this photo was taken two months afterwards – at the time of the injury my toe resembled a plum in both colouration and sphaericity!). To explain how it happened: I was here.‘Here’ in this are the cliffs of the River Murray, just south of the town of Morgan. Notice all those limestone benches? They belong to the Bryant Creek Formation (formerly the upper Morgan limestone) and I have scrambled over them for the best part of twenty five years of my life. They are, or at least were, solid. This time however one just gave way under me when I stood on it. Down I fell, followed by what was probably a 300 – 500 kg block of limestone. Miraculously the only part of me that got trapped under the block was my left foot. Even more miraculously, instead of slpatting my toe into a bloody pulp, it simply drove my foot into the deep loose sand that accumulates under the ledges (it also helped that the block slid down rather than straight out falling).

So all was well and I was even able to go on collecting. This is what I was after.That’s right! Sea shells. Or more accurately, the spaces where sea shells used to be. No-one has ever really bothered with these, even palaeontologists deeply interested in sea shells, mostly because immediately below the Bryant Creek Formation is the Cadell Formation. This is a soft marl crammed with easily collected shells in an excellent state of preservation so why go through all the trouble of splittng large limestone lumps in the blazing aussie sun for a handfull of specimens when there is a trove of easily collected gems a few metres downsection?  However it was not specimen shells that I was looking for, rather I wanted to see the changes that were occurring in the mollusc faunas after the Cadell Formation was deposited. And what a scientific bonanza these Bryant Creek molluscs turn out to be. Apart from lots of new records for the Miocene of South Australia I found a bunch of new species. And not just small variations on species from the Cadell Formation, these were unexpected taxa that give excellent clues to changes in palaeohabitat, changes in ocean currents  in southern Australia and the evolution of very wierd groups.

I’ll blog about this work, interspersed with a bunch of dino-related stuff.

cheers to all – its good to be back on the blogs.

Categories: Australia Tags: , ,
  1. February 12, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Good to have you back and blogging Adam. And you could be starting a whole new genra of posts here – research injuries. Sadly I don’t have any photos of mine, but I have accrued a fair few over the years and we can’t be the only ones.

  2. lockwooddewitt
    February 12, 2010 at 9:41 pm

    I guess in most contexts, having a toe transformed into a plum-shaped blob wouldn’t be considered “lucky.” But going over a rugged hillside with a 400+/- kg boulder? You’re just plum lucky to be alive. Thanks for the story and pictures.

  3. April 8, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    Thank heavens that heavy rock missed most of you and kept going! Are you going to modify your procedure, e.g. rope to something above so that the rocks leave you behind next time?

  1. September 12, 2010 at 4:05 am

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