My Path Through Research

The Trials and Triumphs of Doing a PhD

Another Day…Another Danish Experience

After yesterday’s scientific experience, today it was the turn of some archaeology and natural history.

A suggestion for this morning had been to visit a ‘Whale Museum’ in Gram, a town 10km away from where I am staying. Being close that option was plumped for.

What was in my head as the ‘Whale Museum’ turned out to be the Sønder Jylland Museum of Natural History and Paleontology. The museum consisted of displays of a lot of fossils found in the clays in the region, from tiny bryozoans to massive whales (hence the ‘whale museum’ title). Unfortunately natural history always brings back bad memories of my animal and plant classification lectures during my undergraduate degree, which rather dampened my interest in the subject rather than cultured it. At least the displays there were also in English! There were also pictures of a whale which died last month in Vejle Fjord after getting stuck there and the way its skeleton was cleaned…quite gruesome but quite informative.

The highlight of the museum however is a visit to Gram Lergrav, a clay pit in which you can dig and find your own fossils and shells. The high temperatures definitely meant that today was not the day for hard work under the baking sun, but being there it was a must to try our luck. We followed the instructions of the receptionist to go through a door, pick up some tools and head down to the pit.

I was a bit surprised that there was no instructions on best practice, how an archaeological dig normally works, or anything of the sort. We were just sent through to the pit on our own and happily dug on our own. I think they are missing something in not even providing you with some information on how things should proceed and what your finds are. But I guess that would require many more resources in what is essentially a small town museum with only one person on duty.

Having found a good deal of shells and snails, we were however happy with our finds and gladly escaped the sun’s hot rays.

Update: After writing this I was told that we were given some written instructions on how to get started, but as the sheet was in Danish I wasn’t shown it. So something is being done, though I still think a lot more can be done…if resources were available.

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