Paleontology This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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The ground is steaming and boiling under my knees. I have been here for three hours swashing down ­water like a camel. Dust is forming little clouds around my fingers as I work. The shadow of my hat is my only protection against the blazing sun. This quarry in the Mongolian desert must be the inferno ­described in Scriptures.

I am obsessed. Brush in hand, I stroke the exposed bone protruding from the ground. Dust swishes into the air, sending puffs of ancient minerals to my nostrils. I need to dig deeper. I grab a pick and stab at the rock. Aha! A piece of shoulder bone, which looks to be around 60 million years old. It is just a fragment to the naked eye, but to me it is much more.

This is it. This is where I’ve always wanted to be. This moment in time is what I dreamed about since I was a child. Yet it took so much to get here. It began with four long years of school with thousands of other students and hours of seminars. Each one I attended cheerfully like a child dancing in a park.

But I would not be here now with just that. I spent two more years working on a massive paper, revising it again and again to absolute perfection. I defended it to the best of my ability, and it was accepted. It was worth having all those professors critique me, just to see my name published on the cover. Secretly I loved it.

And now I am in school again with more pressure and more details. But it is different now. I not only understand the lecture, I am the lecture and the lecturer. I have all the experience and more to become the most educated professional of my time.

But what is all this for? So I can dig around in the sand for old bones? No, I am doing so much more than that. I am discovering history, new life, and adventure. I am uncovering a creature that has not seen the light of day for millions of years. Better still, I am discovering information for the ages, for people, for life. This is what I am meant to do.

Back to the fossil beneath me. I will have to foil and plaster it for presentation in front of millions of people in a national museum. No, in front of the world! My discovery will be the highlight of paleontology as we know it. My name will appear in every textbook in every classroom!

I can feel the sun cooking my skin. But wait – what is this? A tooth imbedded into the shoulder blade? It cannot be. But it is. Yellow and tarnished from millions of years, it is the two-inch canine of a raptor. So this is not a raptor after all but its leftovers. That changes everything. I didn’t come all this way to find the prey. But maybe there’s more. A sandstorm is coming hard and fast. I can feel the wind increase and batter my skin with grains of sand. I must retreat to my tent now, but ­tomorrow I will continue my search.

Paleontology is defined as the study of prehistoric life. To me paleontology is not just a definition; it is a better way of understanding the future, especially mine. I know I will be that paleontologist, frustra­ted and digging hard in the blazing sun; the one who has had six years of schooling and is working on two more; the one who will appear in every science textbook around the world. My education and perseverance are my keys to this golden lock of a future and I will stop at nothing to achieve it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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Spark ! said...
Oct. 17, 2008 at 2:18 pm
very impressive...!
 
areallyniceguy said...
Oct. 9, 2008 at 11:57 am
this is the greatest writing ever
 
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