By Frank Wesselingh, Naturalis Museum, Leiden
What a torture: the whole group moving up north there where the fossils are and me staying in Samarinda for another few days where the fossils, at least our fossil mollusks, definitely are not. You have met me before: I am Frank Wesselingh, a mollusk palaeontologist from the Naturalis museum in Leiden, the Netherlands.
And a few days later, we are off to Bontang! Excitement rose in our car when the GPS’s marked the approach of the equator, but before we knew we had passed it. No line, no nothing! We arrived completely astonished into the northern hemisphere. Not even daylightsavingtime! (Luckily no icy weather and dark days either).
We saw the first group on the side of the road. The young researchers were carrying heavy bags full of fossils. We jumped out the car to have a very brief look in the small quarry. Between the zillions of corals, there were the …… shells and snails! Beautiful, this was what we were hoping for! Great reef faunas very well preserved. Delicate forms just waiting to be found and admired.
The first shells lying there waiting to be picked
The hotel itself turned out to be brand and brand new. For example there were not yet any knifes to come with the otherwise excellent beef ordered by several of us. It ended with a joint swiss army knife exercise, geologist can do anything! After the first afternoon in the field together with Sonja, my PhD researcher, and Aries, a geologist from Bandung, it was time to search for food. At six it gets rapidly dark so you find your way with a car through the dark city to spot a nice place. Once out of the car, the place turned out not to be that nice. Our Indonesian colleague asked a waiting police officer who stood next to us. Before we knew our three cars were chasing the police car with lights and sirens through the city to a beautiful restaurant. That was an unexpected hilarious start for me in Bontang.
The forthcoming days I hope to see with Sonja and Aries and Sonia from Bandung a lot of more fossil shells. As you can imagine I am very happy now!
And there are monkeys too!