A fascination with fossils: work experience with the Palaeobiology team

Living with severe anxiety and selective mutism has led me to be home educated and I thought the opportunities I had to do any kind of work experience would be non-existent. So I really couldn’t believe my luck when I got in touch with National Museums Scotland late last year explaining my condition and my great interest in palaeontology as a career, and I was invited not only to chat with palaeobiologists but also offered the opportunity to do work shadowing with the Natural Sciences department.

It was not easy for me as new places, people and situations are big triggers for my anxiety and I need to meet people at least a couple of times before I am able to talk to them. But this didn’t deter the department from taking me on. Everyone was so understanding and very helpful in the preparing this opportunity for me.

So in spring this year I spent six mornings at the National Museums Collections Centre helping to catalogue the Lamont collection of invertebrate fossils. This was hard work but it gave me the insight into the fact that palaeobiology is not all about digging into rocks and it gave me a great opportunity to look at fossils (and old matchboxes!) more closely.

Cael with Yves Candela and Sarah Stewart.
Cael with Yves Candela and Sarah Stewart.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank Rachel Russell for organising the placement for me, for going above and beyond in supporting me in this. And to Sarah Stewart and Yves Candela who made me feel so comfortable and relaxed, and for showing me a trilobite fossil that looked like a monkey’s face. You don’t get to see one of those very often!

Trilobite monkey
Trilobite monkey!

I would love another opportunity to experience more of the variety of work that they do. The small taste I had has made me hungry for more!

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