Rising Star Workshop underway

A number of readers have written to ask about my two-week-long blogging hiatus. I am in Johannesburg working in the new fossil vault with the Rising Star Workshop. I have been going from early morning to evening every day and blogging has taken a back seat to the extraordinary work being done here with the new materials.

I know that most readers here have been following closely the progress of the Rising Star Expedition and its discoveries. The blogging and tweeting from the field has definitely been a big part of how people have been following the story.

The workshop is a bit different from the field excavation. We have assembled more than thirty scientists from around the world to describe and explain the evolutionary significance of the remains. Most of the team are early career scientists who are applying their datasets and expertise to new fossils for the first time. The workshop is an intensive month-long marathon session giving them an opportunity to interact with each other and explore hypotheses. We are testing ideas, doing the process of science on the collection, and until the process has run its course we won’t really have any news to report. Unlike the field, where new fossils coming up from the cave are an occasion to share, our attempts to understand the fossils in the lab will take more deliberation.

So nothing to report yet on the science front. But I have been just wonderfully pleased at the collaborations that these emerging scientists have been building over the past two weeks.