|Term||Start Date||End Date||Application Deadline|
Jun 06, 2020
Jun 21, 2020
Mar 15, 2020
An introduction to the practice of field paleontology at an approximately 10 million year old fossil site in the south of France
Excavate ten-million year old fossils, search for elusive fossil apes, and experience the beauty and wonder of French culture and cuisine. This program aims to provide students with an introduction into paleontology as well as a foundation in scientific methodology. The program will introduce students to potential opportunities for possible future work or study in France.
Click here to see a video from the excavation site!
The small villages of Cruzy, Quarante, and Montouliers are located amidst vineyards known for the local rose wine they produce. They are near the Canal du Midi which connects the Garonne River to the Mediterranean. Cruzy houses a local museum and the paleontological collections. Montouliers is very near the fossil site of Montredon, and Quarante includes a range of pleasant accommodations.
This program offers a unique opportunity for students to gain a hands-on immersive educational experience in France. The program will provide an introduction to the practice of field paleontology at an approximately 10 million year old fossil site in the south of France. Students will experience and learn French culture and interact with French scientists and local collaborators. This is an opportunity to begin to learn French as well as a chance to participate in all phases of a paleontological excavation. Students will experience the excitement of both endeavors as well as their associated trials and tribulations.
The course will take place at the fossil site of Montredon and the nearby villages of Cruzy and Quarante located about 250 km west of Aix-en-Provence and 22 km north of Narbonne. Students will stay in Quarante and split time between the the site itself, Montredon, and a local museum in Cruzy. Each day students will spend the morning at the site or the museum (in the lab) and then rotate to the other location after lunch. A series of lectures will be scheduled in the evenings and the program will be punctuated by field trips.
While students are on site they will learn techniques of excavation appropriate to the site, learn to make initial field identifications of fossils, learn to stabilize fossils in the field (including preparing a plaster jacket), and collect sediments to screen wash for micromammals. This process will include some basic instruction in stratigraphy and sedimentology. Students will practice their French on the outcrop and develop a basic vocabulary related to the excavation. Course instructors and visiting scientists will contextualize the site’s history and relevance to scientific questions concerning the late Miocene (for example, the nature of the environment represented at the site and the site’s relevance to understanding the distribution and environmental tolerances of Miocene apes).
During time spent in the Cruzy museum lab, students will divide their time between a range of essential tasks. They will screen wash sediments collected at the site and pick through the resulting coarse fraction to recover micromammals (for example, fossil rabbits). Students will learn fossil preparation techniques and catalog specimens recovered on site. Cataloging will include identification by taxonomic group and skeletal part and will be completed in French. Finally, students will have a chance to study the existing collections. This will include describing, measuring, and photographing specimens. In some cases, dental molds will be taken of teeth for later study.
The field program is a genuine scientific expedition and an exercise in the scientific method. Thus, students will be implementing that method throughout the course and program principal investigators will be contextualizing all activities in terms of larger scientific questions. For example, what does the site say about the ancient environment and were Miocene apes part of the local fauna?
Just as the program focuses on the science it is also a cooperative and collaborative expedition. This means everyone must eat, stay hydrated, avoid sunburn, learn to pee in the woods, manage personal needs, help resolve logistical issues, and in general work as part of a team. Students will participate in project logistics including responsibility for shopping and preparation of a French breakfast and picnic style lunch each day.
The full program will take 2 weeks of paleontological field work at Montredon (near Cruzy). The paleontology part of the program includes four excursions that will afford the students an opportunity to learn about the region and explore French food and culture. The program concludes on the summer solstice with the local celebration of the Fête de la Musique, a music festival originating in France and celebrated in 120 countries worldwide. At the close of the program students will have the opportunity to visit a Mediterranean beach.
This program aims to provide students with an introduction into both French and paleontology as well as a foundation in scientific methodology. The program will introduce students to potential opportunities for possible future work or study in France
June 6 2020
June 22 2020
|NJ Resident||non-NJ Resident|
Program Cost includes:
- Administrative Fees
- International SOS Health Insurance
Out-of-Pocket Cost includes:
The above costs are estimations and represent the known out-of-pocket costs students encounter during their time abroad.
Some of these expenses will be paid for prior to going abroad, such as an airline ticket, while some of these expenses, such as meals and personal expenses, will be paid in-country as part of your daily expenses. As you plan, you will need to budget these costs and spend wisely throughout your time abroad.
Dr. Rob Scott is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, specializing in paleoecology and diet in hominid evolution. His previous field work includes excavations in Turkey, Hungary, China, and Indonesia.