One of my favorite places as a child was the American Museum of Natural History. While most kids would rush to the towering dinosaur skeletons, I'd stand, transfixed, at a small glass-enclosed display of skulls and try to envision what their owners had looked like – australopithecines, Neanderthals, a few others. I remember that part of the museum as The Hall of Man; it's now the Hall of Human Origins.
Discovering My First Fossil
I loved the museum, but yearned to discover things myself. That happened when I was in the fourth grade, and my parents took my sister and me to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. We couldn't have cared less about baseball. But behind the motel, we waded in a stream, where the angle of the sun on the wet rocks revealed striking patterns of stripes. I picked one up, and realized that it wasn't an ordinary rock.
It was a fossil. Edith and I spent the weekend collecting.
To continue reading, go to DNA Science, where this post first appeared.