On my third day in Berlin, I was unsure exactly what I would be doing. My contact there had told me only palaeo was an option and that I’d find out on the day. Unfortunately most of the department were at a conference out of town, with only a skeleton crew left at the museum (not literally skeleton, despite being a natural history museum).
I was passed on to a lady in palaeobotany (Catrin Puffert) who had some work for me to do. It was a shame to not be able to see the collection in the same way as I had the previous two days, but some hands-on work experience would be just as useful. Catrin was going through some cabinets of fossils that had undergone a change of location and checking to see what was what. My job was to go through, drawer by drawer, and check the contents against a print-out. On the sheet, I had to either tick the location number (corridor : cabinet/drawer number : side) if it was correct and, if not, write down the new location.
Once I had completed that job, I was shown to a computer and the palaeo department’s database. It was straightforward to use and I was trusted with inputting the information I had just collected onto it. Like all the departments at the museum in Berlin, palaeontology had its own unique database, with a tailored set of fields; I set about adding the data, marvelling at its ease of use.
Once I had finished editing the database, I had one more job to do. There was a cupboard full of fossils and I had to look at each one and write down their inventory numbers. Out of over 50 fossil ferns, only four of them were numbered. After that, I was free to go.
As I said, it was a shame that I didn’t get to see the collection properly; I only saw two cupboards (in great detail). Helping Catrin with a fundamental curatorial job was useful though, and I appreciated getting to use another database system. Next: arachnids and fish!
(Since this post is quite light in terms of photos, here’s one of some of the dinosaurs in the main hall.)