Sunday, July 24, 2011



ARTISTIC ASSISTANT: Paleontologist Barbie has a strong aesthetic sense and helps Hallelujah Truth in her studio when she is not out on the road finding her next fossil.
HALLELUJAH for unexpected relationships! HALLELUJAH once again for SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION and ART united that brings CURIOUS SOULS together! As recent as last December, my Chiboogamoo and I had a new curiosity move into our lives in the form of PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE! Since then both my Chiboogamoo and I have been happily collaborating with her in our respective CREATIVE areas. Upon her return to Decatur, Georgia, USA, from the east coast of Australia with my Chiboogamoo, she delighted me in agreeing to do this interview.

OAXCAN DINOSAUR WOOD CARVING: Paleontologist Barbie suggested I use this wood carving of a dinosaur from Mexico. Here she is explaining the way theropods threaten their prey.

HALLELUJAH: Why paleontology? Specifically ichnology?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Sure I’m an ichnologist but that is part of being a good paleontologist.

HALLELUJAH: Okay, but then why paleontology?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Paleontology is probably the most awesome science ever. You don’t need a lot of equipment, a lot of research money, or a lot of research assistants. You can just go out there and do it.

HALLELUJAH: But you do have a fascination with the past?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Of course I do. Who wouldn’t be fascinated with a 4.0 billion year history of life and how it evolved over time!

HALLELUJAH: I admire your SPIRIT and ENTHUSIASM. What drives you? What is at the SOURCE of your PASSION?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: CURIOSITY. Every day when I go into the field to look at fossils I WONDER what I am going to find.
LEADING THE WAY ON THE ROAD: Paleontologist Barbie, filled with excitement, stares out the road south of Winton, to the world-famous dinosaur tracksite at Lark Quarry. She has been looking forward to seeing these dinosaur tracks for a long time! (Photo and Caption by Chiboogamoo) See Chiboogamoo's blog entry about Lark Quarry. I also wrote about Lark Quarry in a previous blog entry about how scientists need to "re-envision" the stories they tell about the past.
HALLELUJAH: Can you give me an example?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Well, as you know, I just got back from a trip to Australia and I thought that the fossils there were wonderful because some were similar to what I had seen in North America but some were different. For example, the Cretaceous rocks formed in marine environments of Australia and North America both had a clam named Inoceramus and many ammonites. But these same rocks hold the remains of very different marine reptiles, such as Kronosaurus in Australia, but Mosasaurus in North America. Isn’t that cool?!

HALLELUJAH: So you are from the United States?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I like to think of myself as a citizen of the world.

HALLELUJAH: What do you mean by that?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE:  I think paleontology is a universal science that crosses all boundaries of gender, ethnicity, and nationality. Anyone can do paleontology if they have the passion for it, which I do.

HALLELUJAH: What is the most exciting thing you’ve done in your paleontological career so far?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Unlike math, that question is hard.


PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Because right now, everything paleontological is exciting to me, and I don’t see that excitement going away very soon. Each fossil is interesting. Each fossil is a potential discovery. I believe every fossil should engage us.

HALLELUJAH: Can you share with my readers of my blog, COFFEE WITH HALLELUJAH, when you started collaborating with Chiboogamoo and subsequently fell in love with ART as well?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Chiboogamoo had been a long time admirer of my work and the research I’ve done in various parts of the world. He and Andy Rindsberg invited me to northwest Georgia to look at Ordovician and Silurian rocks because they wanted to get an outside perspective on the rocks and fossils they had studied there for a long time.
TRILOBITES AND BARBIE: Paleontologist Barbie measures the width of Trichophycus, a trilobite burrow preserved in Ordovician rocks (440 million years old) of northwest Georgia.

SERVING AS SCALE FOR GEOLOGICAL PERIODS: Paleontologist Barbie correctly identifies the Ordovician-Silurian boundary here, an unconformity dated at about 443 million years ago. Silurian sandstone above, Ordovician shale below. (Photos and Captions by Chiboogamoo)

HALLELUJAH: Did you contribute anything to the work they did in the field that day?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Yes! We had an in-depth discussion about trilobites, which are only evident there through their trace fossils. We also found a trace fossil of a starfish that was resting on the sea bottom about 440 million years ago.

HALLELUJAH: Wow! And it really looked like a starfish, didn’t it! Now, can you explain how you were assisting Chiboogamoo in Australia?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I was invited to go on the field trip to the outback of Queensland to assist him and his students from Emory University. It was thrilling to be there with such enthusiastic young, potential paleontologists! But I was also aware of how I was serving as a role model for them.

HALLELUJAH: I saw the photo of you gripped in the jaws of an ancient whale. Do you think that was being a good role model?
SERVING AS A ROLE MODEL: While in Melbourne, Victoria, it was time for Paleontologist Barbie to examine some fossils and fossil replicas in Museum Victoria. “Looks like a skull cast of Dorudon, an early whale from the Eocene Epoch!” Here she looks at the spacing between the teeth toward the front of the skull. “This is the sort of functional morphology that can provide more than a few insights on its diet,” she assures us. Who could dispute her? Paleontologist Barbie, while investigating bite forces in Dorudon, demonstrates yet again why she is the honey badger of paleontologists, totally fearless and unstoppable in her pursuit of scientific knowledge. (Photo and Caption by Chiboogamoo)

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I wanted to show them that I was fearless about learning paleontology, and that I’m willing to go to the extreme to find out the truth of evolution.

HALLELUJAH: How do you do that in the jaws of a fossil whale?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Sometimes you have to put yourself in the place of ancient prey, then you will understand how those extinct animals behaved.

HALLELUJAH: What does the future of paleontology hold for you?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: I see more travel to see more rocks and fossils from many places and many ages.

HALLELUJAH: What are your tips for successful fieldwork?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Attire is extremely important. Notice I have a field hat that I wear at all times to keep the weather off my head. But I also wear light, loose-fitting clothing, and of course, proper boots.

HALLEUJAH: I notice that you are barefoot in some of Chiboogamoo’s field photographs.
TRACKING TURKEYS ON CUMBERLAND: Here, Paleontologist Barbie spots tracks made in dune sands by a wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), which serve as excellent analogues for small theropod dinosaur tracks that were also made in dune environments during the Mesozoic Era. (Photo and Caption by Chiboogamoo)

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Oh yes! Those were taken on Cumberland Island along the coast of Georgia, when Chiboogamoo and I were tracking wild turkeys, using them as analogs for dinosaurs. I found it easier to track these animals in the sand without needing to take the sand out of my boots. It also felt really good on my feet, but I don’t recommend it for amateurs.

HALLEUJAH: You are aware that Chiboogamoo uses you for geological scale in his photographs. If you could use any person, animal, or thing for geological scale in your photographs of fossils in situ, what would you like to use?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Probably a Brunton compass. Every geologist knows the size of one. For laughs, I would like to use a GI Joe—they’re cute dolls. For all my scientific proclivities, I’m still a regular gal.

HALLELUJAH: I would like to ask you a few SPIRITUAL ART questions—about your JOURNEY. How would you describe your JOURNEY?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Early in my life, I felt boxed in. But once liberated from that box confining me in my abilities, I felt I could travel anywhere. Stow away in someone’s luggage and be somewhere at once instantly. Like the way I’ve accompanied your Chiboogamoo.


PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: People have often accused me of being too artificial. Maybe even plastic, but I like to think that I have a real place in the world and can contribute in a more real way then those people who say I am inanimate. REAL is a desire to learn and share that knowledge. Like the way I have collaborated with your husband Chiboogamoo.

HALLELUJAH: How would you define SPIRITUALITY?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Every fossil has a spirit of the living animal or plant, and I feel like it is my job as a paleontologist to divine that spirit.

PERSISTENT CURIOSITY DIVINING THE SPIRIT: The Australian Age of Dinosaurs Centre has a large fossil-preparation lab, so Paleontologist Barbie took full advantage of this by learning more about bone preparation from one of their expert preparators, Freddy Hill. Heeding all warnings from Australia’s Occupational Health & Safety, Paleontologist Barbie gets up close and personal with this dinosaur bone while it’s being prepared. (Photo and Caption by Chiboogamoo)

HALLELUJAH: How does SPIRITUALITY relate or impact your understanding of paleontology?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE: Knowing that life is all connected through evolutionary heritage gives me great insight into the spirit that runs through all living things.

HALLELUJAH: Do you have a SOUL?

PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE:  That’s a really tough question to answer. Most people say I do not. But I like to think my soul is based on a quest for knowledge while having fun. I do think it’s important to keep smiling no matter what.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Hallelujah to forward thinking DOLLS and the PALEONTOLOGISTS who collaborate with them and understand their significant contributions! It is with immense love and appreciation that I acknowledge my husband Chiboogamoo for his work with PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE and for documenting their work together. I recognize PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE for spending time with me, HALLELUJAH TRUTH, and for delving into drawing, painting, and observing ART with the same enthusiasm that she has expressed towards her fossil work.
THE ARTIST AND THE SCIENTISTS: After her Queensland fieldwork is finished, Paleontologist Barbie goes to Victoria, Australia. Here she is thrilled to meet paleontologists Patricia Vickers-Rich and Tom Rich, as well as famed paleontological artist Peter Trusler. Likewise impressed with her, they give her an autographed copy of their new book, “The Artist and the Scientists” (Cambridge University Press). (Photo and Caption by Chiboogamoo)

MODELING FOR SKETCH CRAWL: Paleontologist Barbie participated in the international Sketchcrawl along with  the Women's Caucus for Arts of Georgia on July 23, 2011 at the Atlanta Water Gardens. (Photo by Chiboogamoo)

That’s it for COFFEE WITH HALLELUJAH! Soul blog with me about your experiences with PALEONTOLOGY, PALEONTOLOGIST BARBIE, and ART.


  1. What's your secret Paleo Barbie? How do you manage to be out in the dust and sun, and still maintain your lush hair-do, pressed shorts and perfectly applied lipstick? Glad to see you're into pottery and flower arranging as well as science. It's indeed a spiritual path to be able to manipulate the ephemeral beauty of flowers while pursuing ancient secrets found in stone. You're amazing P. B.

  2. Cool Barbie!!! Your pictures told an amazing story of her trip of exploration. So wonderful!!!

  3. Jing (Footprint of Water)! Thank you for your praise of Barbie in the Australian outback. She is a girl ready for intellectual travel! See See, Hallelujah thanks you for appreciating the complexity of Paleontologist Barbie's character!

  4. I can't help feeling we are missing something here?
    Palaeo Ken