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The many talents of paleontologists

The following casting call for a prequel to The Thing was recently posted by Dan Chure to the VRTPALEO list as an example of the unsung, multivariate talents of paleontologists.

[KATE LLOYD] In her late 20s to early 30s, pretty, bright-eyed, intelligent, she’s a graduate of Columbia and a Ph.D. candidate in paleontology (the study of prehistoric life). On the recommendation of her friend Adam Goodman, Kate is tapped for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity by Dr. Sander Halvorson to join his research team in Antarctica, where an extraordinary discovery has been made. Upon arrival, Kate soon finds herself at odds with Halvorson about how best to proceed with the discovery — an alien spaceship with a mysterious and sinister frozen THING found nearby — specifically whether to transfer the specimen undisturbed to a more appropriate facility for analysis, or, per Halvorson’s wishes, to drill into the specimen’s ice encasement for a definitive tissue sample. Kate’s misgivings about her involvement grow when Halvorson ignores her advice and collects his tissue sample — a critical error in judgment that ultimately frees the trapped organism and triggers a series of horrific incidents and attacks. Furthering her sense of isolation, most of the scientists at the site speak Norwegian, a language she doesn’t understand. Kate looks to her friend, Adam, for help stopping Sander’s obsession from getting them all killed, but eventually must take matters of life and death into her own hands. In the end, her only hope of survival is to join forces with Sam Carter, the chopper pilot who flew her team to the remote Norwegian base…

The question posed by Dan was simple and elegant: is there anything vertebrate paleontologists can’t do? The answer is also simple and elegant: speak Norwegian, apparently. We will address this with the curriculum committee soon.

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