I have to admit I felt a bit foolish this evening. I went to see a lecture by Brian Richmond about hominid bipedalism, although the name didn’t register with me. So I’m sitting there in front, watching him talk about Orrorin and how there haven’t been any good studies about it, all the while thinking “How could he have missed that Science paper about the femur of Orrorin being most morphologically similar to those of australopithecines?” My own unfamiliarity with “who’s who” in anthropology made me feel a bit sheepish when I realized that I was looking at the guy who did that study, d’oh!
I haven’t done much better in terms of paleontology. When the news of dromeosaur tracks broke I wrote a piece about the discovery. I didn’t realize that Jerry Harris, a frequent visitor of this blog, was one of the authors of the paper! Sometimes I think my relative ignorance is good as I am often more careful with what’s being said, but then again recognizing the author (and knowing their work) sometimes allows me to prise apart what they’re trying to get at or how the present research fits in to their other work.
Indeed, I’m still a little star-struck when I talk to people who are doing scientific research and publishing their findings in journals. I know that they are “real people,” too, but I still get a little nervous when I talk to a professional paleontologist or have a researcher comment on my review of their work. When I slip up and don’t recognize them, then things aren’t so bad, but I have to admit still feeling a bit “small” next to working scientists.