When most of us imagine scientists, we picture white lab coats, sparkling work benches, and tidy, controlled experiments. We do not tend to imagine accidentally exchanging saliva with dead animals or gluing oneself to a large carnivore.
But such is the nature of field work, a romantic-sounding activity that, in reality, is a bit like strapping a bunch of live grenades to rabid dogs and setting them loose in a city. I was a science grad student in a previous life, and the worst thing that ever happened to me was getting lost in the woods and having to hitchhike down a Puerto Rican mountainside in the rain with a bunch of soon-to-be-slaughtered chickens on the back of some nice old gentleman’s truck.
Others have seen the far side of hell. Beginning late last week, scientists came out of the woodwork to share their #fieldworkfail stories — proving once and for all that these are some of the weirdest, toughest, most harebrained crazies you’ll ever meet. God bless ‘em.
Accidentally glued myself to a crocodile while attaching a radio transmitter. #fieldworkfail
That sinking feeling when you realise you have inadvertently exchanged saliva with a dead jackal #fieldworkfail
Spilled dirty ethanol & clove oil down front of wetsuit. Had 2 pretend I wasn’t getting chemical burns while talking to crew #fieldworkfail
Lick tiny object to discern if fossil/rock. Fossil. Sticks to tongue. Coughing fit from dust. Sharp inhale. Swallow fossil. #fieldworkfail
Caught in thunderstorm, ditched metal auger to be safe. When I got back remembered I was wearing GPS backpack with 3m aerial. #fieldworkfail
Accidentally pee on a Jaguar´s marked tree. Get chased by the jaguar for 3 weeks, might sound exciting, actually quite scary #fieldworkfails
Once I got very excited to find some bones in a trench, thinking it may have been a midden, then the KFC wrapper emerged. #fieldworkfails
Caught fuelline in outboard prop, spent hours drifting, cleaning carb and dodging angry hippos, 02:00 and dark #fieldworkfail
Discovering secret granola stash in field station = ! Realizing later ‘flax seeds’ actually weevils = #fieldworkfail.
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