The Laws of Fieldwork

A group of us came up with these 'laws' a few years back after spending several seasons in the field at Petrified Forest National Park. They are a work in progress, but hopefully you will find them enjoyable and applicable.

Compiled by Sterling Nesbitt, Randy Irmis, Michelle Stocker, and Bill Parker

1. If you can’t find your tools, look under your butt.

2. What is said in the field stays in the field (unless you are out with the same people).

3. Always make it look like an accident.

4. If grass can grow on it, you can go on it (i.e. it is safe to climb up or down on).

5. No one really ever falls or slips, they are either doing pushups or looking closely at rocks or fossils.

6. Last one up at night must be the first one up in the morning.

7. If something catches your eye, you must examine it.

8. To work in the Chinle, you must love the Chinle (or else it will drive you crazy).

9. No matter how far from civilization you think you have hiked, you will always find some discarded bottle or can.

10. If you are not finding any bones, you can always eat a granola bar.

11. You always find the best stuff at the end of the last day of the season.

12. There is no “line” in the field*.

*Unfortunately this one was actually broken in 2005 by a student intern and much to our dismay.


  1. One we've found to be persistently true here in Oregon is "There's always more uphill than downhill." I don't know that our topography is all that unusual, and I suspect it holds in Arizona as well.

  2. The tool you need is always under the rest of the equipment in the truck

  3. I was just today at lunch disagreeing with Rule 2. What happens in the field should serve at least as A. Funny or embarrassing stories or B. Lessons to live by. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the fieldwork.

    Also, I found an exception to the grass can grow on it/go on it axiom in the Triassic of the Texas panhandle a few weeks ago. It resulted in me inspecting the ground while sliding along on my butt down a hill.

  4. a zoologist who frequents the field, I shall incorporate that 'push-ups' rule into my own repetoire... ;)

  5. In rule 12, what do you mean by "line"?

  6. Mike,
    "crossing the line" means going a bit to far with your behavior.

  7. Love your Laws of Fieldwork. Thanks for the chuckle!


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS