News and stories from our outreach events as well as journal entries from Katie's fieldwork seasons.

Follow the #E2HD Twitter handle for more updates on Evolutionary and Ecological Approaches to Health and Development, Northwestern's Biological Anthropology research group. 


Updates - Field Week 6

My first field assistant has arrived so data collection is continuing to go smoothly. I saw my first fer-de-lance in the field but was luckily able to collect the fecal samples falling around it without any incident.

Day of the Dead is fairly quiet in Palenque, but there are some exhibits and altars up near city hall. There are also flowers everywhere and plenty of traffic in the cemetery.


Updates - Field Week 5

Data collection continues to go well for the most part. I've had some difficulty getting samples from extra groups inside the park. A lot of sitting and waiting on my part and not enough sample dropping from the monkeys. I did scale a very large, unexcavated Mayan ruin yesterday in pursuit of an outside group. I still didn't end up with any samples (due to the ruin), but it was amazing how high and steep the structure was. I'm glad I work with groups in the flatter areas of the park.

An infant was born in one of the groups, which is a fun change. They have so little hair when they're born that they look pink-ish, and it's amazing how big their hands are. The most important thing for them is to be able to hold on to their mom though, so it makes sense.

So far I have seen only one snake here in the past month and a half, and it was not the venemous type. These fruits, however, are quite dangerous. They are large, hard, and fall from very high trees. They scare me more than any snake, but luckily, I have never been close to one falling.


I also found this frog yesterday. I don't see many frogs (although I'm sure there are plenty around) so I thought it was worth a picture. It's not the most brilliantly colored amphibian in the rainforest, but it was pretty large (baseball-sized).



Updates - Field Weeks 2-4

Collection is continuing well, and the rain has slowed down significantly. Apparently, there are more tropical storms headed this way so the break in the rain may be temporary, but I'm enjoying the lack of flooding and muddy water coming out the faucet.

A few days ago I saw my first deer in the forest thanks to a field assistant helping out on another project. The monkeys have been visiting areas of their territory which I've never seen before. It's nice to have a better idea of the border areas of the territory, but I also end up in places like the one pictured below.


After enjoying a day and a half of rest, I'm back to the field tomorrow. It's very tiring to be on my feet for 10 hours a day, but the truth is, because I have so little time to do anything else, the days pass pretty quickly. I can't believe it's been a month already.



Updates - Field Week 1

Tropical storms are passing through the area so it floods in the area every night. It's very impressive how quickly the water rises and falls. Luckily, most of the rain falls at night and not when I'm in the field.

I brushed up against this caterpillar. It was not a pleasant experience. I do think it's beautiful though.



I got my first round of fecal samples yesterday, which was great. Today the monkeys slept a lot so the day was more relaxed. On the way back to my cabana from the forest, the collective van I hopped into was playing peppy, stereotypical Mexican music. There were three people squeezed in the front, one with a blue bandana tied around his neck. The man sitting next to me in the back had a giant basket of gum and candy and cigarettes for sale. The driver had looped a rosary around the rear-view mirror. In the middle of the windshield there was a small rubber chicken, a Jesus medallion, and an orange pine tree air freshener all attached with suction cups. A Virgin of Guadalupe sticker was up in the righthand corner of the windshield as well. All of this reminded me that I am in Mexico, and it put me in a good mood.