The MSU students are back in China, where they explore the culture, look for fossils, and study dinosaur eggs in the laboratory.

Selected college students from across Montana travel to the Zhejiang Province of China on a National Science Fund program from May 17 - June 19, 2012. The students will be exposed to the culture and people of China as a way of broadening their worldview. The cultural exposure is secondary, however, to the research and study of dinosaur eggs at the Zhejiang Natural History Museum. This now marks the third year for this program and the 2012 research team consists of Dr. David Varricchio, Hannah Wilson, Michael Bustamante, Ian Underwood, Paul Germano, Heather Davis, Anita Moore-Nall, Bob Rader, Danny Barta, and Christian Heck

Let's face it, if we posted every day about our research the posts would be one line - "We measured 'x' amount of eggs today". But fear not, general public, we are going to catch you up on what we have been doing for 8 hours a day in the deep dark recesses of the Zhejiang Natural History Museum!

The research room in the Zhejiang Natural History Museum where we study and measure the eggs.

The research room in the Zhejiang Natural History Museum where we study and measure the eggs.

Our research group consisting of 9 students has split into several smaller "teams" to tackle different research questions simultaneously (Teams is a bad word to use since it infers competitiveness when in fact we are all working toward the same common goal, just taking different paths along the way). So why don't we introduce the starting line-ups for these groups and let them catch you up on their progress.

C&H Inc. (Hannah Wilson and Christian Heck)

C&H Inc. working on strikes and dips. [photo by Anita Moore-Nall]

C&H Inc. working on strikes and dips. Photo by Anita Moore-Nall

- What can the crushing patterns in these eggs tell us about the taphonomic processes that affected these eggs? Using scientific interrogation methods, these crushing patterns will tell us anything we want to hear.

Team Hatching Windows (Bob Rader, Michael Bustamante, and Heather Davis)

Team Hatching Window

Team Hatching Window

- What defines a 'Hatching Window'? Team Hatching Windows hopes to "polish" these windows and build a framework for determining a hatching window within the Tiantai Eggs

Team Strider (Ian Underwood and Paul Germano)

Ian Underwood (back left) and Paul Germano (front right) of Team Strider

Ian Underwood (back left) and Paul Germano (front right) of Team Strider

- Ian and Paul have the task of refining past research on eggshell thickness and determining changes in thickness across the egg surface. How do you do that, you ask? Well, I think it's best if they explain that later.

The Lone Ranger (Danny Barta)

Danny Barta examining an eggs macrostructural characteristics

Danny Barta examining an eggs macrostructural characteristics

- Besides giving a helping hand to the other teams (Danny was on the 2010 research team), he is also examining the various ootaxa (egg types) found in the museum and forming hypotheses about evolutionary relationships among the ootaxa (This is also the subject of his Master's Thesis).

Team Anita (Anita Moore-Nall)

Anita Moore-Nall providing advice to Heather Davis

Anita Moore-Nall providing advice to Heather Davis

- Who needs a clever team name? Not Anita. Anita has been providing an ever-important need: geology expertise. That's not all though, Anita is also examining clutches of eggs and the relationship between reduction spots in the matrix to taphonomic processes.

I assume for the general public, and most other people, these two sentence summaries have left you with one thought: "Whaaaaaattt?". That's understandable, so how about each team takes their individual eggs from the collective basket and "hatches" out a more in-depth analysis? Come back tomorrow!