Careers in science: ichnology

The ichnologist is trying to edit ten years worth of blog posts into some sort of readable manuscript.

It is harder work than he expected. “Gosh, I used to be a jerk,” he thinks. “Why didn’t I realize that then? And why did anyone read my blog?” he wonders.

Then he finds a ten-year old blog post in which he wrote about a trip to the United States during which he realized what a jerk he was.

The ichnologist is sitting on the sofa joking with his teenaged daughter. He reserved a table at a restaurant for the two of them and the person on the phone had trouble with his name, and finally used his first name instead and when they went to the restaurant there it was, his first name on a little sign on the table. Now the ichnologist and his daughter are trying to find the perfect name to use when reserving tables.

A name that is funny, but possible enough so that the people at the restaurant would still use it.

The ichnologist suggests Eierklammer, which is possible – Klammer is a name, after all.

Dr. Eierklammer, says his daughter and they laugh.

At a cabin in the mountains, the ichnologist’s wife screams in the middle of the night and wakes everyone up.


She hears mice. But no one else does, because her screaming stopped the mice in their tracks.

Mice, mice on the roof. Ceiling. Whatever. Coming out a mouse hole under her bed. Mice in the luggage.

The ichnologist is hard of hearing, he never hears mice. But then, later, reading on her bed one afternoon, he hears them, thundering across the ceiling.

He wonders are they mice or rats? Or some other, medium-sized forest fauna?

The horses are nowhere to be seen, he thinks, crossing the field to the cabin late one night in the pitch dark, coming back from somewhere.

Then he hears it – something thundering his way in the darkness.

What is it, many tiny things? A bunch of medium-sized things? One or two big things?

There in the dark, he knows the answer: Yes.