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Conversations with a Scientist

I love sharing. Knowledge is not a gift to be guarded in one's heart, kept for selfish cause. Rather, knowledge should be shared for all to discover, benefit from, and cherish.

~ Ashby Gale ~


Birthplace: Savannah, GA

Hometown: Asheville, NC

What first made you interested in fossils?

Like any child, I had a fascination with dinosaurs. I probably read the little purple-spined book on dinosaurs more than any other child at our public library. I remember times when that book was checked out so I had to take home another book, but they were never as good as that book on dinosaurs!

Did you always want to be a paleontologist?

Yes! But there was a moment on the playground in elementary school where a classmate told me that paleontologists only make money if they find new dinosaurs. I let that discourage me from following my dreams for 15 years. Aside from fossils, I take great pride in being an environmental scientist and general naturalist. I love plants, birds, wildlife, geology - anything in the natural world.

What's your favorite memory from working in the field?

There was this one time on a kayak trip that the heavens opened up. Fortunately, it wasn't a dangerous lightning storm, just a summer shower. We hunkered down underneath makeshift shelters of our kayaks until the storm rolled over, and proceeded to have one of the best trips to date! That client found a flawless 2" tooth after that storm passed!

What are your other hobbies?

Can I give more than one?! I love photography, playing my saxophone, cooking and baking, woodworking, wilderness survival skills, writing (both scientific and creative), art of all forms, and you may even find me on the swing dance floor.

What's your favorite fossil?

Oh wow, yes I get this a lot. I can never pick just one! Among my top favorites are: a spectacled bear molar, juvenile mammoth molar, saber fragment from a saber-tooth cat, and a 4.78" Megalodon tooth, seen in the logo.

What goes on behind the scenes when you're not leading tours?

If I'm not in the field with a client, I'm out in the field by myself! Being in a business where you rely on the environment is challenging, so I'm always scouting out new locations for tours. This leg work helps to make the most rewarding trip possible for future clients.

What is your most valuable asset on tours you lead?

My eyes. Not a tour goes by without someone saying, "How did you SEE that?!" When you live, eat, sleep, and dream fossils, your eyes are trained to detect so many obscure details that the average person may miss. Therefore, I always help to train tour participants to see what I see. 

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