Paleontologists Gabe Santos and Andy Farke stand for a portrait next to a Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton at the Raymond Alf Museum of Paleontology on the campus of the The Webb Schools in Claremont, CA.

Gabriel Santos & Andrew Farke

The Paleontologists

Gabriel Santos and Andrew Farke are a rare species: They’re paleontologists working on a U.S. high school campus. “We’ve got some horse teeth, got turtle, some camel canines, feet, teeth,” says Gabriel as he points to various objects in the museum basement. The Raymond M. Alf Museum is a circular building near the southern edge of The Webb Schools grounds, a boarding school that offers its students the unique chance of finding, collecting, cleaning and studying fossils in collaboration with experts like Gabriel and Andrew. Their goal isn’t to turn all the students into paleontologists, but rather, to educate people on what it is to be a scientist, what the process of science research is, and how to get the scientific information. “The analogy that I often use is that it’s sort of like a Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry (out of the Harry Potter series), except with a fossil museum,” says Andrew. The museum dates to 1936, when Raymond Alf, a teacher, took an interest in paleontology as a hobby and went on a trip to the Mojave Desert with a student. After they found a 15 million-year-old peccary skull, Alf began taking Webb students on fossil collecting trips whenever he could. The students still find fossils all the time, says Gabriel, and visitors come from throughout Southern California to view the museum’s highly-regarded collection.