It’s week 5 of our summer expedition and the crew is pretty worn down. We are down to the last holdovers: two NCSU graduate students, a single NCSU undergraduate, and Asst. Director, Paul Brinkman at the helm.
Despite the wear, there is something uplifting about digging at the Crystal Geyser Quarry. Here ones tireless work is constantly rewarded, with new surprises lurking under every chunk of rock removed. We’ve been finding great bone here, some of the best I have seen at the site in a decade. Our first complete fibula (lower leg bone), plenty of new femora (upper leg bones) for our study on Falcarius growth and other treats, such as claws and teeth.
I am also fairly certain I uncovered several bits of skull that were previously unknown for this animal, which is terribly exciting although, with much of it encased in a nodule, confirmation of my field ID awaits preparation back in the lab.
More of our new sauropod has turned up and we are excited to be able to show off these bones being prepared at the museum. There is something awe-inspiring about sauropod bones that isn’t hard to understand. The sheer size of each individual bone is breathtaking.
Learning to excavate fossilized bones when they are preserved in a jumbled mass is one of the paleontologists great field skills, and one of the things the students have come to learn. This photo gives you an idea of how tricky it can be to think out a step by step plan to removing bones like Pick Up Stixs from the quarry face.