Today one of the students taking our Paleontological Field Methods course at NC State University went prospecting for the first time. As luck would have it, he found a new species of dinosaur… one of the nicest sites I’ve seen in the time I’ve been working the Mussentuchit. So far we’ve collected the lower jaw, parts of the backbone, and parts of the shoulder and arm just from the surface of the hill. The bones look to belong to a new species of plant-eating dinosaur. That brings the number of new dinosaurs from the Mussentuchit expeditions to four!
View of the prospecting area from the top of the hill. We walk the grey slopes in the foreground looking for fossils… and try not to fall off!
Haviv, and undergraduate at Appalachian State University, holds part of the humerus of his new dinosaur.
Its only been a few days since we set up camp in Utah and already great things are happening on this year’s expedition. We began by opening up three of the sites discovered last year, including two of our Late Cretaceous localities in the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation: Big Daddy skull site and Suicide Hill, the juvenile Eolambia. The third site we opened is actually in the famous Late Jurassic Morrison Formation. This latter site contains a juvenile sauropod skeleton discovered by an amateur family last summer.
Paul Brinkman and two students from Appalachian State University uncover the plaster cap protecting the sauropod skeleton from the winter elements.
Big Daddy is already yielding more skull material and other bones. Here Lisa, Khai, and Haviv excavate the Big Daddy site.
More skull in ground at Big Daddy.
We’re ready and running! You can follow along with this year’s Utah expedition to the Mussentuchit Badlands (July 24th- August 24th) here at Expedition Live! with real time updates, photos, and blogs, and at #UTdinodig14 or @expeditionlive. You can also participate in live Skype sessions with the crew in the Daily Planet Theater at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences beginning Tuesday August 5th.
Wondering what it takes for a dozen people to live in the desert, miles and miles from civilization for 4 weeks? Watch the NC Museum of Natural Sciences pack our field vehicles for the three day drive to Utah below.