It’s All Downhill From Here (literally)

Expedition Live! crew at the end of week 2.  Crew includes four undergraduates in our summer Field Course at NCSU the staff from the PGL at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and NC State University, and volunteers.
Expedition Live! crew at the end of week 2. Crew includes four undergraduates in our summer Field Course at NCSU the staff from the PGL at the NC Museum of Natural Sciences and NC State University, and volunteers.

A sad day in the field this morning as our Field Methods course came to an end and our four undergraduates hopped a flight back to North Carolina.  We’ve had an awesome crew these past two weeks and have made some great progress on our four dinosaur sites.

More and more bone is turning up at the Blue Bird Quarry (BBQ), formerly known as the sauropod site.  Paul Brinkman and his team have been jacketing any and all bones that can be isolated from the main block.  That block contains somewhere around 8 articulated sauropod vertebrae which we will try to pull in one extra large jacket.  Today, I’ve been engineering a strategy to get that block (which should weight in at around 800 lbs) into the back of the truck… so far the plan involves a ramp imbedded with pipe as rollers, a bunch of cables, and a portable winch… stay tuned to see if we pull this off!

Big Daddy continues to yield more probable skull.  We opened the site with a couple of days of picking, shoveling, and jackhammering, and now Lisa Herzog is leading the mapping and collection of Big Daddy bones.  We led the students through their first jacket pull, a relatively minor effort moving about a 150 lb jacket a mile back to camp, down into a valley, up a steep hillside, over a sandstone cliff.

Big Daddy keeps getting bigger...
Big Daddy keeps getting bigger…
Sunlight fades as we finish jacketing a Big Daddy bone for transport.
Sunlight fades as we finish jacketing a Big Daddy bone for transport.
Rain sweeps in as we ready a Big Daddy skull bone for the haul!
Rain sweeps in as we ready a Big Daddy skull bone for the haul!

Suicide Hill contains the bones of a juvenile duckbill.  The site is nice and flat, so not a lot of overburden to remove, which is nice… but many of the bones are imbedded in the top of a 6 inch sandstone block.  We’ve been using the rock saw to cut those out and haul them back to camp.  One of these jackets is going to be a real beastie to haul back to camp!

The students hone their quarrying skills at Suicide Hill
The students hone their quarrying skills at Suicide Hill

As for me, I’ve spent two quiet days deep in concentration collecting the surface exposed bones from Fortunate Son (our new plant-eating dinosaur site).  The bones are quite jumbled together and need to be carefully separated.  Because this site has the potential to yield a holotype specimen, it’s been slow and meticulous work.  The view is incredible and I’ve been enjoying the work and the serenity of the landscape.

View from Fotrunate Son
View from Fotrunate Son
Newly discovered bones eroding out of the hillside include a rib and a centrum
Newly discovered bones eroding out of the hillside include a rib and a centrum

 

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