Thursday, August 21, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
Our last day of the field was spent back in the Hell Creek prospecting one section that we had missed over the past three weeks. Regardless of whether we found anything exciting, the mammal team (Walter, Eric and I) were happy to be back in the comfort of fossils (and a working shower). One exciting find was the ungual (or distal) phalanx of an Ornithomimid dinosaur. This type of dinosaur probably looked a lot like an ostrich and was either herbivorous or omnivorous. The front limbs of this animal were long and slender yielding powerful claws like the one that we found.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
We knew we were in trouble on the very first day in the Park because we didn't find a single bone scrap. The area was blanketed with petrified wood fossils, usually a bad omen for fossil seekers because you tend not to find both types in the same area. Also, the area was much more vegetated compared to the dry and arid environments of the southern, Hell Creek-badlands in Marmarth.
Near the end of the second day in the National Park, our spirits were low and we were desperate for anything. At least the breathtaking sights offered some sort of consolation.
It was also VERY exciting when Walter caught this Rat snake...
and I found an enormous Elk antler.
Our spirits wavered further when we returned to camp to see that we had visitors. A herd of bison infiltrated our camp ground mid-rutting season. It took us 30 minutes to wait for the pack to move on.
Though, big and hulky, these animals were incredible up-close.
After the bison excitement died down, we returned to the field and went the whole day w/out avail. Much needed rain, but no fossils.
We called it quits during the middle of the fourth day and set off to Marmarth early to help finish up jackets and prospect the remaining bits of public land of North Dakota. Our spirits recovered after purchasing some local memorabelia and a relaxing night in the closest town (pop. 47).
Sunday, July 20, 2008
After spending the day painfully picking through sand and organic shale packed full with coal, we finally found a mammal jaw fragment. Well, Walter found one on the surface of the hill after we had sifted and dug through dirt all day. As you can see in this picture, Ariel and I had a thick coating of grime before the day was done.
Tomorrow part of the group will depart north to camp in the Roosevelt State Park while looking for Paleocene mammal fossils. We will be roughing it completely sans electricity and other luxuries (shower, stove, running water, blogging etc). That said, I won’t be writing again until our return on Friday! Wish us luck!