Saturday, July 26, 2008

Photographic recap of the past week themed: Lotsa stuff but no fossils..

We began the week in Theodore Roosevelt State Park optimistic for fossil turtles, reptiles, and mammals. Only one other paper had been published explaining where these types of Paleocene fossils (65-55 million years old) found within the park. We didn't have access to this paper, so we relied on park ranger word of mouth and set out on what seemed a wild-goose fossil chase. I am standing in front of the colorful but vertical buttes that we scaled during our four day stint in the Paleocene.

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).

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