15.1.09

the traumador quarry... (origins part 3)

so it turns out that my being discovered as an egg was part of a nearly 100 year long saga...

i still have a lot of questions, but at least i know a few of the facts...

here's the short version of the saga (if you want the longer version click the link).

a very mysterious fossil hunter named francis slate operating during the great canadian dinosaur rush SEEMS to have found the site both me and my mother were found at (i say seems as this mr. slate isn't in any proper history book). than in the 1940's my mom was officially found, but my egg (and those of my long dead brothers and sisters) remained in the ground undiscovered. it wasn't until 2003 that my eventual discoverer craig returned to the site and stumbled across my nest...

of all things i've wanted to know about myself, is where did i come from?... of course the saying "where did i come from" has a lot of meanings... but today at the top of my list was the simplest meaning. what was the place i came from?

after many years of wondering, today i no longer have too!

not only did i make it to where i came from, but i was being guided through it by the one and only darren tanke! the guru expert on the history of fossil collecting in alberta.

this morning we ventured to just outside the town of huxley, alberta. the spot was on a isolated ranch like any other in the praries. only this one was bordered with the natural walls of the badlands at one end.

after getting out of the car, darren casually asked me what i notice immediately about the area of remote badlands around us...


looking around what did i notice... not much. just a stretch of badlands very similar to those around drumheller or dinosaur park. i could have been anywhere along the red deer river...

that was till after a minute or two. i realized there was something funny about the top of the outcrop. i guess funny isn't the right word (especially when i figured out exactly what it is). it was a very pronounced and distinct layer. i'd never seen one like it before.

after another minute of thought i realized what i was looking at. i was face to face with the only record of what happened to my kind 65 million years ago. it was THE KT boundary! the layer found throughout the world that marked the end of cretaceous period, and with it the doom of the dinosaurs. (like i said not such a funny layer in the end!).

i have an intense fear of this moment of time. even if it was 65 million years ago. asteroids always fall on me in my worst nightmares. yet looking at it here in the rock it was deceivingly calm and mellow. one could almost believe it wasn't the marker of one of the most disastrous moments in the earth's history, the way it just sat there doing nothing. yet recorded in that layer is an insane amount of destruction (global forest fires, molten rock rain, massive tidal waves... you know the end of the world type stuff).

i shared my findings with darren, who was quite impressed. "good eye," he complimented me. darren than asked me pointedly"but is that all you noticed?"

"yeah," i truthfully told him, a little embarrassed. i thought i'd done really well, but apparently not.

darren pointed to a spot just in front of us. "right there," darren instructed me as he handed me a picture. "what do you notice about it compared to this photo."

it was the photo darren had shown me yesterday, of that unknown explorer francis slate digging at the site i'd be found at years later.

what about it? i thought. this photo was marked on the back as being taken in 1914. that was ages ago (95 years if you spend the time to do the math i realized). a lot has changed since then...

hasn't it? i reasked myself as my tiny brain caught onto what darren was leading me towards...


i was standing RIGHT where the photographer had been standing! right there in front of me was the VERY spot francis slate had reported finding "saurian eggs of unknown nature".

that was amazing!

i turned to darren all excited and started to ask a million questions... mostly about how did he find this site, and how could a photo almost a hundred years old still be a clue.

after a few minutes calming me down, darren answered my many questions.

for the last 10 or so years darren has taken it upon himself to find all the various dig sites in alberta, those that are a century old or older all the way up to the present so that a solid record can be preserved for the science of palaeontology for centuries to come... (details on darren's techniques and findings are coming NEXT post so stay tuned). using clues like this photograph darren is able to find even the most obscure of quarrys.

of course darren is only just one man. he can't possible hunt all the badlands of alberta alone, so he recruits people to help him out in searching for these "lost quarrys" (as they are now lost to us in the present). after all more eyes are better than two... wait is that how that saying goes?

he told me the story of one particular helper, who took an interest in the field notes of francis slate, and managed to track down this site we stood at.

that person was of course (soon after the events in this flashback to become) my legal guardian craig.

5 years ago...

francis slate had been getting the better of craig for the whole summer of 2003. not that he was wholeheartedly looking at first. normal lost quarrys can be searched for as a side project during normal field work. not with this slate guy.
_
darren had only managed to ever track down one of slate's sites back in 2000 (and he spent that whole summer looking!). that was because it was in an easy place. right outside the atlas coal mine's visitor centre, the atlas being a major tourist attraction in the drumheller region. with this difficulty in mind darren urged craig to drop it, and try looking for "normal" lost quarrys.
_
yet craig grew infuriated (darren didn't know why, but it seemed craig took it personally). he dropped all his other commitments at the museum in august, and went out with the sole purpose of finding some of francis slate's dig sites. this wasn't just a day job, it became craig's life for that period. by day he'd wander and drive around the badlands, and come back at night to read and research till he HAD to sleep.
_
despite this craig came back empty handed for two weeks in a row. than on august. 14 a lucky break. while reading through charlie sternberg's notes for any reference to slate, craig stumbled on sternberg mentioning a visit he made in 1946 to a site slate had spoken to him about in 1914.

which if course was the spot that i now stood in here in the year 2009.

craig's site check for lost quarry clues ended very quick when he found fossils on the surface. a type he'd never seen in the field before... eggshell!

as he poked around (being careful not to remove anything from the rock, as that could damage delicate fossils) he was surprised to find the eroded out remains of several eggs... a nest he concluded!

if he was surprised at that, he was amazed (and darren tells me a bit freaked) when one of the eggs popped out of the mound as he probed around it. craig grabbed it as it nearly rolled down to possible destruction... he was astounded at how intacted a egg it was. it was perfect in every way. no cracks, no damage, not even the slightest clue of fossilization even. it was even light weight and still proper egg shell coloured.

just as he was about to try and set it down carefully on the ground it suddenly started to shack and crack itself open...

this is about where i can jump in and add my point of view...

this is about how i remember this happening. which is pretty easy for me to remember. not only is it my first memory, but as we tyrannosaurs are closely related to birds we imprint on the first thing we see just like them. so the image of craig's very surprised face is rather hardly ingrained in my mind (as small as it is).

not much of a view of my birthplace at the time though, mind you. just some nice sky and a big human...


that's how it all began... well for me anyway. here in this place 5 years ago...


as i looked upon it, half imagining what happened and half remembering it, all kinds of deep huge emotion swelled up inside me. i caught myself trying to cry. which was silly.

not because darren was there (he told me afterwards it was touching, and one of the most significant moments he's had showing some lost quarrys... though i was outdone by the daughter of one of levi sternberg's fieldcrew members when he showed her some pictures of her father she'd never seen).

silly because we tyrannosaurs can't cry properly! another one of those human behaviours i've picked up from hanging out with them so much. (and imprinting on one as we've just seen). i wished i could cry at that moment thouhh. this was a rare instance i'd be crying due to happiness!

its funny. i didn't have much more information on how i was found due to this field tri[, but now that i'd been to THE place i felt more connected to my origin. isn't it always funny how you can imagine or see pictures of something, it just isn't anywhere near as cool as seeing the real thing, is it?!?

now that he'd done a huge favour for me, it was time i did something for darren back. more to the point something that could help us both out. i was going to pick up where craig and he had left off, and find out more about this francis slate!

there was only one thing. i didn't know how to find lost quarrys... good thing i was with the guy who invented how to look for them!

next: how to find a lost quarry!

3 comments:

Raptor Lewis said...

WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I feel like crying too. That swells my emotions a lot. Traumador, I am Shocked and Happy and...full of mixed emotions. I don't know what to say other than Congrats, my friend.

BTW, the reason humans cry is because we have tear ducts.

Raptor Lewis said...

Cool New Posts at PaleoQuest!! This includes the Seventh Fact!!

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

you may not cry properly but you don't need that for making us notice your emotions