field journal #4

i made my most interesting fossil find today in my effort to find some of the lost quarrys of francis slate.

while examining a new section of hills across the red deer river from the royal tyrrell museum (in the very area joseph tyrrell is believed to have found the first albertosaurus ever... man won't that be an exciting lost quarry to find!?!) i was coming across a fairly interesting selection of geology.

including this very promising gentle outcrop of ironstone scattered below sandstone.

now this is hardly a rule, but i like to check such slumps of tiny ironstone just in case there are micro-fossils within them. again this is not always a sure thing, and in fact its only i'd say 1/20 that actually yield results...

today must have been my 20th time! well actually 23rd, but whose keeping count (uh well other than me...).
i hit a really nice micro site!

my first find was an ornithomimid ungual. or in more common terms a toe claw!

there was an okay champsosaur vertebrae. you can tell its a champsosaur based on the hour glass looking pattern on the bottom here in the photo. champsosaurs were a reptile that was very similar to a fish eating crocodile, but was not actually a crocodile itself!
besides these first two early treasures, most of the rest of what i found was just random broken bits of bone. not everything is exciting at a micro site sadly, and about 90% of stuff on the surface such a spot tends to be badly broken up due to erosion... you have to dig into a micro fossil layer and properly soak and screen it to get most of the cool stuff intact.
still sometimes you can get lucky and find things like myledaphus teeth, turtle shell, or crocodile teeth and scutes. sadly i wasn't finding any here.
just as i was about to get bored with this site, and getting ready to move on i spotted a large shape that immediately gave me a thrill.

a intact tyrannosaurid tooth!

as these were rocks of the horseshoe canyon formation that means it almost certainly has to an albertosaurus' tooth.
its not everyday you find one of these in one piece... (though to be honest its not hard to find broken ones around here!)

well that certainly was fun. i marked down the location of the site to report back to the museum, and collected the albertosaur tooth and the ornithomimid claw samples. micro sites are always good things to be aware of as they can be quite helpful in learning about ancient environments. at the same time i didn't have time to thoroughly examine the site myself.

i had to move on if i was going to pick up the trail of francis slate...


Raptor Lewis said...

Nice find!! I have a feeling those were Cretaceous rocks because of the Albertosaur tooth...right? Good luck on the trail of Slate!!

Zach said...

...these things are just lying on the ground out there? I need to get out to Alberta again!