23.7.09

cracking the case wide open!

i had them... i was about to uncover what the pack of the primordial feather was poaching from the badlands.

i'd managed to sneak into the tyrrell museum's collections, right under the noses of the crimson talons i might add! (i sound like i'm boasting, but it actually worries me just how easy it was to get by them!). now i could retrace the break-in that happened in here a little while ago.

i was certain the poachers had used the rock samples in the horseshoe canyon drawer to figure out where to dig up their targets. if i could decipher what the clue was they had been looking for, hopefully i could figure out what kind of fossil they were stealing!


my only problem was the horseshoe canyon geology cabinet itself. it had so MANY samples for me to go through...

the number wasn't surprising really. all you had to do to collect more for this specific section of collections was walk out of the museum and up to ANY of the hills around it and grab some rock (minus the very top ice age layer ontop of the valley walls).
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still this wasn't good. as i was supposed to be finding what the pack was after...
with several hundred layer and formation samples to go through, i was really hoping whatever they were looking for was obvious!

my geology know how was intermediate at best (i'm more of a fossil guy really). considering how fast the break-in had seemed to be (it happened while collection's staff were nearby!) i was thinking it must have been something easy to spot in a hurry... hopefully i would know it when it when i saw it...
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the good news was it was just the rock samples... had the poachers also hit the horseshoe canyon formation fossil drawers i would have been looking through collections for at least a week! there are a lot more horseshoe fossils kept here then rocks!
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for the first several drawers nothing caught my eye... i grew more worried with every other vile and box i looked in, as none of the samples seemed noteworthy to me...

then i hit something. in the back corner of the fifth drawer, was a fine mudstone sample full of snails and clams...

this wasn't the first time i'd seen this. when i went back to the poached sites, the majority of the poachings at the 1st site and all of them at the 2nd site had been from mudstone layers laced with snails and clams...

i pulled the sample aside.

even as i did so, i thought there was a chance i was reading to much into this shell criteria.
both snails and clams are common in two other formations in the valley, afterall. the layer lining the top of the valley from the 15 000 year old glacial lake only had fossils of freshwater snails, nothing else. further down the valley in the oceanic rocks laid down before the horseshoe canyon formation, the most common fossils are clams.
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there was a chance this sample was either run off contamination from one or both of these layers into a horseshoe canyon level. or it was just a filing mistake, and this specific sample was simply mislabelled or misplaced from another formations cabinets (which does happen).

i carried on looking. stress and anxiety started to eat away at me as the single clam/snail sample become an ever increasing singular oddity. i wasn't finding anymore like it...

as i came to the last drawer of the whole horseshoe canyon formation collection i panicked... clearly i had imagined the whole snail/clam connection... there must have been something else in these drawers... something i hadn't noticed at all!!!

my panic nearly caused me to skip the last drawer and start all over... fortunately my small brain doesn't cope with changing outer world tasks well while it is in deep thought. i just plowed into the last drawer while dreading having to start over...

i'm glad i didn't start all over!
in the last drawer i found almost nothing BUT clam and snail samples!!!

which was weird. the specimens had all been collected independently and over many years. in fact in the notes that accompanied each of them, no one had even remotely connected any of the samples with each other. that alone gathered and organized them into the same drawer...
no! someone had pulled them all out of their various correct spots and drawers and rearranged them together into this one on purpose!

it made sense. this last drawer was a perfect hiding spot, as i'd just demonstrated. it was right at the ground, so you had to bend over to look in it (this is one of those rare good times i'm SO short!). not the usual place someone would start looking randomly. more to the point, if you didn't know to look for them, you could very easily happily search the other 40 drawers of the horseshoe canyon, and never know you missed this cache of weird samples in the last drawer...

i at first thought the poachers had stashed them all here out of sight and out of mind. however, it occurred to me they hadn't had had time to sort anything. the cabinet had been left a total ransacked mess when i found it after the break-in. the poachers had probably had to leave these shell samples scattered amongst the rest of the horseshoe collection.

so who had reorganized these snail/shell samples together and hide them... there was one person i knew who had a big interest in the poaching case, and more to the point had been in the collections moments after me... professor paradigm!
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the question was why had he hidden these all?... i couldn't help but feel it was a tactic to try and keep anyone else (like say me) from stumbling onto the same trail as the poachers...
okay so now i had a reoccurring oddity sample type. in addition to them all have lots of shells , i had evidence they were "hot" items. they were the only rock samples that had been re-sorted and removed from their proper catalogue order in the clean up from the break-in! the question now was why were they so important?

i could now safely eliminate both the extralayer contamination and/or in the wrong drawer theories. there were 20 snail/clam samples, and 12 of them had thorough field notes to prove exactly where they had came from. all were horseshoe canyon formation, and all were from the red deer river valley!

in fact it was these accurately collected field notes that confirmed they were connected to the poachings! the third sample had been collected from one of the poaching sites i'd "found"! rifling through the rest of the field notes i quickly found the other poached site i knew of. there was no doubt now... the poachers had being using the samples to find sites!!!

i stepped back to calm down from this excitement... okay traumador, i thought to myself, you did good. we found the bad guys "treasure map", but we still don't know what the treasure is...

somewhere in the back of my brain a voice was screaming about the snails and the clams... they were the key. the worst part was i knew why, i just couldn't remember why...

i flipped through the remaining ten sites, and found nothing to help jog my memory. in desperation i went to the eight iffy documented samples. they had information, but not very precise. they all seemed to be from older collecting, back from when the museum was being set up in the 1980's, and were initial exploration with the possible intent of further exploration later on, but nothing thorough at the time. clearly no one had followed this up (which happens in science. there is so much to learn you can expect it to all happen within your lifetime!)
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as of such these eight wouldn't have been much use to the poachers. the vague geographic details given were not exact useful for surgical hit and dig runs like the fossil thieves had been using. if someone had wanted to track down these layers it take you a couple days of looking with this info. you certainly would have found them, but not quickly.
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i thought these eight vague samples weren't going to help me either... till i caught a reference on the last one. "sample of surrounding sedimentary matrix from TMP 85. 14. 1"... that was weird. all 19 other samples were collected from the field as just rocks. this appeared to be some saved rock from a prepped fossil...
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TMP 85. 14. 1 was a tyrrell museum catalogue number, but it could have been any of the 150 000 fossils stored here!... yet this particular number rang a bell in my head... okay not really, as i don't have a bell, nor have i ever heard a bell unless one were present... let's just say it seemed like a very familiar number.
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oh course! how could i ever forget it?!? that was lillian, the girl of my dreams', catalogue number!!! i zoned out for a second missing and thinking of her, and drooling over the saurian goddess' hotness...
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wait a second... reality set back in... lillian's dig site had never been confirmed. which irritated darren tanke to no end! she was one of the few modern lost quarrys (in fact all the other modern missing dig sites from alberta were "oddly" vivus dinosaurs)... this made no sense. why was there suddenly a lost record of her discovery here in a geology drawer?
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till i noticed the report author's signature... i should have guessed... professor paradigm!
he was the world expert on vivus dinosaurs, so it made sense that he was finding many of them. based on how hush hush he seemed to keep most things, hiding the locations of vivus fossil sites fit his profile. i just never would have expected him to hatch a scheme to hide scientific data from the scientific community. i almost wanted to report him... when the true significance of this hit me...
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hatch a scheme... traumador you pea brained idiot, i cursed myself. that's just it! literally hatching... you can't get a vivus dinosaur without a vivus egg!!!

the snail and clam shells, they were a key ingredient to preserving fossil eggs!!!
how could i not have seen this before...
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it all made sense now!
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everyone i'd been talking to had suspected that poachers going to this much trouble in alberta must have been digging up something new and never before seen around here.
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sure dinosaur eggs were known from alberta, but they were from farther south in the province in devil's coulee (in fact as that area was close in geologic age to the horseshoe, everyone had just assumed lillian had been found down there).
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no eggs had ever been found around drumheller before...
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at least on the formal record. it seemed paradigm had found a series of layers through out the horseshoe formation that did indeed preserve eggs, but kept it a secret. that is till now. as the poachers had learned his secret.
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the fact they were eggs, and that these had produced vivus-dinosaurs (lillian for example), now completely explained why the pack was involved. how else could you get more pack members if they all went extinct?... you dig them up for course!!!
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this was huge... i'd "cracked" the case, and hopefully before it could be hatched by the pack.
i grabbed the top sample's field report and rushed out of the museum to see if i was too late...

it took me to a nice little stretch of badlands about a 10 minute drive west of the museum.


i rushed quickly (but carefully... i still remember my close accident in the badlands) towards the layers location. reaching the hill marked in the report, i let out a sigh of relief. there was no signs of any digging.


yet examining all the mudstone layers in the hill, i found in the fourth one from the bottom the signs i was looking for. a fine grain mudstone full of snail and clam shells.

slightly down the hill i found a nice spot where the layer had slumped and exposed some micro-fossils. though they were neat and dandy, i was looking for just one thing.
my heart nearly skipped a beat when i spotted it.

this is the sample i brought back to the museum. a piece of dinosaur eggshell...

i'd just found something that had never been found around drumheller before (officially anyway)!

the scary part was the pack had too, and at at least two sites. there was no telling if they'd already hit any or all of the other nine other known layer locations...

there was only one thing for me to do.

find out!

to be continued with the true nature of the poachers...

3 comments:

Albertonykus said...

Eggs! I was right!

Now, on with the case...

Raptor Lewis said...

As more questions get answered, more questions are raised...

1. How are eggs THAT well-preserved! Surely, there must be a process we don't know about. (like if you de-minieralized a Tyrannosaur bone, you could find that it starts to stretch and act like modern bone.)

2. Could this solve the mysteries of how YOU and other "Vivus-Dinosaurs" survived?

Be careful Traum! If the Pack finds out what you've been up to and what you found.....you get the idea. I think you've given them another reason to put you on the top of their hit list.

Sean Craven said...

Atta boy! Work that tiny brain!