12.7.09

palaeontologist to the left of me, palaeontologist to the right of me, sorted and identified...

i had a problem. well more to the point the palaeontologic community of drumheller had a problem. the pack of the primordial feather was poaching fossils, and so far no one was putting a stop to it! that is till now...

i was going to figure out what the pack was up to. to do so i needed to identify what kind of fossils they were stealing.
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to help me do this, i'd JUST collected a bunch of sample microfossils from around the various poaching sites. i had now brought them back to the royal tyrrell museum, where i hoped one of the museum's curators could help me figure out something vital to solving the poaching mystery.

i ended up super lucky! there was a good chance i was about to save the day.

not only did i managed to get an audience with an expert willing to help me out... i got TWO! both were very keen to see if they could help with the poaching case, which hadn't been officially announced around the museum, but rumours of it had starting making the rounds. if there's one thing that scares palaeontologists its people stealing fossils before they can be studied!

on my left was dr. donald brinkman, director of preservation & research here at the museum. what his job title means is that he is THE head scientist at the museum, and he has to make all the tough calls when it comes to research and studies here at the museum.

dr. brinkman specializes in fossil turtles and, of more importantly to me today, microfossils. with both dr. brinkman attempts to find out why and how the environments during the late cretaceous were changing to help us understand climate change today.

you may remember dr. brinkman from when i still worked at the tyrrell. i went on a dig with with him and tony to collect microfossils. he also appears in my movie on microfossils (which i recommend watching, that way you'll totally understand what we were looking for here today).

on my right was dr. françois therrien, curator of dinosaur palaeoecology of the tyrrell. palaeoecology is the study of ancient environments, and dr. therrien uses every clue available to him to try and not only reconstruct the world of us dinosaurs, but us dinos as well.

to do this he studies everything from macro fossils, to micro fossils, and even (his main speciality) prehistoric dirt which we call paleosols.

between these two great experts on reconstructing prehistoric environments, i was sure to find out everything there was to know about the layers the pack had been poaching.

within moments of looking at the fossils i'd collected, there was a lot of promise in them.
many of my specimens not only recorded animals that lived in this environment, but also some of the interactions these creatures had with each other.
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this small bit of hadrosaur tendon for example, told us not only was there duckbills in the poached era (not doubt edmontosaurus) but those marks you see all over it were left by a raptor's teeth! a dromaeosaur had eaten my duckbill (most likely after it was dead... based on what i'd seen it was hard for raptors to take down a living duckbill!)
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both palaeontologists were engrossed with my specimens for a good couple of hours.

though they were nice enough to take quick breaks and tell me what i'd found, and what they were thinking about the specimens.

the funniest of these asides had to be when dr. therrien found a tyrannosaurid tooth (most likely an albertosaur) in the mix. he picked it up and held up close to my mouth. "you aren't missing a one of these are you?" he joked. "because it'd be pretty easy for us to replace it."

we both laughed, and i tried to follow up his joke with my own. "fossil bling! instead of gold, i could have a permineralized tooth!"
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françois laughed, but in a really annoyed way. he suddenly jabbed the tooth into my snout. ouch i have to say! it may have been 70 millions of years old but it was still sharp! "only i may joke!" dr. therrien proclaimed.
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he was kidding mind you, but the tooth had been sharper then he'd thought. he said sorry, and we got back to investigating.
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after 2 hours both palaeontologists had come to a conclusion. my fossils were definitely telling a story.

both poached layers had been deposited by during brief floods of otherwise calm meandering rivers.

dr. brinkman was certain of this due to the fish bones i'd collected. fish are very preferential on the type of water system they live in... so their always a great indicator.

the samples of rock i'd grabbed from each site were both a fine grain clay based mudstone, which dr. therrien found to be a dead give away.

yet this didn't tell any of us anything more. it explained why i'd found so many clams and snails in the layers, but not what was being poached.

both scientists said they'd think on it when they could, however they had their own projects to get back too. i didn't mind, i'd wasted enough of their time.

it was just too bad i couldn't take them out to the site (i was pretty sure professor paradigm would have gotten word of my taking two of the world's top micro fossil experts into the field) as they no doubt would have spotted things out there i hadn't been able to tell them or bring back to the museum.

they also had permission to do more then surface collect. so we could have dug into the situation. i wasn't about to be as bad as the poachers and illegally dig myself... even if it meant i could catch them.

so some how i'd ended up at yet another dead end...

though there was something bugging me about those clams and snails. it occurred to me i forget mention their over abundance at the site to either dr. brinkman or therrien. i'd do it tomorrow i thought to myself, if my next plan was a bust.

i had one more angle. the one other place the poachers had hit.

the museum's geology collections... and as i'd found the "crime" scene before anyone else, i knew exactly which drawers they'd been after. i suspected the pack had been looking for clues on more spots to dig at. if i could figure out the clue they were looking for in the drawer, then i could use it to catch them!

to be continued: with a break in of my own!

3 comments:

Albertonykus said...

That's some interesting information. It's too bad it doesn't tell us much about the poaching, though. Let's see what you'll uncover in those geology departments.

Raptor Lewis said...

The plot thickens...Good Luck, Traum. Hopefully the Geology Department shows more promise than your microfossils, like Albertonykus said.

Dinorider d'Andoandor said...

I know them! Dr Brinkman from dinoshows and Dr Therrien from the Adocus fimding!