here is the blurb they have provided me with:
The two-hour special PREDATOR X premieres on HISTORY; on Sunday, March 29 at 8pm ET/PT. On the remote archipelago of Svalbard, just 800 miles from the North Pole, a team of paleontologists from the University of Oslo Natural History Museum, have made a remarkable discovery. Buried beneath the icy landscape of the Arctic are the fossilized remains of a huge creature from the distant past. PREDATOR X is the story of a major discovery; what appears to be an entirely new species; of a massive and powerful predator. The scientific team must excavate it, determine its significance and try to rebuild it to see what it was like; as they discover the astounding power of which this creature was capable. PREDATOR X follows the expedition every step of the way, from painstaking field research to the astonishing find of the amazing creature. The special delves deep into this terrifying ancient mystery, uncovering what is one of the most amazing underwater finds in modern history. Visit http://bit.ly/VEFu4 for more information.
sounds cool. though i have to say the discovery of this massive pliosaur's bite force has me bummed. as a t-rex i was pretty happy to be in possession of the strongest known jaws on earth (even if mine haven't yet grown to that capacity... i still pack a mean bite let me assure you!).
sadly due to my on going field work, and thus lack of a TV, i won't be able to catch this one. if you manage to watch it, let me know what you think!
home of the atlas coal mine historic site and museum. this is the only remaining coal mining site left in the valley, and the last remnant of drumheller's glorious past as a hub of mining.
i always get a little sad around here. there is a lot of history about the place, which isn't surprising as ALL the mines buildings and structures are intact and preserved. you can't but notice and feel the stuff that went down around here.you also can't help but see it in the rocks either when fossil/quarry hunting. this end of the vallery is jam packed with coal seams!
so much so that you get a lot of eroded coal covering the other layers in the hills. like this spot here. this can be annoying not only does it make it often harder to find stuff, but it can make the other layers rock type harder to identify...
coal of course is the left over remains of a swamp, though a fossil itself, is terrible for finding anything else. the acid from all the decomposing plants in the swamp would eat away any other potential fossils long before they could be preserved.
at least i could sure now there weren't anymore out here.
as in my actual vantage point.
one of the key things to finding a lost quarry is spotting key landmarks that are in the old photographs. if you can find and line up a landmark you can triangulate and locate a long age dig site.
so far my field work had kept me below hill level, and i was getting no closer to finding anything (or at least that's how it felt).
so i had an idea for today to see if i could change that.
walking to the valley wall i decided to climb to the top. as this is the side of the badlands it has the highest perspective, and i hoped from up there i'd be able to see more of the valley's distinctive hills.
that sounded easier than it actually was though. man those hills are deceptively steep!
it took me a little while to climb all the way up to the top.
it was worth it for the view. for example this nice one of the tyrrell.
at the same time it turned out to be a total waste of time due to the view...
it turns out looking down into the badlands just doesn't quite help the problem.
when viewed from above all the hills end up looking the same. when you get below them and are looking up at the hill you have the sky behind them to notice details, and from you get a better idea of scale. from up on top of the valley the hills look more like mounds in a way, and you certainly can't tell them apart from each other easily.
so not so helpful afterall...
climbing down i thought i might as well talk about the very top layer of the valley while i'm up here. as typically i don't poke around this geologic unit, and nor was i likely too again anytime soon!
here is the top layer of the red deer river valley. the one above the green line, which you might remember from my 3rd palaeo challenge.
this "unit" (as the pros call it) is known as the glacial lake drumheller layer, and is the remnant of the mechanism that created the valley and the badlands in the first place.
two million years ago, in the neogene period, the ice age began and covered a lot of canada (and then later on part of the united states too) with ice. now i'm not talking about a little bit of ice. more like 2km thick sheets of ice as far as the eye could see (or not see, as would have been the case for under your feet)!
this huge amount of ice weighed so much, and moved with such power that removed huge amounts of sediment from the prairies (it was like a surface based tectonic plate!). this removal of layers cut down rocks laid down in the cretaceous which until then had been deep underground (of rocks laid down after the dinosaurs extinction)...
about 20,000-15, 000 years ago the glaciers had retreated to the north side of where the red deer river valley is today. the valley wall i JUST climbed would have been the edge of the ice (minus the erosion that has expanded the valley about a km since it was formed, but it is close enough for me to think that is cool)...
at this point in time, due to re increasing global temperatures, the glaciers were melting (slowly mind you). as of such they were producing a lot of melt water. some of this was trapped behind the glaciers ice, causing giant ice locked lakes...
(Production Note: Video from John Accorn's Adventures in Discovery)
eventual the wall of ice holding in this water melted, and let loose a WHOLE lake worth of water at once. naturally this caused a flood event, and that water needed somewhere to go! watch the video at this point to see what i'm talking about.
as there were no set drainage systems in place the water carved itself a new one... what you and me call a valley.
this cut into the prairies, cutting straight into the fossil rich layers of the cretaceous, which are present throughout most of alberta, but are underneath other layers (which again in the prairies the ice scooped off). meaning alberta has a unbelievably huge supply of fossils in it, most of it is buried deep beneath the surface... much like most places in the world, only we get lucky and have a few exposures of these layers in these glacial run off valleys.
which as a story is cool. which if your a geologist is cool. which if your a dinosaur fossil hunter is uncool...
the reason being is that this top layer of fine yellow mudstone is about 64 980 000 years to recent to contain any dinosaur bone... or any other mesozoic era fossils. meaning if your looking for those sorts of fossils like me, this layer is useless!
not to mention unfun to get to... being so high up the hills!
the glacial lake drumheller layer is not completely devoid of fossils mind you. all throughout this very recent unit are the shells of little fresh water snails that lived in the freezing cold lake (about the only thing tough enough to survive in the 4 degree water!). which are neat, but just don't enthrall me after a few, and certainly not worth the huge climb up the hill to find them.
besides i see enough of them while looking for fossils. some of them end up washing down the hill to the bottom of the valley, and you can find them along side equally eroded and washed out dinosaur bones...
anyways back to the prospecting trail i guess (as i can't use a drawing board in this case)...
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...
a intact tyrannosaurid tooth!
as these were rocks of the horseshoe canyon formation that means it almost certainly has to an albertosaurus' tooth.
i had to move on if i was going to pick up the trail of francis slate...
amy "dug up" this old presentation i did for the badlands sciency camp. the nice folks over at prehistoric insanity have been nice enough to help me turn it into a plog (which i used to call vlogs, but it was pointed out to me that a vlog is typically a moving picture, where mine are just still ones with a voice over. so i figured i needed to give my format a new name... so taaa-da! welcome to my "first" plog!)
this used to be the power point introduction for an educational program where kids at camp would help sort micro fossils for actual scientific research by dr. donald brinkman of the royal tyrrell musuem! you might recognize some of the pictures in it from my first ever big adventure on this blog over 2 years ago!
now of course watching these plogs remember that they were made back when i still worked for the museum, and that a lot has changed in my life since then (in particular how i get along with my cousin larry!)
the reason i'm uploading these in the middle of my recent field work is that i just found a big cache of micro fossils, and rather than retype all this out I thought why not share this great Palaeo FACT! of mine from the old days!
so now that you know you're micros, i can tell you all about my recently found micro site!... next post that is...
so i feel back to my self-made head quarters, the royal tyrrell museum.
mostly for a quick afternoon break, as the hot weather was getting to me (we tyrannosaurs were not adapted to living in an arid hot place like the badlands... more a humid hot place like a swamp land), and i was running low on provisions... like slurpees! okay i didn't have any of those in the field, but they were nice to have now!
while i was here, it was a great chance to "bone" up on my palaeo facts, and refresh my fossil IDing know how.
till today that is.
as i wandered the dinosaur hall i couldn't help but notice an off putting smell, as we t-rexs have incredibly sensitive noses. it was something that instinctively i didn't like much, but couldn't put my claw on. it reminded me of when larry was around, but yet it smelt really different than larry.
as i rounded the corner by the lone albertosaurus skeleton (i specify as the tyrrell has 3 alberto skeletons on display!) i came face to face with the source of the smell. a male tyrannosaurid! which made sense we tyrannosaurids were territorial critters!
he stopped metres away upon seeing me as well. we both starred at each other intently sizing each other up, which was definitely more work for tiny little me!
there was no question this was a male albertosaur. he was very similar to lillian, but he was gracile, that is sciency for saying thin and lighter built, and lacked all the hot bulky features of lillian (as again in tyrannosaurids the females are the big strong tough ones, not us males). despite the fact he wasn't as powerfully built or imposing as lillian would have been beside him, compared to baby sized me he was rather scary.
i must have been quite confusing to him, as the alberto just kept looking at me confused for a minute. it wasn't till i uncomfortably shifted my shirt that it must have twigged in his head who i was. stupid human habit! if i hadn't learned to pick up that shirt rearranging nervous twitch from craig, this albertosaur may never have realized i was wearing a museum uniform at all!
however it did, and next thing i knew i had a very scary metre long head just in front of me with teeth bared. i returned the favour, not that it mattered much. my teeth were about as scary to him as someone pulling out a sewing pin at a mugging! each of his teeth were nearly half the length of my whole skull!
"what do you think you're doing here, runt?" the dude albertosaur asked in a menacing tone.
okay, i thought i was supposed to be stupid? that was the easiest question ever to answer. "visiting the museum," i stated matter of factly.
much like seeing me in the first place, my answer threw him off. there was a pause. at the same time i wasn't too keen on the dead time. having a fully grown tyrannosaurid poised to chomp down on you, while its unhappily thinking about your cheeky retort... that would be my stupidity kicking in! why did i have to tick off a crony of larry's?!?
finally dude (i never did catch his name) regathered his thoughts. he let out a very ominous chuckle (which in tyrannosaurese amounts to a low rumbling growl). "if you say so," as he eyed me closely and drew his fangs apart in a threatening manner. "whatever you were up to is over as of right now! you're cousin would very much like to see you again. i just never thought i'd be lucky enough to deliver you to the patriarch personally myself."
there was no way i could get out of range of him biting me. if i could just get a slight head start i'd be able to outrun him no problem. albertosaurs might be the fastest of the large tyrannosaurids, but a full grown one is no match for a juvenille tyrannosaur. yet he was keeping me in lunging range, so if i made a move i was probably going to be his lunch.
before i could think of something (probably stupid) to save myself, a group of tourists rushed over, cameras flashing as they came.
hehehehe, man i knew not only how to use this to escape, but i could milk it as i went. in tyrannosaurese i taunted him "you can tell larry i said hi, but i won't be able to make over for a visit," i stopped in a delibrate and cool fashion, just like a movie action hero delievering a line. "you can tell him i was helping you do his job."
his snarl gave away he really wanted to kill me right then, but the humans now would see it. one of the pack's greatest goals in life was to keep coelurosaurs the dominantly popular dinosaur group in human pop culture. killing me in a family friendly museum won't be a good move towards that cause.
before the albertosaur could retort i turned to the crowd, and in english offered. "who wants their picture taken with my big friend here?"
won't you know it. every single one of them did! the best part the albertosaur couldn't do anything to stop me. it was his job! next thing i knew i had dozens of cameras in my tiny arms and around my neck, and happily i snapped away photos.
twenty minutes it took! the whole time i made sure i had tons of people between me and him. as i handed off the last camera, i made sure i kept up with the happy little boy and his mom half-pretending to make sure it was a good photo (i say half as of course my main motivation for keeping up with them was staying alive, but at the same time i do pride myself on my photography!).
from behind me though i heard him bellow (in tyrannosaurese of course, so none of the tourists understood his threat) "you'll regret insulting me like this! you better not being staying in town! if you are i'll find you, and track you down!"
regret that stunt? man that was too much fun. i haven't partaken in a tourist photo shot since i worked here.
as for him tracking me down...there was no way i was going to get that close to that albertosaur again! now that i had a face to the smell, i'd be able to steer a whole km away from him on account of my nose from now on! if he thought he was going to catch me in a chase he really hasn't thought things through!
so long mr. albertosaur! i really do hope he tells larry i was here. if the pack hasn't been able to do anything to me until now, what's the worst this one albertosaur is going to do to me now?
to be continued...
it may very well be of interest to you on the innerweb, especially if you've never been out fossil hunting before.
before i start, just a fun factiod: the fancy palaeolotogic term for fossil hunting is prospecting. prospecting is just walking around looking on the ground for either the fossils themselves or traces of them being around somewhere nearby.
prospecting for fossils can be a very hard thing. especially when you look at the amount of ground i have to potentially look over! just in this picture i could spend all week going up and down the visible slopes searching for fossils.
however for the sake of looking for lost quarrys, i need to cover a lot of ground and get to a lot of good vantage points to look for potential landmarks present in the photos of francis slate. so fossil hunting has to be efficient and doable while i'm moving between these lookout points, or i just can't afford to look for fossils.
i don't want to waste this opportunity wandering the badlands. there are tons of new fossils just sitting there to be found, but i also want to find evidence of slate. so i'm thinking why not combine both types of exploration into this one expedition. fortunately for me there is a way to do both too!
this is exactly the sort of fossil batch i'm looking for. you'll probably recognize it from my recent palaeo challenge #2 (which no one got quite right... so here is the right answer).
just as i'd hoped for, dinosaur bone! however if i didn't pick it up there was a chance it could have been petrified wood (or even a REALLY annoying ironstone!). however my closer inspection confirms this clump of fossil were all pieces of dinosaur bones.
now i should have realized that unless you have experience hunting for fossils my palaeo challenge is EVEN harder without a close up look at the site. i took the picture for the challenge while standing up, so the details of those bone fragments were lost.
there are a few differences between these and the bone in my first journal entry.
it is that last point that is most important.
i was very thrilled when, after climbing nearly to the top of a hill, i came up just underneath this bone protruding from the wall.
this is an exciting moment. you could looking at the first visible part of a huge discovery... or at the same time you could be in for a slight let down as it turns out to be just a minor find.