29.3.09

predator x on history channel

the history channel has asked me again to plug their new documentary predator x which premires tonight at 8pm on most of their stations (north america wide... not sure about elsewhere in the world though... i guess check your local listings).

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!

28.3.09

field journal #6

my luck looking for francis slate's lost quarrys had not been so good thus far.
though i'd been finding some cool stuff along the way, i also hadn't made any earth shattering discoveries along the way either.

rather than risk getting my spirits down, i decided to shake things up and switch where i was looking. i'd been centering around drumheller itself, due to its rocks having a higher occurrence of dinosaurs (check out my post on geologic layers for the full details). however i did know that francis slate had been working in other areas in this region of the valley.

so i decided to shift my hunt to pretty much the opposite end of the drumheller area, and head 30 minutes east to the small villa of east coulee...

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...

not that you have to ID that many layers. more than half the major coal seams in the valley run through the east end of the valley. which is why so many more coal mines used to exist down here, than in drumheller proper.

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.

so despite the abundance of coal mines here from the 1910s till the 1940s, there was quite the lack of fossil hunters during that time.
though in the layers between the coal we do get a few fossils. these are funny enough not from land animals or plants at all though. rather shallow marine (aka ocean) critters. such as this clam.

the rock layers at this end of the valley are from the end of the bear paw era (74 mya to 72 mya), which was a warm time period world-wide. meaning sea levels were high, and so the middle of north america was underwater like pictured above. this part of alberta was the coastline of the interior seaway, called the bearpaw sea (hence the time periods name), during this time.
as the sea level fluctuated over time it would flood this area, and thus we get marine (again oceanic) sandstone layers with fossil shellfish (and very rarely things like fish and marine reptiles... VERY rarely mind you!). at other times the sea would retreat, and open this up to be wet swamp lands. as the ocean would invade again it would bury these swamps, and thus why we get as coal seams.
so what would francis slate be doing out here? well during his time the geology of this area was just being figured out (quite possibly by him in some places in fact), and thus he probably wasted time exploring it... much like me today. only i was hoping to merely mimic his waste of time, and find a spot where the was time wasteage had occurred (the whole while in my time i'd have made a brilliant use of my time!).

darren tanke had found his only slate site around the atlas coal mine (and the only other known slate quarry was my birthplace!). mr. slate had found part of a mosasaur, one of the only on record from this part of alberta, just up the river from the atlas 4 mine.
by the end of my day looking, darren's site was going to remain the sole lost quarry location around here.
francis slate was pretty consistent on only recording scientifically important spots. with the lack of any fossils out here other than shellfish, it made sense that none of the other slate field reports were going to be from the bear paw (again mosasaurs or any marine reptiles for that matter aren't common here by any stretch... so his one find was incredible as was).

at least i could sure now there weren't anymore out here.
the thing is i know from his field reports most of slate's activities in the drumheller area were around the many coal mines operating during that time. i was drawn to the atlas 4, because it was the only still standing mine in the valley. with my tiny brain it drew my attention as the sole mine i could easily pinpoint. all the others were long gone. mostly...
watching the sun set over the valley i knew somewhere out there not only were slate's old dig sites, but so were the ruins of dozens of old coal mines.
i was going to have to track down these mines if i was going to find slate...
and for that i was going to need some help!

27.3.09

fossil of the weekend! #21


the skull of my aunt black beauty. the most impressive albertan tyrannosaur (no offense to my mom, mind you, but she is kinda headless...)

25.3.09

field journal #5

if i was going to find the lost quarrys of francis slate i was going to need to change my point of view in my search...

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...

video
(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)...

24.3.09

my cousin of the week #6

a new zealand wood pigeon. not only pretty, but they are HUGE. about 3 times bigger than a common pigeon. also very tame. i just walked up to this one to take this photo!

20.3.09

fossil of the weekend! #20

a close up of an albertosaur tooth i found in the badlands around drumheller canada. note the perfectly preserved serrations along the upper edge of the tooth.

16.3.09

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...).
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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!
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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...

15.3.09

micro fossils vlog style!!!

man, oh man! i knew that returning to my old hometown would dredge up some old memories. little did i realize some of these would be videoized ones!

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!

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so now that you know you're micros, i can tell you all about my recently found micro site!... next post that is...

fossil of the weekend! #18

a cast of an american allosaurus in the canterbury museum, christchurch NZ. (it being american only makes sense as new zealand doesn't have any dinosaurs this complete!)

10.3.09

a bad odour (pack meddling part 0)

as you probably know i've been out in the field the last few days looking for the lost quarrys of francis slate. i've covered a lot of ground, and checked out a huge areas of the badlands around the museum. however one can only be out in "the middle of no where" for so long before they need to fall back on base camp.


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.

even though i'd been back in drumheller, and around the museum for almost a month i hadn't really run into many other vivus-dinosaurs in the tyrrell... my understanding was because there weren't many working here anymore, not since i'd been laid off.

that's because my cousin the big JERK!, larry the tyrannosaur, and his coelurosaur-only club the pack of the primordial pack forced the museum to get rid of all its none pack members. leaving the place pretty empty of vivus- dinosaurs .
yet not completely empty it would turn out! for you see in the place of the museum's old star attraction, the beautiful lillian, the pack had put in their own albertosaur replacement for her. one who i had no idea was on staff at the museum, and i hadn't run into...

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."

oh man not good! i thought i'd had the last of my issues with the pack when larry visited me in new zealand.

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...

8.3.09

field journal #3

today i made a potentially exciting find in my attempt to track the lost quarrys of francis slate, this morning!

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!
by keeping all my prospecting at the baseline of the badland's hills i can get around easily to my various vantage points, and yet do a pretty effective sweep for fossils inbetween them.
wandering in coulees like this one above (again coulee is the local term for natural drainage whether it be a tiny groove in the side of a hill or a huge valley) i can find fossils that are even at the very top of hill!
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which might seem like me wishfully thinking. as there is no way for me to see fossils all the way at the top. so i can't be claiming to watch for them as i walk by. rather the fossils let me know there up without me having to look higher than my feet!
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here is a bunch i found just today wandering a medium size coulee. this was the best clutch i'd found yet (hence the post).
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i was really excited. finding one of these can mean you're just metres away from a HUGE find!!!

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).
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the bits i'm interested in are the white and/or orange ones.

to make sure they're what i want, i pick one up for closer inspection. once you have some experience, you can eyeball fossils that are on the ground while you are standing straight up, but even a pro like me will often need to bend over for a closer look.

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.
i'll take you in close so you can see what to look for in the field yourself.

these two pieces are perfect. not only do they preserve the smooth outer bone shell, with its "wood like" grain (note i said wood LIKE, fossil woods' grain is not nice perfect straight line like bone funny enough!). on the edges of these chunks in the photo you can make out the bubbly texture of the inner bone marrow.

another common look of broken bits of dinosaur bone is an almost polished look like these pieces here have.

the orange colour that threw a lot of you off in the palaeo challenge was caused by lichens growing on the bone. these algae/fungus hybrids will start to appear on fossils that are exposed on the surface for a while, and will eventually eat them into dirt (literally!).
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though they're not restricted to just fossils, it is good prospecting practise to look at heavy concentrations of lichen as they tend to grow quick thickly on bone.

these of course are just broken bits of bone though. you're no doubt asking "traumador, why are you so excited about them? you already showed and told us about broken dinosaur bones! you weren't primed about it..."

there are a few differences between these and the bone in my first journal entry.
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1. there are lots of bits of broken dinosaur bones together here
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2. these have not been moved from far away and reburied like my last one.
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3. rather these are just lying on the surface. which means they've only just been washed down the hill recently.

it is that last point that is most important.
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the forces of erosion water, ice, heat, cold, wind, and gravity are all constantly wearing away at not only the rocks of the badlands, but also the fossils contained within them. so when a fossil is exposed to the surface, due to the rock that had been isolating it being eroded away, the bone itself will begin to fall apart into small pieces through the same processes that took away the rock.

which is what i've found here. their broken bits that have nicely washed down to the bottom of the hill in a snow melt or heavy rainstorm. sure they signify a really broken bone somewhere up the hill (not really worth finding just by itself), but where there is one bone often there are more (especially in the case of a desired complete skeleton!).
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the best part is these broken bits not only wash to the bottom of the hill where they are much easier for me to find, but if i follow them up the hill they act just like a bread crumb trail to their source. leading me too...
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whole dinosaur bones!!!

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.

hoisting myself up to the bone i looked in to examine it.
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had i found a complete skeleton?!? or even just a partially articulated bit of bones (articulate being the fancy term for the bones that are together in the way they would have been in the living animal... aka the foot bones connect to the leg bones which themselves connect to the knee bones etc.).
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articulated at all? no, sadly not this time... so a minor let down there. though i shouldn't be surprised. they say it takes about 200 hours of hunting in the badlands to find even a mediocre articulated site. this was only a few days into my expedition.
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it may not have been an articulated skeleton i'd found, but it might have been a really nice bonebed!
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bonebeds are like a garbage dump for fossilized animals. you get only random bones from all sorts of creatures from the prehistoric environment, but seldom do any of the bones came from the same individual animal (and even if they might you can never prove it sadly). they're not great for finding new unknown animals (though it does happen if any of their single bones are truly unique), but bonebeds are great for studying beasts already known to science.
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for example it was bonebeds, similar to this one, that have helped show that duck bill and horned dinosaurs lived in herds. often we find bonebeds that are dominated by 80-90% of the bones being from a single type of animal. if these animals all died together in such numbers (from dozens to thousands) it only makes sense they were probably living together first before they died.
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the other neat thing about bonebeds is that sometimes they can go on for kilometres! meaning that if i went and found this same layer in the hills surrounding this one (which used to be connected till the space between the hills eroded away and separated them) i could very well find that the bonebed carries on there, and so forth for dozens of such hills till the bonebed finally stopped...
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now as i found this bonebed around drumheller i could immediately make a safe guess about the ID of my bonebed's occupants. a closer look at the half broken but still easily identified pulvic bone (that is one of the bones of the hip) confirmed this was a hadrosaur bonebed. most likely edmontosaurus, as most of the bonebeds around drumheller are edmontos.
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i'd need to find some skull bones to confirm that, and around the surface there just weren't any to find. so the bones could have been from any one (or more... as bonebeds aren't always just 1 type of animal) of the many known duck bills from the horseshoe formation. check out my dinosaurs of alberta post for more details on that.
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sadly there weren't any duplicate bones present on the surface. what means i couldn't find 2 of any one type of bone, such as two left femurs or two right wrist bones etc. if i could have, than i could confirm this was a bonebed with more than one animal present, rather than a disarticulated skeleton (disarticulated meaning the bones are scattered and jumbled from how they were in real life) of just one animal.
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a disarticulated skeleton could be a big deal, and be a big discovery. as again it is a skeleton of a whole animal, unlike a bonebed which are just random singular unrelated bones.
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from what i was seeing though it wasn't going to be a great skeleton, even IF it was one. all i had were many random vertebrae and ribs (like this rib pictured above) which are normally common at both skeletal and bonebed sites. the only really unique bones were that pelvic bone and a ulna (lower arm bone). it also looked like a lot of the inital outcrop had been eroded. meaning if it was a skeleton it was already gone...
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my money was on a bonebed though. their way more common around here, and the ulna and the pelvic bone seemed a different scale to each other (to me anyway, but i'm no EXPERT... simply a little experienced). that was good news too. even if a huge chuck of the site had eroded out, a bonebed could easily carry on into the hill.
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i'd report it to the museum, and let someone from there check it out if they were interested.
as sad as it is to say they probably won't be. bonebeds are a dime a dozen around here, and most don't offer anything remarkably different to the rest. that and it takes weeks or months to work a bonebed properly (meaning with the known bonebeds just around drumheller you're looking at about 50-100 years worth of work!).
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with the number of legitimately interesting and new things potentially out here, it is best for the museum to wait for someone like me to find the better fossils sites, and then spend the time on those instead!
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at least this find made for a good journal entry at least, but i'll have to catch you on the next one! i'm moving on past this bonebed...

6.3.09

fossil of the weekend! #17

a cast skeleton of the duckbill shantungosaurus.