Tuesday, July 23

It was a chore doing day today. Up and into town this morning to do 2 weeks worth of laundry, then over to my favorite local coffee shop for a Chai latte and use (abuse?) of their free WiFi to upload some entries to this blog, catch up on some emails and work stuff from home, check Facebook, of course!, and send a few text messages. I grabbed a couple of things from the hardware store then got groceries and re-supplied with ice. Ran into a friend in the grocery and visited for a bit. Really nice to relax and do what comes up with much less scheduling in advance.

Back to camp about 2pm to put provisions and laundry away then threw on my digging clothes, made a sandwich for lunch and headed out on the ranch to work on our dig.

Here’s the triceratops tooth I found a couple of days ago in and amounts the exposed bones. It’s an almost complete tooth, not a typical shed tooth that’s normally a tooth fragment naturally lost in normal eating motions. Meaning…? Not sure yet, but maybe these bones are from the fellow, or lady, who belonged to this tooth. Maybe we’ve found several bones from a triceratops. Would be very cool if so.

I spent a couple of hours expanding the perimeter around the (so far) exposed bones to give us more room to see what’s there. And by “expanding” the perimeter, I mean digging up the surrounding soils to get close, but not hit, the “bone layer,” upon a where the fossils seem to be resting. I then worked to somehow get the remains of the aluminum frame of the shade canopy standing upright, even with all the center pieces – in pieces! I did it somehow and got the canopy up and onto the frame and maneuvered over the dig area. Not sure how but it’s standing up, with the shade canopy in place providing shade! Added 4-5 ropes to ground anchors to try to hold it down in place. It worked, and we’ll see for how long. Cleaned up all the spoils that fell down onto exposed bones and swept up (with whisk broom and paint brush) all the newly exposed surfaces of soils to see what we can see and to have a clean place to start the careful probing to find more bones. Found more bits and pieces of turtle shell and a cool crocodile scute (armor plate, like fish scales on fish, that cover its body for protection) and a true fish scale from a 66+ million year old gar-type fish.

We’re digging in badlands exposures at the surface that are from the Cretaceous period and that are dated to the very late stages of this period, making the fossils found in this strata approximately 65-69 I million years old. The specific name of this geological formation is the “Hell Creek” formation; named after a creek that must have been pretty nasty? The Hell Creek exposure covers a large area in several adjoining states: in eastern Montana, northwestern Wyoming, parts of southern N. Dakota and western S. Dakota. (Its a huge area of fossil-bearing soils now exposed at the surface in all these states {and into Canada, north of Montana}).

Worked at the site until almost dusk then back to camp for a warm shower and a wonderful steak on the grill. Look forward to getting out to the dig tomorrow morning; going to try to get out early because rain is in the forecast for the afternoon.