Thursday, July 25

Good friends’ birthday today; twin brothers from Bloomington who are both cherished friends. Both have been on several fossil hunting trips in the past and are missed this year. You know who you are!

Up and at it early again today. Feels good to be out at the dig site before the direct heat of the day is on us. Easy prep to get started to dig as the shade canopy is already up and pretty well secured, so I just remove the tarp from the top of the site and ready to dig. Only remove one small scrap of bone from the site today; most of my time was spent carefully clearing the matrix away from a set of ossified tendons.

The fossilized pieces of muscle are all crisscrossed over each other. They typically are found against the tail vertebrae processes (the parts that stick straight up from top of each vertebrae) and function to strengthen the massive tails of hadrosaurs and triceratops. Not sure yet what we’ve found but I’m leaning toward triceratops bone. Found the one intact tooth, these ossified tendons, and today uncovered what appears to be the head (part rests against vertebrae) of a massive rib bone.

Seems larger than I’ve seen from any hadrosaur. So today’s guess is a triceratops specimen; we’ll see what tomorrow brings. (Maybe tomorrow brings evidence of a skull?!)

Had some visitors at the dig today; Howard & May Lyn stopped by to check in on me. They work at this cattle ranch and where out & about checking on fence and locating some cows & calves who found a way out of their designated pasture. Ranch hand Dan visited as well. I know and appreciate them all. Good to have some visitors and know they’re keeping an eye out for me.

Showed them all some crocodile scutes (boney armor scales than fossilize), turtle shell and gar (fish) scales found in and amongst the bones.

These items along with studying the patterns present in the walls and “bottom” layers of the dig site are evidence of the watery environment surrounding the animal where it died or where the bones ended up after death.

Seeing lots of pebbled surfaces and curved patterns in the base/bottom of the dig.

Seems like the sediments along with fish & crocodile evidence point toward pond or other still water setting.

Uncovered more of the fossil muscle pieces today and worked to prepare the shin bone (fibula) for removal from the “pile” of bones.

The large bones seem to be laying all over each other; making installation of the plaster & burlap field jackets harder to do without damaging the bone under the one targeted next for removal. The trick is to remove the one on top, separating it from the one below, without damaging either! Quite a trick, indeed. In clearing matrix away from the fibula we found the distal end (knee joint) of a big femur bone laying directly below and found the beginning of what appears to be that massive rib bone.

Plan is to install the field jacket on the fibula tomorrow so it can be safely removed from the pile so additional bones can be accessed.