Thursday, 8/5

It’s Jeff’s last day on site today so we elected to start off right – we naturally went into town for a coffee & chai latte!

We had a good day in the field today. Started at the triceratops site area where we worked together to expose a long bone Jeff found. It looks like it may be a rib, and from a hadrosaur. We struggled to expose it be aside it was in what Jeff described as the finest, softest play sand he’d ever seen. As fossil bone got exposed this light sand layer would just flow right out from under the specimen allowing the tiny, fractured pieces of bone to just lay over. Tricky job to collect this in tact. Ended up being about 20 inches long. As we dug back farther into the hillside matrix surrounding the piece became harder and more secure. Better for protecting the fossil and better for pedastaling it for application of a plaster and burlap field jacket. We got that accomplished and headed up above this spot to the location of the large piece of triceratops frill we jacketed the day before.

We got set up and added another thick layer of burlap and plaster to the “bottom” side of the triceratops frill piece. It’s getting heavier with each successive application of plaster but the strength it adds will be needed for the “ride” down the 100 feet (?) or so it needs to slide down the side of this gumbo clay exposed butte. It’s too big and heavy to carry, to insignificant to hire a helicopter(!) so slide it down the hillside is our best bet. We’ve attached boards as splints to the “top” side of the jacket then screwed 2×4’s to those splints to act as sleds or runners as we lower with rope attached the big ol’ fossil down off its perch up high. Who knows, we may even be able to back the truck tailgate up right against the side of the hill at the base and lower the fossil right into the truck!? We’ ll see about that.

Big hunk of bone that’s only a partial piece of whole frill behind the head.
Working on the Triceratops frill piece
Pano of site

We finished up on the triceratops for today and took off to the opposite side of the ranch to the Clarence site. When we were last here we jacketed a set of a couple of vertebrae and thought we saw more bone next to and under these pieces. More keeps showing! We flipped the jacketed bones and got them out of the way then cleared some overburden away from hill above us and started to expose this next set of bones! We did a time lapse video, so excited was I that this could be another good image to show you all what bones look like when just starting to “peek” out to when fully exposed. Take a look at this and see if you see what I thought I saw…..

Another band, another song title: “You can’t always get what you want (but you get what you need)”

Yep, those neat curves that kept being exposed sure looked like the outline of bones to me. Alas this happens sometimes and I chase something, spend time trying to carefully expose it just to determine, No that wasn’t a fossil after all. We we fooled by the nasty orange coating on these hunks of “ironstone” that are all over this site. Like “The Who” used to say, “I won’t get fooled again,” but I probably will be!

We cleaned up and headed out to return Jeff to the airport in Dickinson, ND for his trip home on Friday morning. New adventures await.