Playing with sandboxes

Smattering of 66 million year old dinosaur fossil bones from a hadrosaur

I sometimes (often) wonder about my adjusted actual age (aaa). My hobbies, interests, passions, conversations and general outlook seem dangerously close to childlike – maybe even infantile!

I’ve made two sandboxes and greatly enjoy both. One is holding up specimen 023-144, a small collection of hadrosaur fossil bones collected from the Hell Creek Formation in SE Montana several years ago and were fully cleaned and prepared last year. These fossil vertebrae and a few hip bones are @ 66 million years old.

View from above of the new sandbox!
Side view of Steve’s play sandbox with dinosaur hip bones and vertebrae from a hadrosaur.

The second sandbox is mounted below the first and holds my wife, Elizabeth’s, prized finds from her visit to the dig site during last summer’s field season. It was her first visit ever to one of our digs and she was a trooper amid the plague of locusts (grasshoppers), mice crawling around in the camper, extreme heat and less than ideal bathroom accommodations in camp. She caught on quickly to identifying the difference between rocks and scrap pieces of dinosaur bone and ancient fossilized turtle shell. She found several cool specimens and in between taking hundreds of photos found herself enamored with the stark white sand-bleached modern cow bones scattered about the ranch we were exploring. I took her cow bones, some cool-looking twisted and dried out pieces of cedar branches, petrified wood along with other neat rock samples she gathered and made the 2nd sandbox display in her honor. I’m looking for a catchy name/title for Elizabeth’s display – maybe “Elizabeth’s Dream Scene” or “I’m a paleontologist and my wife’s only interested in dead cows?” I’m not sure which to go with? Here’s her display box with her treasures she collected in July 2021.

Sun-bleached white modern cow bones amid Elizabeth’s crazy curled wood samples and petrified wood & other fun rocks.

Working on a new find now that we excavated in 2019 and 2021 (missed last year due to COVID restrictions on travel). It’s also a hadrosaur and we seem to have many more bones from this one specimen than we found with the hadrosaur pictured here. We’ve found legs, vertebrae, ribs, hip bones, some foot/toe bones and a bunch of fossilized (ossified) tendons. Will post more of this new find soon as we get further along with its preparation.