Wednesday 7/20

Ran into town this morning to get a few groceries and some ice for the two coolers. At 100 degrees the ice just doesn’t last long. Friends from Bloomington are coming to the ranch today while they are vacationing in Montana. They’re coming to check out the dig site and see what it’s all about. Brad and Erin and their two children.

We met up around 11:30 and all loaded into our truck for the drive out on the trails to the dig site. They had a 4-wheel drive vehicle but no clearance for the climbs up and down that we go through. We got to the site and talked about what’s happening there, how we find bones and how we go about excavating and getting them in shape to be field jacketed for the trip back to the workshop. Then we took a short hike to a spot I knew had some exposed bits and pieces of fossil bone and turtle shell weathering out at the surface. Did this so they could each get a feel for what to look for, the difference between a rock and a fossil (which can be remarkably hard). I hung with them showing them things and helping determine what they were finding. Tim stayed back at the dig working on excavating “his” rib he found and probing for new items. They were doing well so I left them to hunt and have fun as a family.

We had a dig site lunch at our “hobo camp” we’ve set up over Clarence. It’s a rag-tag canopy with offshoots to provide angled shade in several different directions. Takes dedication, perseverance, duct tape, bungee cords, and prayer to keep the whole thing going. I’ll have to take a photo or two of the set up so you can get a true feel for how hobo we really are! After lunch and studying the dig site map of bones found so far everyone got started in the area they each “knew” would produce the next sign of fantastic new bones! Fun to have 6 of us all working on peeling back layers of matrix looking for the faintest hint of bone that can signify the next find. We’re up to 88 bones found in this site so far. I think all four of them each found something to contribute while also stepping on each other’s fingers, shoveling dirt to close to another’s eyes and generally berating each other with taunts about who is the best dino hunter…

“Hobo” camp up & running!

I think Hattie won the prize today for this cute, little dark brown bone she found in two pieces a little distance from each other; they fit together as one and sure appear to be a toe bone from a theropod (meat eating) dinosaur. Definitely not from Clarence the hadrosaur. Here’s a photo of Hattie with the prize find.

Zoom in and you’ll see the way cool little toe bone she found.

Tim took a break and went prospecting around the corner and started excitedly calling us over the walkie-talkie; apparently he found something really neat nearby. We five were still at the dig now working on applying plaster and burlap field jackets to one bone and plaster caps on three more “bottoms” of jackets. It’s all hands on deck once the plaster gets mixed as it has a short shelf life once it starts to set. One person mixing and dipping burlap into the plaster slurry while three others accept the rolled up strips dripping with plaster and apply them to the foil covered bone in a varied pattern that adds strength once set and dry. Everyone did well. And we finally answered Tim’s call and it seems he’s found something. Getting late so we agreed to get back to Tim’s prize later and instead drive all back to camp so they could head to there sleeping place for the night. They claim they may return for a half day session tomorrow; we’ll see?

Tim and I started talking once our visitors left and decided (against all better judgement) to drive back to the site to check out his finds, even though it was by then 8pm. He did great! Found two very good condition vertebrae; one a dorsal (backbone) and the other a caudal (tail). Great eye, Tim. We probed and dug around the larger one and it seems to be pretty intact. Getting really dark so had to cut it off for the night. We drove back to camp very carefully and had a fun rest of our last night together with a great meal, cards and college stories. Here are some photos of vertebrea Tim found & the Clarence dig from a distance in evening light

Back vertebra Tim found
Same vert being excavated.
Tail vertebra
Here’s the info same tail vert out of the ground.
Clarence dig site from across the draw (the washed out gulley)