Jason and I got up and going this morning and headed out on the ranch to the Clarence the hadrosaur dig site. It was cool (cold) last night and is a classic beautiful Montana morning now here today; crisp and clear with not a cloud in the big blue sky. We got to the dig site and studied the site map which is drawn to scale and shows every bone so far collected here. The assignment for Jason was to study the map and point to where any more bones (how about the skull, Jason!) may be lurking just past where we have stopped digging. We settled on what we thought the most likely area would be; to the south side of the site where the last bones were found and where the trend seemed to point us. We removed the rock and soil overburden from about a 5’ wide by 2’ deep by 2-3’ tall area to get down to the likely “bone layer,” the location where most of the bones have been found. After a lot of swinging of pick axes and shoveling the result over the hill we settled down on our knees (on kneeling pads) to start the process of carefully probing and sifting through the soils and rock looking for any sign of fossilized bone.
We worked and worked at it but, alas, found no more bones from Clarence. We did find quite a few small fragments of bone and turtle shell and a few very cool isolated items but no Clarance. While carefully sifting through the soils from the “bone layer” we collected several teeth and a tiny vertebra. None of these items were from our dino. A few crocodile teeth and a small, slender and very pointed tooth from a theropod (meat eating dinosaur). We know this tooth is from a meat eater by the serrations (denticles) that can be seen and felt along the ridges on each side of the tooth. Pretty cool. Here’s a photo of a few of the items found today –
Here’s a link to a video Jason took of us walking to the Clarence site from our truck. https://youtu.be/g64CASySlFU
So it comes to pass that today was the last day for the dino we call Clarence. We’ve found and removed @90 bones from him at this site along with many other small items that will help tell the story of where he died and what was going on around him. Crocodiles, turtles, meat eating dinosaurs about, fish scales so fish were present, etc…. We have a lot of work to do back in the lab, cleaning and preparing the bones as well as assessing what all the other miscellaneous items mean to where he died, what happened after and possibly how. So goodbye Clarence, was fun working this site with many friends and helpers over three plus digging seasons. Thanks to everyone who helped.
We left the dig site and ended our day on a walk about prospecting for any new finds. Jason came across a small piece of dino bone poking out of the ground which led him to the better part of a vertebra. He found it on his own, dug it on his own and packaged it up for carrying out. It’s a very cool good sized partial dorsal (backbone) vertebra. Good job Jay!
We finished up removing all items from the Clarence site and headed back to camp for well deserved showers and a nice camp made meal. Beautiful weather today, forecast calls for a nice, cool night and good weather the remainder of the week. Tomorrow is a new day and we’ll be looking for the next significant find that may lead to a significant dig for future years.