Wednesday, August 9

Went in town for ice (and one of my chai lattes!) first thing then back to camp, made up a lunch box and filled cooler with drinks then off to the Olivia triceratops dig site. Driving is fine again on this trail, but for a few deep ruts made when first passed through when really wet still. Got to the site and backed up the hill to the dig with no issues (this time). Saw a few antelope on my way back to camp. I’ve never been to Africa but these beautiful animals sure look like my image of an animal that belongs on the African savannah.

Lone male watching over a herd of female and young ones.
The group the male was keeping an eye on.

Worked on pedastaling the large piece of frill bone. It’s very fragile because it’s only about 1-1/2 to 2 inches thick and about 2’ x 3’ around. A big, flat, thin bone. To pedestal a fossil bone is to dig all around it on all sides straight down so the piece looks like it is now up on a pedestal. Then the really tricky part, dig away at the sides of the pedestal so that the you can tuck the burlap plaster soaked strips can go over the edges and “grab hold” of the underside of the piece in as many places as possible. This is so that after this top side is plastered with as many coats of burlap as needed, including draping it over all the edges and getting the burlap to get “purchase” on these edges, the dried, plaster coated piece can be “flipped” over so the bottom can be capped with a coat of plaster. The flipping is particularly anxiety causing. You or a group of yous break the hold of the soil/rock pedestal the piece is sitting on and then in concert, we “flip” the piece over. If it’s a large piece we often build up a pile of softer soils next to it so it can be turned over right on to this soft landing spot. We’ll see!

The frill piece covered with foil (rocks to hold foil down temporarily) to keep wet plaster off the fossil surface.

I plastered the frill piece every which direction and around all edges to make the field jacket as strong as possible. Put about 4 rounds of burlap over every bit of the exposed surfaces. May put more on tomorrow before we try to flip it. Spent the rest of the afternoon building a frame of wood to sit on top of the frill to support it when we flip it and to be a base for it to sit on. Connected the wood on top with two pieces that went under it to tie it all together – like a sandwich with the plastered frill being the baloney and the wood frames being the bread. Umm, I’m hungry! Nathan (one of the ranch owners adult children) came later in the evening to chat and help me carry the heavy, heavy scapula to my truck bed.

The scapula is in its jacket in the foreground. It’s heavy for sure. We used two shovel handles to make an impromptu stretcher to carry it over to my truck.

We wrapped up and headed back to camp about 8:45 for a nice meal together. Good to hang out with Nathan for a bit before I leave for the season.