Thursday, August 10

I invite lots of folks to come out and check out what a dinosaur dig actually looks like and/or just prospect for fossils with me. Glad to do it and always have fun with it. Vaughn and Jessica were just silly enough to agree to come out to the ranch with their adorable twin 3-yr old daughters. I sure had a good time and think the whole crew did as well. The girls started truly identify fossils and differentiate them from rocks. Especially broken shards of fossilized turtle shell. I’d say they were close to expert by the time our day was done.

We started at camp and looked at some bones already in their protective plaster and burlap field jackets.
Just getting started to figure out the difference between fossils and rocks. Notice how far the twins stayed away from me – smart girls!
They each brought me things they were finding and progressively got better and better at identifying fossil bits and pieces.
Now we are finding things!

We had a good time doing some shaky climbing of the gumbo buttes and prospecting and following the cow trails from one fossil spot to another. The girls are adorable and each had their own personality, for sure. How cute. I enjoyed hanging out with them and searching away and showing others how this whole thing works.

Vaughn and the girls (notice how helpful I was to the parents by allowing the girls to each have an ice pick for digging fossils!)
Beautiful day and fun family out on the ranch fossiling it up!

After the group left I drove rest of the way out to the Olivia dig site to wrap it up for the year. Had the large frill piece to finish jacketing and then recover the rib fragments under it and …. See if the head is hiding right there under the pile of bones? Alas, it was not. Nothing else after the rib fragments. I flipped the frill piece over and the protective wood frame I built worked – supported the fragile piece very well and it flipped without dropping any of its chips! Once flipped over I added some more wood to support the whole piece and help it to be stable for the long drive home.

When first arrived today, ready for some more plaster to be added to affix the wood to the piece.
Plastering the wood to the frill jacket.
Flipped over in this image so the “bottom” is now up. Added the two braces on this side and plastered the opening that was the base of the pedestal of rock holding it up.
Sad site, kind of. Canopy, side tarps, all tools and water and plaster and burlap strips and shade umbrella all loaded up. Frill piece all secure and ready to be thrown over my shoulder and carried to the truck – NOT. it’s about 2’ x 3’ with some surrounding rock matrix in the jacket from the bottom side of the frill and added weight of the wood and plaster and burlap. Probably 350 pounds or more.

Unpacked the puzzle of the three or four rib fragment pieces that were poking out from under this big piece of frill. Gathered each up carefully as they were cross crossed over each other making removal just that much trickier.

Three rib fragments in this photo; can you ID the outline of the three ribs?

My friend, Nathan, nicely drove out to the site in a side by side little vehicle and was able to back right up to the frill piece so we could heft it into the lowered tailgate of the bed. Then backed it up to my lowered tailgate and slid it from one to the other. Too, too heavy to just lift (at least for me!). Nathan and I went out for a meal that evening in town instead of me going back to camp to break down stuff there to get ready to leave for home tomorrow. Good idea, go be with friends and have fun on my last day in Montana instead of working all evening in camp!