Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Soft Tissue Discovered!

Recently I received an article in an email from a colleague about soft tissue from a dinosaur. I know, can you believe it? I couldn't.

Earlier in 2006 a Tyrannosaurus rex femur (thigh bone) was recovered from Montana. The 70 million year old fossil was found to have soft tissue within it. Somehow the soft tissue had resisted fossilization. It is said the tissue includes blood vessels, bone cells and possibly blood cells. As to whether or not DNA can be extracted is yet to be determined. The likely hood of DNA surviving is extremely rare.

The article is from the California Academy of Sciences, Science Now and I would encourage you to have a look. Images of the soft tissue are available at the site.

Thursday, November 23, 2006


This morning I was working hard in the lab on Betsy's final field jacket removing matrix and separating stomach contents surrounding the pliosaur. So far the remains from the stomach contents have been microscopic to say the least, milimetres in size. So you can imagine my surprise when a larger fish vertebra was recovered amongst the smaller items. The vertebra (backbone) is approximately 1.2 cm in diameter. That's 7-8 times larger.

That was not the end of my excitement for the morning. Soon after about 15 cm away I found a second fish vertebra of approximately the same size. They are currently being cleaned and I will present the images in a future blog with other remains recovered from the stomach contents.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Only 1 Field Jacket Left

Following up on "Betsy" (a short-necked plesiosaur discovered in 2004) we are now down to the final field jacket. Yesterday with the assistance of volunteers we were able to cut the remaining jacket down to a workable level and lifted it onto a work bench. This is the largest jacket from this specimen, approximately 1 metre by 1.5 metres, weighing almost 400 pounds. Most of the skeletal remains including, hips, shoulders and numerous vertebrae are within this jacket.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Lab Update....Skull Revealed

Since Betsy's skull was brought into the lab a couple of weeks ago, I have been working hard with a volunteer to prepare it for display in 2007. Approximately 15 hours have been contributed thus far and almost all of the remains have been exposed in the field jacket. It is fractured in many places but overall the preservation is very good for this area.

I have noticed some interesting things while extracting the skull; stomach contents have been found within the skull region including many fish teeth possibly from Enchodus approximately 1cm in length. The interior of the skull also appears to be flipped and is in the opposite orientation of how it should be. Once I have a closer look I will hopefully have more answers about the specimen and possibly some clues as to where the rostrum (front of the skull) is located at the site.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Manitoba Paleontology Symposium

Save the date; SEPTEMBER 27-29, 2007
The CFDC is creating a Manitoba Paleontology Symposium (MPS) to be held at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre! The MPS will allow for Manitoban paleontologists to network and be informed on the current research emanating from the province. This is also an opportunity for other paleontologists originally from Manitoba studying elsewhere to show the province what they have contributed to paleontology. Other paleontologists conducting research relating to the paleontology of Manitoba are also encouraged to attend and present.
The MPS will consist of platform and poster presentations and a Paleo Expo highlighting paleontology resources. There will also be a welcome reception, banquet and field trip to the Manitoba Escarpment. Currently platform and poster presentations are being accepted. More information is available on the CFDC website

Student Assistance

Through the assistance of the University of Winnipeg, Chris West, a future paleontology student was recently hired to assist with the Betsy Stomach Contents analysis. He will be dissociating the fossil remains from the matrix, sorting them and cataloging them in a lab at the university.

It is encouraging to find students in Manitoba pursuing a career in paleontology. There are many paleontology resources our province has to offer that are under utilized. In that respect the CFDC will be hosting a paleontology symposium targeting the promotion of paleontology (both invertebrate and vertebrate) within Manitoba.

I hope Chris will enjoy his time with the CFDC and hope it will lead to future contacts and networking. Welcome aboard.