Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Montana - Day 2

Things were off to a great start this morning. The weather was nice and cool with a great breeze. You could barely feel the heat. However it did reach 42 C and we were a bit tuckered towards the end of the day.

We began prospecting at a different site, just west of the one yesterday and within minutes our rookie participant discovered the remains of a soft shelled turtle. " I just thought it looked interesting by its texture but never thought it would be something" remarked Jennifer Cassils after excavating through hard siltstone.

After much deliberation, it's suggested that the turtle belongs to the genus Trionyx from the Hell Creek Formation, approximately 65 million years old.

Our paleo student, Chris West worked on his very first field jacket today. He helped the group to jacket a frill from a Triceratops. Way to go!

I don't know what we'll be doing tomorrow but I'm sure it'll be exciting.

The Heat Is On

The forecast calls for heat, heat, and more heat! Yes, it is true, the fossil crew braved the extreme hot weather last week. Every single day of the blazing heat wave, the fossil crew was in search for fossils.

Last week, monday, was a one day excursion. Thankfully, Evan took time the night before to haul a 200 pound battery and solar panel up to our dig site. This allowed us to hook up an electrical fan and provide little refuge from the 40 plus weather. Despite the heat, the group left with a smile and had a great time!

The next day, tuesday, was a paleo tour. This time I was responsible for taking the group out. At first I was skeptical about the 33 plus weather, with 100% humidity, making it feel well over 40. But we made the best of it. No, we didn't cook eggs on the sidewalk, instead the group opted for a tour of the Manitoban escarpment. So I showed them Spencer's ditch and Mt.Nebo, and we even managed to fit a little bit of digging time. So far 2 points for the CDFC and 0 points for the heat!

Last wednesday was recorded to be one of the hottest days in manitoba, with the humidity making it feel 50 plus! Again, this did not stop the fossil crew. But more accurately put, this did not stop Dave Lumgair. Dave Lumgair is the person who discovered Bruce on his farm yard in 1974. He is now retired and still invites the CFDC to his property to find more fossils. So this is what we did, we went to his farm to try to find a new mosasaur. Instead we found the brink of heat exhaustion! As we were panting, faces red, and trying to climb up the hills, there was Dave, with a smile as he effortlessly hiked up all the hills. I couldn't not believe it! Dave appeared like he was not affected at all by the heat. At the end of the day, as we were all hanging by a thread, Dave was still enthusiastic, ready to explore more of his farm! It was incredible to see how much endurance he has!

At the end of wednesday, it finally rained. The rain replenished the land as it also replenished our spirits. This week really showed our resilience and our dedication to our field work. So whether its rain, shine, or heat wave, we'll be out there looking for fossils!


Monday, July 30, 2007

Student Exchange - Part II

We began the second part to the Manitoba-Montana Paleontological Student Exchange yesterday July 29. Participants from Manitoba traveled to Jordan, Montana. I'm glad to say we arrived safely!

Things are extremely hot!!! It was our first day out in the field and the temperatures reached 44 C. At least its a dry heat and we survived. The day began with field jacketing a lower jaw and beak from a Triceratops. Everything flipped safely.

Tomorrow we're off to a new site to jacket a larger ceratopsian (horned dinosaur) and to begin prospecting for that ankylosaur I promised their curator I would find!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Luck be a FOSSIL tonight!

For the last few days, there has been a dry spell of fossils. Until wednesday, July 22, the "fossils gods" smiled upon me.

A day before the luckiest day of my life, Anita, Yvonne, Conor, and I went surface collecting on our new property. As we were searching, Anita told us how Joe Brown, a volunteer, was walking along the shale and randomly found a shark tooth! Shark backbones are very rare to find, let alone a shark tooth! However, Joe Brown is one lucky guy, he's the same guy that found Betsy and Monty! He makes it look so effortless too. With that story in mind, we were all determined to find our very own tooth.

As I was walking along the shale, thinking "where would Joe Brown look?", I hear Anita yell "I FOUND A FOOOSSSILLL!!". We all quickly ran to see what she found. Sure enough she found a tooth! It was a mosasaur tooth, with a high degree of preservation. But it was not just any other mosasaur tooth, it was a pteragoid tooth. Pteragoid teeth are teeth that run along the roof of a mosasaurs mouth. Man, Anita sure has talent! But was this the end of my luck? Would I ever find my own tooth too?

The next day July 22, Evan, Stephanie, Daesha, and I went back to the dig site to look for more fossils. More determined than ever, I said to Stephanie before we started to look, "I am going to find me a shark tooth!". So we began. First ten minutes, nothing. We walked, and walked. Then, something caught my eye. It was small, had a pointed end, and looked like a tooth! I called, "EVVANNN". He came running over and YES it was a tooth! I was so elated! Then, 2 minutes later I found a small SHARK backbone. About 30 seconds after that one, I found another tooth. But this time, the tooth was a SHARK TOOTH!! Finally, my very first shark tooth! In the end, I found 4 teeth and a shark backbone within ten minutes! That was the most luck I ever had in my entire life! I felt so lucky, I actually bought a lottery ticket that day. I am going to keep my fingers crossed!

Also, this week we were lucky enough to receive a giant t-rex from the Elm Creek School. His name is Rexy. So hopefully Rexy will bring some more luck to our museum!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Monsters of the Deep RULES!

This week I finally got a chance to check out the monsters of the deep exhibit at the forks. As I walked into the exhibit, I was completely stunned to see a gigantic Elasmosaur with its neck wrapped around the entire room. Its head was literally 1 foot away from my face. For a split second I thought I was in Jurassic park! That wasn't the only cool thing there...

Next to the Elasmosaur was a 15ft long Xiphactinus, with its mouth wide open. It's really neat because you can look at every angle of the fish.

My favorite part is the death scene! Along the wall, the CFDC worked really hard in creating a display, showing a group of sharks viscously attacking a Mosasaur. What made it really cool was fossils along the floor, making it look like the sharks had tasty mosasaur meal for supper. One rib piece actually had a shark tooth stuck in it. I can't wait until the display goes into our museum!

The second room was devoted to sharks and fossils. It was really interesting reading all the text about sharks and watching the mosasaur DVD. It looked the kids really enjoyed the room too, playing with our microscope and constructing a stegosaurus.

So next time your at the forks, drop your fried mars bars, and check out the exhibit!!


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Dinosaurs are on the Loose!

Dinosaurs are on the loose in Elm Creek School! On Monday June 11 2007, many eyewitnesses including Evan Nordquist from the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre, saw a large group of dinosaurs from Lisa Salazar’s K-1 class.
They all gathered together and sang dinosaur songs.

Later they all stampeded into a nearby classroom, which had been converted into the “Elm Creek Discovery Centre” to view various dinosaur sculptures that the class had made.
One of the displays came from the CFDC to show aspiring little paleontologists some real fossils from the creatures that lived in Manitoba during the time of the dinosaurs.

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Latest Buzz

With Dino Day Camps, Paleo Tours, and 2 Day Excursions all starting this week, we've been busy bees. Maybe that’s why our fossil crew t-shirts are yellow and black? However, its has been a great start to our summer programs, so let me fill you in on all the "buzz"!

We had our first dino day camp participant. I sat there envious as they played gastrolith monster, herbivore and carnivore food quest, and my favorite, pirates of the cretaceous. Since this student had so much fun, he decided to join the paleo pop-in that same day. Days like this makes me wish I was a 1st grader again, so I can make my very own gastrolith shaker.

Also, this week we had our first two paleo tours. Although it was scorching out, it didn’t stop the participants to find really awesome fossils. One group worked on a potential specimen that was found last week, while the other group found surface fragments. On one of the paleo tours, I was elated to find my first Mosasaur tooth. Now all I need to find is a Plesiosaur with an ammonite in its belly.

Evan has been busy too, conducting 2 day excursions. There are two of them this week. So Evan and his group will have their hands full with field jacketing, working on specimens, and adding new fossils to our collection

If this week reflects what the summer has in store, then its going be one exciting summer!