Friday, August 29, 2008

Reid's Blog

But without a doubt, my best memory of the summer will be the finding of Angus. I woke up that morning and thought one thing. I'm going to find a Mosasaur today. I had no idea that I was right. Positive thinking I guess. The group was a pleasant family from Winnipeg, the LaChance family. Very interested and more than excited at the idea of getting to find fossils. We headed up to the museum property for the afternoon. there was one quarry that I was dying to dig at because no one else had dug there before. it was a new quarry that a backhoe had dug up a year earlier. We passed by it hundreds of times but that day I was determined to find something. It was really hot, we plunked down in the shade, hoping to find the discovery of the decade in the comfort of the shade. Of course that would be too easy. The family started out digging around the quarry, and I started surface collecting, just walking around trying to see what I could on the surface. It didn't take long for me to spot a small fossil sticking out of the side of a small rise in the shale. I grabbed the one woman, Chantel Gibson, and ask her if she would like to work on a fossil. About 10 minutes later we had the first find of Angus. It was what I thought would be a quadrate bone. Once the first fossil was found, everyone wanted in on the action. I did a little digging but mostly I supervised, making sure that they didn't damage any of the fossils they found. As soon as the LaChance family started digging, fossils appeared everywhere. at first it was just fragments, but then when Doris LaChance found the first teeth, then I realized the scope of the find. It was a beautiful jaw with two intact teeth. And they were huge. I knew right away that it was a huge find. I even did a little prospector dance in celebration. They kept finding so much fossil material that I couldn't keep up. I was everywhere making sure that the fossils weren't damaged by careless hands. But this family was the best excavators I’ve seen. Their patience, steady hands, and enthusiasm! Before the day was done they had excavated over 23 different fossils, from teeth to back bones to ribs. And we had a name. Chantel and her husband Scott live in Scotland. So a good Scottish name seemed appropriate. Jokingly I suggested Angus. And it stuck. I wish I could have named it Charlie or Ishmael. But it was Chantel's discovery. So Angus it was.

But everyone was overflowing with excitement. At the time I had no idea the how far the find would go. But 5 o'clock rolled around and we had to return to the museum. As hard as it was to leave Angus, I knew that I would be back as soon as I could. Over the next month we continued to expand the site, with just our field crew, and also other tours. The one day I kept finding tooth after tooth. It was so awesome. Once Joey and Anita, our paleontologists, identified the size and type of Mosasaur, Dave, our director, sent out a press release. The same afternoon, CTV and the Free Press arrived to film it and write about it. I barely had time to tell my family. Before I knew I was on the front page and on the national and local news. My friends are all calling me to congratulate me. It still blows my mind. Largest fossil find in thirty years, second largest Mosasaur in Canada. I never thought any of this while we worked on it. It was just a cool find. Nothing big. And now everyone credits me with the discovery. So I want to set the record straight right now. It was the LaChance family, not me that made the find. They found it and named it. I was just the staff member lucky enough to be there. It is funny though. Their family name means "the luck" And we are all very lucky to find such a big find.

August 6, 2008
Today we had a special DIno Day Camp. A radio reporter CKMW broadcasted our afternoon. We had a excited group of kids ready to play. We started off with a Museum tour. All the children had many comments about everything on display. With our imaginations we turned into pirates of the late Cretaceous and explored the Western Interior Seaway. Our adventure lead us to Pterosaur nests, Stegasaurs, and even the evil Tiki Buhler Naka-naka. Our brave pirates found the clues which led to the lost treasure, their own flying Pterosaur. An excited bunch of kids crowded around the radio microphone and screamed with joy, all trying to get a turn for their own individual fame. Next the children made their very own Allosaurus tooth necklace with exotic beads. They all looked mystically beautiful. Then the kids grabbed a brush and headed for the dig box, each finding dinosaur bones hidden beneath the sand. After the dig they wound down by going back in time with the Magic School Bus. Today was a wonderful adventure for all.

Jolene Kozak

August 25th 2008
Today was the last day of summer kids programs for the year. We had a full class registered for Volcano Making and were looking forward to it, as the kids always have a great time with this program. We had a bit of a rush to get ready as some of the children showed up 20 minutes early, but it didn't take us long to get everything together. The kids played with the puzzles and dinosaur toys as we waited for everyone to arrive. All but one of the children had already been to several programs over the summer, and it was nice to see some of our favorites on the last day. Once everyone had arrived we had the children put on their smocks and explained to them how we were going to make the volcano. We let them mix their own plaster and let them know when it was the right consistancy to start putting it onto the top of a pop bottle with a small plastic glass glued inside of it. Once everyone was done molding their volcanos, we cleaned our hands and I led a tour of the museum while Jolene cleaned away the extra plaster and set out the painting supplies. The kids had all been to the museum before and so knew almost everything I had to tell them on the tour. They answered all the hard questions and even remembered the name Hesperornis. After visiting Bruce, we came back to the room, and the children put their smocks back on to begin painting. We had our most colorful bunch of volcanoes yet, with all the colors of the rainbow. While the paint dried the kids learnt some facts about volcanoes, and had a bit of time to play. When it was almost time to go, they gathered back together at the tables with their volcanoes and prepared for the grand finale. Jolene had already poured some baking soda into the tops of the volcanoes, and I passed out little cups of vinegar with red food coloring in it. On the count of three, everyone poured in the vinegar and watched as the volcanoes erupted. The kids loved it so much, we did it three more times before it was time to go. Everyone seemed to have had a lot of fun and it was a great end to a summer full of adventures.

Tiffany Tilley

Duda's Blog

A fact that is likely unknown to many in this area is that there are actually three different kinds of shale in this area, two of which we find fossils in. The CFDC digs in a formation of shale known as the Pierre Shale Formation. The Pierre Shale Formation is made up of three members; or layers perhaps. Above: Death Assembly
These three layers, going from the top to the bottom are known as the Odanah Member, the Millwood Member, and the Pembina Member.

Most of the fossils in the CFDC have been extracted from the Pembina Member of the Pierre Shale Formation. These fossils are usually pinky-white in color and are very crumbly. Three exciting finds that have occurred in the Pembina Member this field season!

First off, Heather Nelson, a fellow field tchnician of the CFDC stumbled across the fossils of a plesiosaur who she named "Ianto." Heather's discovery yielded at least ten vertebrae and a limb bone, not to mention a couple fish vertebrae thrown into the mix.

Secondly, board member Joe Brown came across what is known as a death assembly. The death assembly contained fossils from mosasaurs, fish, sharks, and birds, and was the first multi-species death assembly found in this area. This area was first dug in by school groups, who uncovered small sections of this find. So far over 150 fossils have been excavated and evtracted from the site, with many still waiting to be found!

Finally, as the field season was closing down, Reid Graham led a tour ground up to the CFDC property on a dig tour. They ended up discovering "Angus," the second largest mosasaur in Manitoba. This was a huge find and the media lapped it up. The find is still being worked on and will continue to be worked on next field season.

The CFDC has also discovered fossils in the Millwood Member. These fossils are very different from the fossils found in the Pembina Member. Fossils found here are very dark in color, in some cases jet black. They are smooth, and are often in very nice condition. Millwood shale is a lot more more solid than shale from the Pembina member, which makes the excavation of fossils extremely difficult. That is why most of these fossils have been collected right from the surface.

Several beautiful fossils have been found in the Millwood Member. So far two Hesperornis vertebrae, two mosasaur vertebrae, mosasaur jaw fragments, squid pen fragments, a plesiosaur vertebra, and several fish vertebra have been found and brought back to the museum. These finds are all jet black and extremely smooth, and were all found above ground lying on the surface.

I would like to continue searching in the Millwood Member, as the fossils are in great condition, and the area is practically "untapped."


The other day myself, Reid, Matt and Joey took a school group out to Mt. Nebo for an afternoon of field work. I decided to get up and stretch my legs. Walking around I noticed a vertebra poking out of the shale. I got out my brush, started brushing away the top layer of shale and uncovered three more vertebrae! I called over my coworkers and we continued to brush the shale away. A few minutes later we’d uncovered five nicely preserved plesiosaur vertebrae. Then came the really hard part, I had to give it a name! After much deliberation I finally settled on Ianto (pronounced: YAN-toe).

Since then we’ve been back to the site many times, and more fossils are still being found. Later on in the field season we’re planning on bringing Ianto back to the museum and it will be examined during the winter season.