Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I Love the Gammon Ferruginous!

        It was an emotional day saying goodbye to all the glorious finds found this year-- the Xiphactinus from the Xiphactinus Killzone, Matt's Xiphactinus jaws from the embankment, Katie and Kathryn's mosasaur, my little fish verts and teeth, and of course, to Andrea's dead coyote and horse. CFDC Field Season is not quite over yet (you still have time to book dig tours!) but us university students are heading back to school. And we had a wonderful last week full of exciting finds and fun times.
        Thank-you to all the wonderful dig-tour groups we had booked for our final week. During the past week, my group found a poorly-preserved mosasaur vertebra (but it was still grandly large), one of Kathryn's groups expanded and found more vertebrae from the mosasaur skeleton, and Matt's group found more fossils from the mosasaur, Angus, who was our big find in 2008!
        Morden's big Corn & Apple Festival was this past weekend and the CFDC offered discounted dig tours to the public. One lucky family found a Hesperonis femur (thigh bone). And more skeletal elements from the mosasaur were also found! We also had a special visitor, Flora Marcelino, Manitoba's Minister of Culture, Heritage, and Tourism! Abigail Williams also visited us on the weekend, she was one of our paleostars who worked in the Death Assemblage in 2008.
        On our last day the whole fossil crew went out to the field for one last adventure. And the year's final "Perfect Score" winner was decided... congrats Matthew Duda! For getting the highest rating museum and dig tours this month!

We heart the Gammon Ferruginous (and sunscreen).
Being the last day I decided to reply to some frequently asked questions floating around:
  • We have more than just one dig-site, we have several we visit in a season.
  •  Bruce is the largest mosasaur in all of Canada, he's 43ft and found in 1974. 
  • Our recent find is a 15ft fish called Xiphactinus. We have its jaws on display, while the rest of his skeleton needs to be prepped from its fossil jacket. Come about this winter and we'll have more of it on display.
  •  Yes! We offer actual fossil digging to the public! However, you must be 10 years old to come out on our dig tours!
  • The creatures in our museum are not from Lake Agassiz. Lake Agassiz occurred only 10 000 years ago and was a fresh-water lake. Our creatures swam in the Western Interior Seaway, which was 8 000 000 years ago and was a salt-water sea! 
  •  Yes!!! You can take pictures!!!
-Jaclyn Kozak

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Summer Fun is All Done!

      The Summer Fun Day Camp wrapped up the program for the summer this past Tuesday with a great group for the last session, making fossil jewelry! It has been a crazy, fun, exciting summer for the day camp, having more participants than ever before! We had so much fun this summer, every day the kids were so full of energy and enthusiasm for the crafts and activities we had planned. We would like to give an extra-big-Bruce-sized-thank-you to all the participants and their parents for being a part of the Summer Fun Program, we hope you all had as much fun as we did! A special thank you to our regular participants, Adam, Jill, Emily, Will, Emma, Ben, Naomi, Sydney, Mayah, Agape, just to name some! These kids always came to camp with a big smile and a great attitude; our staff got to know them and always looked forward to them coming! We also had a number of out of towner participants, Kaylene, Teryn, William, Joey, Vivian, Max, and Brody, came for a few days of camp for the second year in a row all the way from the Lockport area! We were super happy to see this awesome group return, and had tons of fun doing activities with them! And remember, the museum is open all winter, so feel free to stop by and say hi to Bruce and his friends!

Hope everyone had a great summer, and enjoy the school year!

Sacha Debreuil

Youth Program Coordinator

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Teeth, Scales, and Cookies!

        It's been another fishy week at the CFDC. The new Fish of the Cretaceous exhibit is open! Featuring a 6ft Pachyrhizodus fish. The exhibit also showcases other 80 million-year old fish such as-- the Xiphactinus, Cimolichthys, Enchodus, and Petanogmius!
         Antoine, our five-day-fossil dig tour participant from Quebec, found an Enchodus tooth on Monday. Enchodus had fang-like teeth-- perfect for sinking into prey! Also on the same day, we found two mosasaur ribs. All this came out of our Xiphactinus Killzone site. This is the site the media has been paying attention to lately, and obviously there is still much work to be done!

        That night, the Museum was alive... with excitement! Kati Slater-Szirom and Keiichi Aotsuka are research students working at the CFDC until September 15th. They did a presentation for board members, staff, and other Morden dignitaries on what they planned to achieve here. Slater is working on her undergrad thesis and doing research on the geology of the Xiphactinus Killzone. Aotsuka is doing research the the various taxa of cretaceous birds found in our collection. Coffee and cookies were enjoyed by all, Joesph Hatcher was over-joyed to bring leftovers home!
        The next day, we were at the Xiphactinus Killzone again! Ted Nelson is our heavy-over-burden extraordinaire! He removed much over-burden whilst others were working on the micro-fossil layer. Some fish vertebrae and other fragments were found that day, but the big accomplishment was Ted Nelson.
Nelson was back at it again the next day, and with the help of Matt Duda and Steve Striemer they removed a whole wall of dirt to help expose new fossils! By the end of the day we were able to complete some field jackets and bring them back to the museum.
Xiphactinus (an extinct fish) jaws.
        At another site, the same day, Antoine, Kathryn Lapenskie, Lisa Burnett and myself were finding some very large lateral fish scales! Fish scales are often found in the Pembina Member shale. They are typically a dark brown/red colour and appear glossy next to the matte shale.
        Antoine had another prosperous day on Thursday. He aided in finding several vertebra (most of them fish), a couple of teeth, and other fossil fragments. Lapenskie galumphed down into the Boyne member and discovered a possible cephalopod!
        We ended the week on a high note. Andrea Hrenchuk plucked a mosasaur tooth and other fossils out of the Xiphactinus Killzone. Antoine worked on uncovering many fossil frags (including some fish vertebrae) in a square meter area. Hatcher discovered two new outcrops of the mineral, bentonite, which he is actively doing research on. And for myself, I finished another blog post. Hurrah!
-Jaclyn Kozak

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Knock knock!

        What a whirl-wind week! Monday, the CFDC had very special visitors-- the Daily Planet from the Discovery Channel came and checked out the Xiphactinus Killzone! Jim Bamburak from Manitoba Geological Survey, Mayor Wilson (Morden), and Mayor Harder (Winkler),  joined us as well. Even with all these visitors on site, we were still able to find some incredible fossils! A few fish vertabra were uncovered, rib fragments, and a Hesperonis vertabra! The Hesperonis was a sharp-toothed, flightless, average 1.5 m (4-5 ft) tall bird that swam in the Cretaceous sea eighty million years ago.
        A very important visitor arrived during the week. Kati (pronounced Cod-ee) Slater-Szirom is from Washington State. She is doing her undergrad research with us and is very excited to be back at CFDC. She joined us last year on our 5-Day Fossil Excursion and fell in love with the Pembina Valley (and the fossils!). Her plan is to major in geology and then become a paleontologist. Along with the other geology student at the CFDC, Kathryn Lapenskie, they joined up with Bamburak and looked at various dig site’s stratigraphy and and took rock and mineral samples.
        We had a few more visitors including CBC, CTV, Winnipeg Free Press, Morden Times, and CJOB in the museum through-out the week. MP of Portage Lisgar, Candice Hoeppner even came down to the Xiphactinus Killzone! We ourselves played visitors to the Winnipeg Kids' Fringe Festival on Friday and Saturday. The volunteers were fantastic and we enjoyed showing the kids real fossils and talking to their parents about taking a trip to Morden. One of the local vendors was even nice enough to give us free snow cones!
        What a deliciously fossilicious week!
-Jaclyn Kozak

Kathryn's Contemplations on the Chaos

        Hi! My name is Kathryn Lapenskie and I am majoring in geology at the University of Manitoba. Here is what I have to say-- the last two weeks at the CFDC have been busy and exciting! On Monday July 12th a film crew from the Daily Planet show on the Discovery Channel came out to take some footage of our "Xiphactinus Killzone." They spoke to the paleontologists from the museum about the fossils and were able to interview Jim Bamburak from the Manitoba Geological Survey who talked about the geological significance of this site. It was very exciting and fun to have the film crew down and we will post in the future as to when we will be featured on Daily Planet.
        The rest of the week was spent in preparation for our official press release on the "Xiphactinus Killzone." Our field crew spent a lot of time at the site continuing to prep fossils and removing more overburden. Friday morning we sent out information to newspapers and news stations in Winnipeg about our big dig site and we had a huge rush of camera crews and journalists out to the site that day to interview our field crew and get some footage of the fossils.
        We also had an exciting Monday-Tuesday July 19 and 20 when Jim Bamburak came out to the museum again to go on a “geology field trip” around some of our sites on the Manitoba Escarpment. Jim is very interested in researching the Gammon Ferruginous Member of the Pierre Shale Formation and was exploring many of our sites to find this elusive unit of rock. Jim has confirmed the Gammon Member at several of our sites including the "Xiphactinus Killzone." We also spent some time exploring the Boyne Member of the Carlile Formation and found a well preserved shark tooth and found multiple thin beds of coquina, a sedimentary rock composed almost entirely of shells and a small amount of cement. We did a lot of rock climbing and collected a lot of samples for our collection.
        Also! I've continued to find more mosasaur from a skeleton we've been excavating since the beginning of June. AND! Because this skeleton is so significant (and it keeps getting bigger) we get to name it! If you have an idea, comment on this blog and your name could be picked and credited!
-Kathryn Lapenskie