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Discovering Dinosaurs

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Excavation Journal

June 19, 2001: Happy Trails

By Dr. David Gillette

We are finished with the field work on the hadrosaur skeleton, just as we were beginning to get conditioned to the one-mile hikes! You have already heard from Art about the final day of excavation and our hauling away the blocks. The next day, June 13th, we returned to the site to fill in the hole and smooth out the contours to make it look as natural as we could.

The drive home with the overloaded trailer took about an hour longer than usual for the 140 mile trip from Big Water to Flagstaff. The tires proved to be the perfect cushion for the blocks, which arrived undamaged and in good condition.

Now we have to move them from the trailer to the lab, and begin the long process of laboratory preparation. That work will be conducted by Niko Herzog, our new preparator who began today. By the time of the broadcast production in October, we should have most of the bones at least partially prepared and laid out like they were in the field. The hardest part of the preparation will be exposing the skin impressions and keeping the ossified tendons in their original positions.

What's Next? Soon we begin our next phase of field activity in the monument: excavation of a ceratopsian skeleton (a relative of Triceratops, so far unidentified to genus) in a very remote and difficult place to reach, and then exploration in the Kaiparowits Plateau for more fossil sites. Daily temperatures are now close to 100 degrees. That work will continue until sometime in September. Occasionally we will return to Flagstaff for rest, recreation, and paperwork, but Big Water will be our second home until fall. This work is difficult sometimes, but we enjoy the challenges. On the hadrosaur project, we also very much enjoyed working with the BLM crew on documentation and writing this journal.

Thanks for reading our observations so far. We'll see you in October! .


 
Last updated: 10-23-2009