Mosasaurs and Plesiosaur Oh my!

     Already the fossil crew has been incredibly busy, and we're barely hitting the good weather! School digs and museum tours are under-way, and in July and August are already starting to fill-up with family and group dig tours! Book now!
Darrel Jones shows off his findings.
     Darrel Jones was our first 2-day dig tour. He found a huge mosasaur vertebra (a backbone), a fish vertebra and multiple fossil fragments. We took him out to our "Xiphactinus Killzone" , where we're trying out different digging styles! Usually the only tool you need digging in the shale are paint-brushes. But at the "Xiphactinus Killzone" we have rakes, pick axes, shovels, and rock-hammers removing wheel barrows of dirt. Besides heavy over-burden removal (thank-you Darrel!), we're also getting our feet wet! Anita Janzic, Katie Magitoaux, Andrea Hrenchuk, and myself got in a pond and did some sifting for fossils and fossil fragments. We found a few small, interesting and unidentifiable pieces and micro fossils that we collected and took back to the museum. The amount of hard work put into the "Xiphactinus Killzone" has been rewarding! This week it produced some Hesperornis fossils, which are extinct birds that lived during the Cretaceous period and are very rare in our collection. Hatcher found his very first Styxosaurus! He found a Styxosaurus's vertebra. The Styxosaurus is the genus name for a type of long-neck plesiosaur. Lapenskie also found a beautifully preserved fish vertebra, micro-fossils, and fossil fragments.
Sifting for fossils!
     Lapenskie and Kaite Magotiaux also had a successful week with her school tours. Along with MacGregor students, Carman Grade 7's, and students from Hartney School, they helped uncover TWO vertebrae, one with the neural spine and chevrons still attached, and the other with the neural spine and excellent indication where the chevrons once were attached. They also uncovered a few fish vertebrae and other unidentifiable fossil fragments in situ-- meaning the fossils have not been disturbed for 80 million years! She left the fossils in the ground to be quarry mapped.
     Quarry mapping indicates where each fossil is found in relation to the other fossils. And by studying their placement we can come up with a hypothesis on why and how the fossil is there. Taphonomy is the study of what happens to an organism when it dies to recovery. It gives paleontologists and other scientists clues on where fossils could be located, and why they are there. Last year the CFDC did a study on the decomposition on two already dead bears.This year we are looking at a horse and coyote previously deceased to natural causes on our sites. There is much to look forward to this CFDC 2010 Field Season!
-Jaclyn Kozak