Monday, July 05, 2010

Major Excavation and Major Exhibitions!

Hatcher enjoying the summer heat at the Xiphactinus Killzone.
           Despite the torrential rain fall, the CFDC still had a very SUCCESSFUL week. Katie Magotiaux and myself worked on our upcoming "Fish of the Cretaceous" exhibit. Recently, due to construction, our previous fish exhibit had to be removed because of the fossils sensitivity to the constant vibration of jack hammers. But no fear! The new exhibit is going to be fish-tastic! Currently we are working on molding a Pachyrhizodus caninus, a large carnivorous fish, but smaller than the Xiphactinus. The molding process involves layers upon layers of latex rubber painted on the fossil. After we "paint" the one side, we move on to the next. It is essential to leave a spoat in the mold so we can pour plaster in it later to make the replica. In the end we'll have two individual sides that we can put together, pour plaster, let dry, and enjoy! All of our dangling creatures in the museum  are not real fossils. They are replicas of the real deal. The reasons are ample-- fossils are mineralization of a bone and therefore very heavy! Secondly-- we don't want to drill holes in fossils to build the specimen's 3D skeleton! Thirdly-- fossils are fragile and we must be extra careful with the real-deal! The Pachyrhizodus  should be complete very soon, drop in and say "hello"!
       Matt Duda and Andrea Hrenchuk are currently working on complete a glorious Terminonaris (crocodile) exhibit! The crocodile was excavated in Dauphin last summer. The CFDC did some research and prepped the specimen this winter and also did a few replicas of the fossils. Duda and Hrenchuk are currently working on information and making accurate looking replicas (including painting) of the replica fossils!
      Geology student Kathryn Lapenskie is working on a volcano exhibit! She plans on tying in recent volcanic eruptions and prehistoric volcanic eruptions in the information she will be presenting. Right now, she is having a lot of fun making an accurate model of the Mayon Volcano, a perfect cone-shaped stratovolcano in the province of Albay, in the Bicol Region, on the island of Luzon. She had hoped the CFDC might fund her to go on an excursion to the island, but the funds were a no-go.
Fish jaw and mosasaur rib.
     Besides all our exciting upcoming exhibits we are working on, this week we called in the back hoe to dig up the top overburden of a ditch. Joesph Hatcher and Reid Graham found a Xiphactinus jaw bone protruding out from the side of ditch, as well as a mossaur vertabra at the very end of our 2009 field season last year! Hatcher believes that this will be a very prosperous zone for fossils. And already we found another fish jaw bone (possibly Xiphactinus or Pachyrhizodus?), and here's the neat part-- fossilized to it was a rib! We still have to dig more over-burden off the top to get to the layer where the Xiphactinus jaw was found, but the fossil crew is looking more than forward to a summer of hard work!
-Jaclyn Kozak

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