Let the Digging Commence

Monday burst forth with glorious warmth and great potential. It was a wonderful and welcome change from the gloomy rain of last week. This weather enabled us to make the best of our tours and Monday afternoon we managed to head out with our first dig tour to one of our dig sites.

All of the students learned very quickly and they got down to work right away. The warmth of the day made the shale flaky and ready to be brushed aside; which the kids did eagerly! It was a productive day and many of our students found some great fossils. Most were smaller shards that were hard to identify, but it was still exciting to find something that was part of a world from so long ago. One young man in Grade 2 found a mosasaur jaw fragment that still had two of its teeth. It was a great discovery and ended the day triumphantly. 

Mosasaur Jaw
Tuesday was also sunny with temperatures around 24 degrees Celsius. You couldn’t have kept us out of the sun if you had wanted to! Selenite was in abundance and glistened like a sea of diamonds. They aren’t called diamonds for nothing! No…before you ask, sadly, they aren’t real diamonds and they are worth nothing. They are fun to find, however! This was also the day of a large school group dig tour. We drove to our dig site after lunch and brought along as many brushes, shovels and rakes as we could find. Almost immediately students started finding pieces of fossil; a weathered fish vertebra (back bone) here and a possible mosasaur vertebra there. Some of the fossils were poorly preserved and crumbled on contact, but it didn’t dim the joy of discovering the piece! The students were busy the entire time, digging large sites and excavating them thoroughly.

Matt, not pleased with all the bugs

After the tour the fossil crew travelled over to an exposed outcrop that looked interesting. We immediately started to dig a trench to develop a good cross section of the exposed layers. Once again we were out searching for the ever elusive Gammon Ferruginous (rock unit), but, alas, that day we did not find it. We did, however, discover the Boyne (rock unit) as Matt was digging through what should be called the “Grub” member. (As you can tell from the picture, he wasn’t too happy about all the grub!) Anita and I were on top of the outcrop raking through layers and layers of compacted Pembina bentinite so we knew that the Gammon had to be somewhere in between. We shall definitely discover it one of these days!

Wednesday was Lisa’s dig tour. The students were excited to collect selenite and jarosite (a yellow, chalky, mineral) and everyone dug away happily. Meanwhile, elsewhere, Joey discovered the tooth of a Squalicorax, the “Crow Shark” of the Cretaceous.

The Fossil Crew busily excavating

Thursday Matt led another dig tour and one of the students discovered a fish vertebra that was almost nearly complete! According to Matt, it appeared to be from Cimolichthys, an extinct predatory salmonid fish.

Friday was an indoor museum tour with a very large group. We managed to work our system timing perfectly and it was a blast playing Dinosaur tag with the kids! This week was a great success and very exciting!