Digging Dinosaurs: Australian Style (Part 3)

Day 2 on the dig site – The fossils we collected from the surface are under the tent and some of the diggers are washing and sorting them.  Most of us are out on the dig site looking for more fossils just below the surface layer.

Smoko time comes none too soon given the back straining nature of the work.  I was impressed that some people had the patience and perseverance to dig and sift through the dirt all day. 

Others – like me — tired of the job by late morning and joined the group washing and sorting.

Then the fun began — trying to find fragments that fit together.  It’s clearly the job of those who like jigsaw puzzles – especially puzzles were pieces are missing, the number of puzzle pieces is unknown and there is no photo to help identify where pieces go — and there may be more than one puzzle.

By day’s end, we found a number of pieces that go together – the most dramatic being three fragments that make a complete toe bone of a sauropod  (long-necked dinosaurs like Apatosaurus).

After lunch it was time to bring up the big equipment. The front loader cleared off the top two meters of a 10 meter by 30 meter rectangle.  Some of us were sent over to sift through the mound of black soil to search for more fossil fragments. 

Others watched the front loader in anticipation of it getting down to the light sandstone where major fossil skeletons were found in other digs.  By afternoon Smoko, we reach the sandstone — just sandstone with no sign of fossils.

It was time to figure out what to do next . . .

. . . which was to uncover the adjacent 10 meter by 30 meters of black soil.

By day’s end, the front loader uncovered the first promising object. 

It could be the edge of a dinosaur bone, but careful uncovering of the fossil with pick and brush needed to wait until the next day.

Back we went to the shearer’s quarters for showers and clean clothes.  Most of us to watch the sunset while enjoying drinks and stories outside the shearer’s quarters.  For a few it was time for some solitude while watching the sunset.

Finally it was time for chow and another rounds of drinks.

Day 3 on the dig site – We went back in great anticipation of uncovering a dinosaur.  By lunchtime, we knew that we discovered a partially mineralized piece of wood!

I thought everyone would be demoralized, but most were philosophical about the discovery and realized this was the nature of scientific exploration in any field – plus there were still plenty of fossil fragments to clean and try to piece together.

Some of us took the opportunity to explore pieces of petrified wood in a nearby paddock.  We may not have the opportunity to find and assemble a dinosaur, but we got a good start on piecing together a tree millions of years old.

Graeme and I had to leave after day 3.  The plan for day 4 was to uncover the third 10 meter by 30 meter rectangle. We still have not heard if additional dinosaur bones were found.  Whether there were more discoveries or not, the dinosaur diggers definitely thought they got their monies worth.

 

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2 Responses to Digging Dinosaurs: Australian Style (Part 3)

  1. Leslie Herrenkohl says:

    Dennis,

    Your blog is terrific! I am really enjoying the photos and the stories. I’m so glad that you decided to keep us all informed. I’ll look forward to seeing you soon at ASTC.

    Sending my best,

    Leslie

  2. Joanne Johnson says:

    Great to read about your adventures. Looks like a children’s book in the making to me. 🙂

    joanne

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