Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Last of Leroy for the year

OK, embedding of this Xiphactinus is done, assembly is done, now all that is ahead of us are hours upon hours of detailing. That and figuring out exactly how it's getting upright. That will be an interesting day... I don't think I want to take video of that.

On the bright side not only is the project almost done, but to preserve our sanity Jacob and I have been able to devote one hour at the end of each day to preparing other stuff. Special treat for follower Saurian, Jacob has been preparing a cervical vertebra from our BCT specimen of Daspletosaurus n. sp., out of the lower Judith River Fm. I on the other hand have a special secret non-dinosaur project, that I hope I'll be able to reveal in the first quarter of the new year. It's very exciting, trust me!

Below is a new photo of the progress made in the past week. Exciting, no?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Leroy part 2

Well, assembly is pretty much finished! Leroy is embedded and now all that lies ahead are weeks and weeks of detail work. And of course the whole how the heck are we going to get that slab upright. It's ok, I have a plan, sort of. If it doesn't work you will all know about it in a few weeks. The mount right now weighs in at about 1200 pounds. Jacob is pointing to the specimen for scale. It's hard to get it all in one shot, with the overall size of 16'x7'. We need to start finding smaller fish.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The construction of Leroy

As some of you may know, we are currently working on the construction of a plaque mounted Xiphactinus, nicknamed "Leroy", that was collected in the mid 1990s. "Leroy" is a big Xiphactinus at 15 feet, however not quite as large as "Mildred", the 18 foot long monster that we collected in the summer of 2008.

Making a plaque mount is a very time and labor intensive process, espescially when the bones are jumbled when in the ground. Each individual element must be removed and prepared, and of course prepared on the correct side. The right side of the skull was the best and prepared side, which drove our decision to have the right side of the entire fish displayed.
I'll post photos of or progress as we move forward. This is what the project looked like nearly a month ago when the major preparation was finished, and we decided to start laying out the fossil bones. Curator doing the classic TPI field pose (pointing "There it is") for scale. The size of the project is deceiving, the black rectangle is a 16 by 5 foot area of steel and 3/4" plywood. The chicken wire mesh is for strength of the material used to embed the bones. You can probably see that there are literally hundreds of individual bones (spines, fins and ribs)missing. The simple reason is that in this early stage, we don't want too much stuff floating around. You will see these elements get put in later stages of the process.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


We were filmed for a Voice of America feature a while back, and now it is online. Judging by the length of my hair I'd assume it was during field season.