Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Meet Tony II!

Well, field season started off with a bang this year. The little mosasaur snout I found in late April turned out to be a nearly complete specimen of Clidastes c.f. moorevillensis, which isn't really supposed to be in the chalk. The critter measures 4.8m long (16 feet), and is so well preserved that it retains cartilage in the ear, sternum, sternal ribs and above the scapulas.
Above, Mike Triebold uses a chainsaw with a special blade to separate the block away from the outcrop prior to jacketing. This chalk was the hardest we've ever encounterred in nearly 3 decades of collecting in the Niobrara.

The site as seen from the top of an adjacent bluff. Luckily we could drive up to the site to dropp off air compressors and generators!

Below is the prepared front half of the animal. 45cm (18 inches) of backbone was lost in the mid dorsal section due to erosion years ago. The tail section was taken out in another large jacket. Come see the specimen, now on display in our marine hall at the RMDRC!

Friday, May 14, 2010

RMDRC gets published!

A small project that I've been involved in for a few years, the discovery of the first heteromorph (open coiled) ammonite from the Niobrara Chalk.

Everhart, M.J. and Maltese, A. 2010. First report of a heteromorph ammonite, cf. Glyptoxoceras, from the Smoky Hill Chalk (Santonian) of western Kansas, and a brief review of Niobrara cephalopods. Kansas Academy of Science, Transactions 113:(1-2):64-70.

We discovered the specimen while excavating the "Tracie" Tylosaurus nepaeolicus specimen in June 2008. Triebold Paleontology Inc. donated the ammonite to the Sternberg Museum at Fort Hays State University in 2009 after it became clear this was a scientifically important critter.

Email me if you need a PDF copy of the paper.