Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fossil of the week: 4/28/09

Back to the exciting marine reptiles! This week is "Ono", a very large but headles Platecarpus ictericus that was recovered in 2006. Surprisingly, Ono is not named in honor of the wife of a former Beatle. Here's the story:

Our field crew had just left an area called "The Forbidden zone" because our owner, Mike Triebold, had decided we had found too many specimens in that small spot. This sometimes happens in the Niobrara. We instead headed to the nearest outcrops, about 200 yards to the east. While still 25 yards away, Mike tossed his pick to the ground and exclaimed "Oh no, not another mosasaur!" As we approached closer we could see the sides of 6-8 dorsal vertebrae exposed on the outcrop surface. Back in the lab we prepared the specimen and remarked at the articulated ribs, as well as probable cartilage in between the ischia (pelvic bones).

Ono is a very strange case, as headless articulated torsos are nearly unheard of in the chalk. This mystery made us do some "digging" ont he internet, and we discovered that we were working not far from Cope's 1871 expedition camp site. There is a possibility that the missing skull may have been collected 130 years prior!

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