Friday, June 26, 2009

Introducing "Bev"

We have a new addition to the RMDRC mosasaur family: a Platecarpus ictericus from the upper Niobrara Chalk of Logan County, KS. I discovered this one on June 17th, but we didn't return to excavate till the 19th.

It appears to be a complete skull and cervical series, with a number of articulated dorsal vertebrae and ribs. The skull is scattered, but preserves not only all of the bones, but also calcified cartilage. This specimen is a great candidate for further preparation and 3d
mounting. Judging by the size of the lower jaws (18 inches) the complete animal would probably be 18 feet long. Unfortunately, scavenging sharks (probably Squalicorax kaupi, however a Cretoxyrhina mantelli tooth was also found on the same outcrop, rare in the upper chalk) forcibly removed the front limbs from Bev before she hit the bottom of the Western Interior Seaway 83 million years ago.

You may notice that we give nicknames to the specimens, and there is a great reason why. This mosasaur was discovered about 30 feet away from (and 15 minutes after) another Platecarpus specimen on the same outcrop. Instead of referring to them a "you know, the first mosasaur that Jacob found that week", we name them to keep them straight, both in the field and the lab.

The person that discovers the specimen gets the naming rights. In this case Bev is named after my mother. It's a great way of discovering which relatives like you best.

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