Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Basilemys reconstruction

In 2007, a friend of Dr. Kraig Derstler accompanied TPI crews doing field recon in the Judith River Formation of central Montana. In one gully he discovered some very large turtle shell parts coming out, and we traced them to their source. Though obviously belonging to the "emperor turtle" Basilemys, this turtle looks as if it had swallowed a hand grenade, where all parts were disarticulated and spread through the outcrop.

Excavation was conducted in 2007 and 2008 (and even a bit in 2009), and about 50% of the animal was recovered. Since the specimen, now nicknamed "Doug" after the discoverer, is disarticulated, this gives us a great opportunity to reconstruct the specimen in inflated form, as opposed to the crushed articulated specimens found until now.
This specimen is also remarkable because it preserves several non-shell skeletal elements, which is rare for this type. These include both pelvis assemblies, scapula, dorsal vertebra #1 and toes. An isolated Basilemys humerus found on a nearby ranch will also be used in the reconstruction. Stop on by the museum to see how the project is coming over the next few months!

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