Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Fall fieldwork!

There's nothing quite like a nice October day in the Niobrara chalk. Lots of hiking, fresh air, and occasionally a few fossils.

Scrappy Cimolichthys verts in the outcrop
Though the puropse of this past 2 1/2 day trip was primarily for scouting, we did return with a few jackets of specimens, including a nice Ichthyodectes tail from the lower chalk and part of a giant Clidastes from the upper chalk. We'll be returning very soon to recover the rest of the Clidastes, as well as a new Nyctosaurus specimen I discovered on Friday (more on that later), and possibly the Pentanogmius I located, or one of the 3 xiphs I stumbled across. It's good to have so many choices.

Mike evaluating a Xiphactinus skull

Interesting thing about the Clidastes. The tail is chock-full of pathological vertebrae, from what looks to be an old infected bite wound. No clue yet as to whether the bite was from a shark or another mosasaur, however from all the intraspecific damage we see on other specimens, I wouldn't doubt it was the result of Clidastes-on-Clidastes violence.
Ouch! Most certainly a grumpy mosasaur