Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Last post before I'm out the door: World record Platecarpus

Jaws and skull bits in field jacket
It's holiday time again, which also means it's the last big push to get stuff finished before the Tuscon gem and mineral show. One of my last minute projects is reconstructing the largest Platecarpus planifrons skull ever discovered from the Niobrara. This critter, from Gove Co., Kansas, measures in with a skull a whopping 65cm (26 inches) long! Usually Platecarpus of any flavor from the Niobrara is hard pressed to break 50cm (20 inches).  Mike Triebold discovered this specimen in May of 2010, and it was about time to do something with it.

Some parts restored (partially)
This monster wasn't the top of the food chain though, the frontal has the tips of 2 shark teeth (most likely Cretoxyrhina) embedded in it, along with many scratches and gouges in the bone from scavenging.

Taking a ride on the Mosa-tissarie
Unfortunately, all that was recovered was the skull, though with lots of bone and not much meat, this is usually the most common parts of what remains of mosasaurs from the Niobrara. The bodies, especially the flippers and tail, tended to get chewed up first. The skull was partially eroded out and scattered, however there was more than enough present to make a good reconstruction of this animal. Hopefully sometime around the new year I'll be finished, and back on to preparing Thescelosaurus bits. Fingers crossed.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Show Thescelosaurus some love

When is a dinosaur not a dinosaur? When it's fairly dull I guess. Just look at Thescelosaurus. Not brainy, not much in the way of fangs, claws, armor, clubs, or anything else sexy. It's also a fairly rare dinosaur, with just a handful of reasonably complete specimens. We at the RMDRC have been lucky, preparing the only complete skull so far (on "Bert"), as well as now preparing a pretty dang complete skeleton, "Jonathan".

Right leg from the former display
Jonathan was discovered in 2006 in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana. It was nearly complete, minus the tip of the tail and the head/neck where it had eroded out into the gully. Lying belly-up, once show prepped, it nearly looked like it died just yesterday.

Main jacket

Look at that cute little first chevron
We have now started to prepare all of the bones free of the matrix. We will restore them, mold them, reconstruct the missing bits, and offer a cast of this big Thescelosaurus (13-14 feet or 4m long) for sale to institutions. The original will be mounted in 3d on a steel armature. That last bit is a LOT of work, but it's also pretty satisfying and a bit of fun too, especially if you enjoy doing metal work!