It is unusual for us to move so quickly from collection to preparation and mounting, but sometimes the stars align. We're currently working on mounting the largest skeleton of Xiphactinus audax
ever found, RMDRC 08-004 "Mildred". Unfortunately, the sharks got ahold of the carcass before it sank to the seafloor. They eviscerated it, and it is now missing most of its secondary fins, as well as chunks of ribs and spines. For a display specimen, this isn't really ideal, so we're using a few donor fish (ones that are way too incomplete for display on their own) for parts. These will be incorporated to complete the skeleton of the mounted fish, and their parts will be documented so not to make anyone think the composite skeleton is just a single animal.
|Initial site view at TPI takeover|
|Jackhammers are a backsaver|
Lois (RMDRC 11-021) was discovered early in 2011 by another fossil hunter that had mistakenly been scouting on property that was under contract with TPI. No big deal though, our crews came out to the site shortly afterwards and recovered the specimen.
|Later in the day, big big hole|
It was largely disarticulated and found with its caudal fin rays all around the skull region: the proverbial "head up it's butt" position that we frequently find fossil animals. The low rise over the fish was removed with a Bobcat and we set about finding the perimeter, or extent of the specimen.
|Mike with chainsaw, Jacob for scale (2 meters)|
Unfortunately the jackstrawed nature of the bones meant we'd have to remove the main part in a substantial field jacket. I don't like doing that, big jackets are heavy.
|Cleaning the undercut for jacketing|
Lois has somewhat flakier bone than usual for a fish, mainly because much of it was near the erosional edge, making preparation a bit slow and less than easy. The smaller jacket is nearly finished, as well as the individual parts we were able to remove on site. The large jacket may take a few more days to show prep, due to the bone condition. It will however be very useful in completing the original bone mount of Mildred, which will be started in the next week.
|Just a photo of learning marker units in the field|