In the summer of 2006, I taught my regular Fossils to Feathers summer camp where we dig up local fossils from the Ordovician and then talk about birds and how birds are related to life that existed earlier. It is basically a class about evolution. Fellow Warner naturalist Bekah Dalen brought in some fossils to show me over the summer. She said she got them on a dinosaur dig while working at the Children's Museum. Hmm, we thought, why don't we lead a dinosaur dig though work?
Here were the two selling points.
1. Digging up dinosaurs
2. Getting paid to do it
Need I say more?
We offered the summer camp in the summer of 2007 and we took seven 6-8th grade kids on a 10 hour van ride to the far nether regions of North Dakota to root around in the famous Hell Creek Formation. (Okay, famous to other geeks, geologists and paleo-types.)
We worked with Marmarth Research Foundation and the week was tons of fun. Fossil wise we found many pieces of trionychid turtles and parts of other species of turtles. We found champsosaur bones, a hadrosaur femur, a triceratops femur, a triceratops tooth, dromeosaur teeth, fossil trees, crocodile teeth, freshwater ray teeth, triceratops frill and more. The pictures tell a good story so let's start there.
We set out on Sunday for the 10 hour ride to Marmarth, ND. The highlight of the trip was of course stopping to gawk at Salem Sue the world's largest holstein cow statue in New Salem, ND. That's six tons of reinforced fiberglass in the shape of a cow up there on that butte. She's actually the world's largest fiberglass animal. Okay so the picture is awful. Follow the link for up close giant cow bliss. This is largest cow I've ever seen. It is much larger than Chatty Belle.
Monday afternoon we headed out to another area to work on a site rich in turtles. It is apparently one of the richest turtle sites in the world. We didn't see any. Such is this line of work. I used an exacto knife to slowly carve out a one foot square area. In an hour our so I went down about four inches. This is the very unglamourous part of field work i.e. carefully looking for nothing. The area I worked in was where they had just removed six complete turtles so it was important to keep searching. It was too bad we didn't uncover anything but that's part of the job too.
Dinner Monday was meatloaf hotdish. We ate LOTS of hotdish (that would be casserole to you non-midwesterners) When I say meatloaf I mean many many pounds of ground beef tossed into a pan, covered in ketchup and baked. I think there may have been a can of "cream of something" soup mixed in. Welcome to flavor country. Why didn't I take any pictures of the food?
That's it for the first installment. Return tomorrow for Part 2.