Fossil Hunting

May 23, 2008

Tuesday night, I posted about the discovery of the dig site Marco. We saw and learned so much that there was too much to tell in just one post. However, finding Marco was just a small part of the day. Dr. Bakker, Mark, David and the rest of the paleo crew visited three other sites, too.

There are no roads where we were driving, so we had to follow car tracks or animal paths to get where we were going. We drove up hill, down hill, around curves, and often a long distance to find a way to cross a large hill or a narrow creek.

Traveling between different dig sites took a fair amount of time, regardless of how far apart they were. And once we reached the dig site, we had to unload all of our equipment, digging tools, water, sunscreen, food, cameras, etc, and then hike up or down a hill until we reached the fossil.

Then we would dig around for awhile, just to show what type of bones could be found at the site. We didn’t do any heavy digging, it was all just preliminary stuff to show the people from Houston what had been found so far.

After discovering the Marco site, the first site we went to was a microsite near where Leonardo was found in 2000.  This microsite contained many small bones, but was also full of raptor teeth and claws. We spent about an hour there; while we were up on the hill digging a herd of cows surrounded our cars. David Temple had a great time mooing at them and driving them away from our vehicles.


“Scatter!” David herds the cows away


When cows attack! The cows gather around our cars,
angry that we have brought no hay.

The next site we went to next was called Swan Point. The dig site was on a rock outcrop hanging off the side of a hill. Mark, David, Bakker, and Tim climbed down to work on removing fossils, while Erin and I took photos from above. The rock was probably 150 feet in the air, and was only a few feet wide. These guys really love their dinosaurs.


Working on a small ledge on a big cliff – that rock Mark is sitting on
seems like it could crack off the cliffside any minute.


Same ledge, but the changed camera angle makes the cliff seem so much safer –
it almost looks like he’s sitting on a rock that’s on the ground.

The last site we went to that day was Quarlesensis. This last site had a dinosaur skull that had claw marks in it. The site also had hundreds of bone fragments from a duckbilled dinosaur. We stayed at Quarlesensis until the sun began to set, and we decided to call it a day. What a great first day out – four sites, and lots of dinosaurs. Hopefully, we’ll get a full day out there tomorrow.


A  hadrosaur vertebrae found at the last site

Authored By Steven Cowan

Steven never dreamed his first job out of college would be in public relations, and on top of that working for one of the top museums in the country. After all, he majored in History at Vassar College. Within three months of graduation, he landed a spot in the PR department and has not looked back since. He is fast becoming a communications fanatic, spending a tremendous amount of his time promoting the museum and all it has to offer.

2 responses to “Fossil Hunting”

  1. well dr bakker are there any good spots nearto find by to find glosidens,tylosaurus,xiphactinus. we could add too,the cretaceous sea display.the hat looks great. have a great dig. julana

  2. Nelma says:

    I just wanted to say that I love this site

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