Today, National Geographic posted a very cool story about Leonardo and our upcoming exhibit – it includes footage of the Montana expedition as well as interviews with Dr. Bakker and HMNS President Joel A. Bartsch. Check it out here - and let us know what you think!
…And now the Houston Chronicle has done a lovely feature story on our very own Steven’s discovery of a new dinosaur dig site in Malta, Montana. (Or, rather, the Chronicle has re-printed a feature that was written by Eric Newhouse of the Great Falls Tribune, who visited us on-site.) From the article:
“It was exciting,” said Cowan, 22. “Mark (Australian paleontologist Mark Thompson, now working with the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum) said they appeared to be ribs. He came back and found a scapula (shoulder bone) and a few other tendons showing in the rock.
“About 10 feet away, we found another bone jutting out of the rock. Based on the position, the head may have fallen off and rolled down the hill, but we’re hoping that the legs and torso are still in the stone.”
Read more about Steven’s discovery of the new dig site, Marco, in his recent blog post, and about the exciting events of the Museum’s week in Malta here.
The Chronicle also featured news of theLeonardo exhibit and the transfer of fossils from the Dinosaur Field Station to the new Great Plains Dinosaur Museum. Fascinating stuff; be sure to check back soon – more photos and video from the week are coming.
Hello again – from Houston this time. Steven and I are back from Malta. It’s been a few days since we’ve posted about the trip. I’m not gonna lie – we were tired, y’all. People always ask what it takes to be a paleontologist – in addition to education and field experience, it also takes a lack of need for any kind of sleep. It’s a completely amazing experience, but they get up at 6 a.m. and they don’t go to sleep until after midnight – and that’s a long day of hiking up mountains and hanging off cliffs.
So, apologies for the delay, but we have lots more to share – starting with Roberta, the other brachylophosaur. (Besides Leonardo, that is.) She’ll be on display in the new Great Plains Dinosaur Museum (opening June 6 in Malta, MT – book your tickets now. Seriously – you won’t be disappointed), so she won’t be on display in Houston with Leonardo – but she’s a beautifully preserved specimen (as you can see), and we got the chance to see the process of preservation in action this week.
A full size model of Leonardo stands over Roberta, another brachylophosaur found near Malta. Though she does not have skin, Roberta is extremely well preserved. It’s very rare to find a dinosaur so complete. Normally, display specimens are pieced together from multiple individuals.� In the background, several paleontologists are working on other specimens housed in the Field Station.
Roberta’s nose was broken in life – which would have made it very difficult for her
to eat. Her species processed tough plant material by grinding the top part of their
skull over the bottom part – so a break like this would have severely
impeded that process.
Roberta’s teeth are so well preserved, you almost want to brush them.
Roberta’s ribs are resting on the plaster jacket in which she was carried
out of the excavation site (see the gap?). Looking at the skeleton from the
top, the bones appear to be stuck to the jacket – in fact, many pieces had
to be removed before the specimen could be driven to the new Museum.
Otherwise, the vibration from the drive could have jiggled them apart.
The fossils have been preserved in the ground for millions of years – but once you get them out, it’s important to retain that preservation. Montana is so dry that once the bones have been excavated, they can dry out, crack and fall apart very easily. So, every six months, a new coat of Vinac (essentially, glue) must be applied to prevent this from happening.
In this video, Kathy Zoehfeld Vinacs (yes, it’s one of those noun-verbs, like “Google”) Roberta’s skull, to stabilize the fossil before the move to the new museum.
You can see David prepping the other end of Roberta’s skeleton here. In each video, notice how the Vinac adds a visible, thin sheen, in comparison to the other bones that haven’t been coated yet. It soaks into all the pores and helps stabilize the bones, so they don’t begin to crumble.
More soon on Dak – the brachy that survived a T. rex attack!