Live from the field – New Discoveries

Dr. Bakker (right) and Chris Flis
dig the “Uma” site in Seymour.

Our paleontology team – led by Dr. Robert Bakker – is back in Seymour, TX this week, digging for Dimetrodon at a site they’ve now been working for several years. (You can read more of what’s been found already in our daily blog from the field in 2007).

Chris Flis sent the update on yesterday’s progress – the day was filled with new finds which you can hear all about in the podcast below.

In the podcast, Chris also talks about “jacketing” several fossils – this is done when a site yields so many fossils that they can’t safely be excavated in the time the team has available. So, the team digs a trench around the site, covers it with many layers of plaster and burlap to stabilize it, and flips it to cover the bottom. You end up with a giant slab of plaster-encased dirt that can be brought home for further excavation and study.

And when I say giant, I mean it – our team has brought home jackets weighing up to 500 pounds. The jacket made for Leonardo, the mummified dinosaur that was found in Montana (which is now on display here) weighed 6 tons!

The team’s 2007 blog has a great video of the end of the jacketing process – and a bit more detail in how it happens.


More from the field tomorrow! Until then, you can also check out earlier updates from this dig trip:

Day One: Live from the Fossil Field
Day Two: The Smoking Gun

Live from the fossil field!

Dr. Bakker’s drawing of a Dimetrodon fighting a Xenacanth
illustrates E.C. Olson’s theory of what really went on in the
Permian – and how Xenacanth might have defended itself against
the biggest predator the world had ever seen.
(c) Dr. Robert T. Bakker

Our paleontology team – led by Dr. Robert Bakker – is back in Seymour, TX this week, digging for Dimetrodon at a site they’ve now been working for several years. (You can read more of what’s been found already in our daily blog from the field in 2007).

They’ve found Dimetrodon – the T. rex of its day – all over the site. They’ve brought back jacket after jacket of fin spines, vertebra columns, even skulls of this species, for study. But – and this is the mystery – not a whole lot of herbivores. So – what was Dimetrodon eating?

The theory put forth by E.C. Olson is that they were eating Xenacanth (freshwater sharks) that swam in the shallow seas present in the area during the Permian. And the team has found evidence to that effect – in the form of chewed up shark skull in the area. But they’re still after the smoking gun that would prove Olson’s theory definitively.

Twelve or so of our best diggers have made this their mission this week – and one of them will be checking in with us every day. Today, Kat Havens – one of our regular bloggers here – fills us in on what was found. Listen closely – it’s pretty cool.


Check back soon – more news from the field tomorrow!