Dig This, Dinosaur Bones

Dig This, Dinosaur Bones

Science is organized knowledge. Knowledge is organized life.
-Immanuel Kant, thinker (1724-1804)

It takes an experienced eye to take a look at unfastened dirt and rapidly verify what's rock and what's bone. Just ask paleontologist Jerry Jacene of Red Feather Fossil Excavations, Glendive, Montana.
"That is fingers on historical past," explains Jacene. A discipline director with more than 20 years in paleontology, Jacene has traveled, excavated and documented historical finds in Tennessee, Wyoming, Montana and China, just to name a number of places.

A dirt, rocky road will take you back, literally, 12 miles to Makoshika Breaks (aka Camp Rex) and back in time to when cretaceous mammals roamed the Badlands of Montana when it was oceanfront property. Makoshika is fifty square miles of buttes (sandstone), rolling prairies, a few pine trees, and is also a working ranch.

When our group first met Jerry, he showed us several fossils (bones, teeth, eggs and claws) he collected just for our benefit. The first "clue" he explained to us was that bone is porous, so in case you lick it, it should stick to your tongue.

This area, often called the Badlands, used to appear to be the Everglades, in keeping with Jerry, resident paleontologist.

Our camp consisted of a few cabins, a large tepee, and a modern single-story building which housed the kitchen, dining room and gathering place, with two bogs and showers. In an emergency there was always the outhouse, (handicap accessible, however not the buttes). It was here that co-proprietor Lois prepared 1,500 meals in at some point for tv crews and ranchers when the Discovery Channel came out to make a documentary concerning the History of Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex).

The rustic cabins are bunk fashion and minimal electricity. You wont need an alarm clock because dawn comes around 4 am, and it does not get dark until round 10 pm. In case you forgot yours, there are sample packs of Advil and lip balm, compliments of the owners, in the cabins and in the restrooms.

In addition to every day digs, guests can study branding, round-ups (even take part in their twice yearly event) and horseback ride. Roughly 500 head of cattle are on the property and one hundred horses, most of them wild. Evenings are finest enjoyed sitting around the campfire sharing cowboy tales and singing familiar songs.

Our dig begins the subsequent morning after a fast breakfast, buffet style. We load up on Jerry's pick up truck to cover some ground faster. We pass via a number of barbed wire fences, which need to be opened and closed by hand to stop cattle from roaming too far. Through the summer time some cows will discover their way into the buttes, alongside dangerous dry, distant areas the place they're prey for coyotes and other wild animals. Donning hats, sunscreen and carrying bottled water, we make our way by way of cathedral buttes, and rock formations holding treasures of history. Amateurs and volunteers (students to adults) play a significant function in discovering, digging and cleaning dinosaur birthday party bones and different fossils.

"Essentially the most interesting and historic finds will not be the massive ones, like T-Rex or Triceratops," stated Jacene. "It is the small finds that are the most significant. The hint fossils tell us a lot more, like the setting, what they ate; the ecosystem. And how they interacted with every other."
Trace fossils - footprints, mineralized feces, abdomen stones-gastroliths, and impressions left by skin or feathers.

In North Dakota tracks, just like that of an alligator, probably 90' in length have been found. They're ripple marks, 2 1'2" aside and tracks from a rigid tail, 1 ΒΌ" apart. In accordance with Jerry, nobody has seen something like this. They do not know what sort of animal it is.

The most typical finds in this space proper now are turtle shells. These are simply detected because of the sample on the shells, this tells us there will need to have been water nearby. You too can discover small mammals in ant hills. Ants transfer the earth, putting sand and dirt on top of the bones, helping preserve them.

Jerry knows the terrain within the quick area higher than nearby roads. As we hike he factors out where certain bones have been found and how.

"With a pair of 10x50 binoculars, I was able to see a (giant) piece of bone protruding from a rock formation," said Jerry. He points out the varied layers, bands within the buttes. "You wish to look in the dark bands," he additional explained. The layers are ironstone and bentanite. Larger bones that could be protruding are due to the erosion from weather.

The excavation of 1 butte has brought out an arctic crocodile and a mammal bone, probably a leg bone from a Chasmosaurus. And in another layer, Lemur tooth have been found. Oftentimes, as a way to move fragile bones and preventing any additional destruction, fossils are encased in a plaster jacket to protect and relocate them.