Sunday, August 06, 2006

August 6, 2006

Glenn, here. I believe that Mason has had a chance to finally get into town and put up her thoughts regarding the past few weeks activities. Thus, I’m shamed into adding another post. Actually, I have an hour of downtime as the second crew is being exchanged for the third and needed to catch up on where we are.

More bones have been collected at Mother’s Day and others have turned up, including more vertebrae, long bones, a small scapula and two apparent coracoids (being mindful that field identifications can be tricky). Sara’s big block is out (just not carried to the camp – all 200 lbs. of it). We’ve been finding a number of in situ chert pebbles in the otherwise homogenous mudstone that makes us believe that they are gastroliths (stomach stones), as the dinosaurs themselves are the most obvious means of transport of such anomalous items.

My big priority, however, has been the Dodson block. Looks like we will get it out in the next week, assuming that we can find some heavy-lift equipment. I’m meeting Will Tillett, the fossil’s discoverer on-site today and he assures me that he has just the thing. At the same time, we are still eyeing trailer sales yards. Having measured the block at approximately 1.5’ x 3.5’ x 9 ‘ at a minimum and 2’ x 4’ x 9’ at a maximum (even though the block is not rectangular) we get 47.25 cubic feet vs. 72 cu. ft. or 1.75 vs. 2.67 cubic yards of rock. At 2,000 lbs. per cubic yard (estimated from the weight of compressed, crushed limestone), the block is conservatively between 3,500 and 5,333 lbs. in weight (someone shout if our math is wrong!). We think this is easily (relatively speaking!) doable. Look for more adventures on this project as we progress.

Yesterday we had another general geology and petroglyph tour, capped off by an evening at the races (only pigs won, none of us this day, sad to say). Wildlife checklist now includes more antelope and turkeys, fence lizards, a baby “horny toad” (another lizard, of course), another eagle (golden), an two large owls. Hiking down the petroglyph canyon in the blazing sun (oh yes, the fires are out, but the heat is back, at least temporarily) we ran into VERY LARGE cat tracks in the sand along our trail – a cougar! We didn’t see the lion, but I presume he saw us. I wasn’t worried, however, as I know they prefer stragglers (listen up you in the back!).

Today our youth program kids come into camp. These are high school kids that have been volunteering in the Museum and participating in CMC’s youth mentoring program. The idea is to give a diversity of kids with differing backgrounds the chance to closely interact over four years while at the same time providing an expectation that they will carry on with their educations (hopefully getting some quality volunteer efforts out of them too). The capstone project for kids interested in science is to attend the Dinosaur Field School in Montana – quite an undertaking for kids who may never have left Ohio. This effort has been so successful is inspiring kids (some to even go on as geology/paleontology majors – sorry, moms and dads!) that an anonymous donor has stepped forward for 3 years to sponsor the kid’s trips. More sponsors always welcome!

Tomorrow, we’ll have another Beartooth Plateau geology tour and start the process over again. I will also be giving a lecture to them and a group from Franklin & Marshall College about the Mother’s Day Site, Jurassic dinosaurs and the Morrison Formation (one of the premier dinosaur-bearing units in the world). I neglected to mention that the Carbon County Historical Society had tapped me for this talk some month’s ago for presentation at their museum in Red Lodge. It seemed to go rather well, but an attending geologist and YBRA ----

FLASH! - Brief interruption here as I had to look out the back window of my cabin to watch a cow moose and her calf pass within 20 ft. We then followed them across camp as they went on up the mountain (always keeping a respectful distance as it’s never good to annoy a protective mother who is the size of a mid-sized sedan). Nice exclamation point to the Montana holiday of our second week crew.

Anyhow, where was I? Oh yes, geologist and YBRA counselor, Marv Kaufmann was in attendance at my lecture. As a result, I’m giving it again to his visiting F & M alumni group and the CMC kids simultaneously. I’ll lead them all out to MDS next morning.

Next installment I believe I’ll talk about the YBRA itself (because I can’t remember if I’ve done so as yet – time and ideas sort of running together out here) and how it came to be and how we all have ended up here along with a variety of other geology students, researchers, professors and tourists.

Cheers for now.


Cassie said...

Please tell Tiffany that her Mom says to NOT try and pet the cougar.

Glenn said...

She's been warned! Indeed, we all made it out unscathed and without even seeing the feline. Hi to Tiffany when she get's back. G-