Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Undergrads - Don't miss this

Quickly click on over to the Open Source Paleontologist and check out his recent post on the Research Training Program (RTP) at the National Museum of Natural History. And then apply. The Force is strong with you. I don't have a bad feeling about this. This will be a day long remembered......I do not find your lack of faith disturbing. Good luck!



yes, I am a dork. Sorry.

Its a major award!


And its not even a lamp! I was included in the Bachelors Degree Online "100 Best Blogs for Earth Science Scholars: paleontology division" (I am in very good company I noticed). My modest blog has never been given an award before, so I would like to thank the academy, my family, and you, my readers! THANKS for making my first year of blogging a fun one!!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Biggest Science Stories of 2008

National Geographic News let bloggers from various disciplines pick the Biggest Science Stories of 2008 this year. Brian Switek of Laelaps was chosen to pick the top stores in paleontology that fall into the categories of Most Important, Most Overlooked and Weirdest. It would be hard to narrow it down IMO. There were so many interesting stories this year.

Swing by the National Geographic to see his picks. What would your picks be?

Monday, December 29, 2008

Another PaleoBlog

A newer PaleoBlog was brought to my attention today by blog-friend Jerry H. Swing by and check out Thom Holmes' Prehistoria! The RSS feed is not available yet however. Keep an eye out for that :)
Thom's bio states that he "is the author of more than 20 books about evolution, dinosaurs, and other prehistoric life." Be sure to check out his Amazon store!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

"How Cell Phones Can Help Paleontologists"

Ari over at CellPhones.org sent along an article called "How Cell Phones Can Help Paleontologists" that might be of interest to some of you out there. Callan over at NOVA GeoBlog also points out another wonderful reason to own an iPhone (I do not sadly): you can add a clinometer application!! Who needs a Brunton (joke - but they are probably similar in price if buying new I guess).
Swing by and check them out.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Chirstmas


Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Geology is learned through the soles of your shoes, not the seat of your pants!

RIP
2001 - 2008


These boots came into my life from a shoe rack at the Anchorage REI in May of 2001. I had traveled to Alaska to start a geology internship for Alaska State Parks at Independence Mine State Historic Park and found myself quite unprepared in the shoe department. The hiking boots I had bought in high school were not going to hack it there. So we made the trip into Anchorage where I bought the most expensive pair of shoes I have ever bought in my entire life. Still. They were a great pair of boots and my feet stayed dry all summer (through the snow, muck, and soggy ground - and it rained, quite a bit). I never even got a single blister from them. Not one!

These boots and I have seen alot together. They were on my feet that summer in Alaska when I was stung just above the left boot tongue by two ground hornets. I wore them on innumerable geology field trips as I finished up my undergrad degree and later on as I worked on my MS. I wore them on my first hike to Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. They were with me all through field camp, for miles and miles. They helped keep my feet safe from all the wonderful sharp plants while hiking in Big Bend to and from my master’s thesis field site (and many others field sites). They were with me every day as I hiked through Glacier National Park during my first post-graduation job. I wore them in the Badlands of Utah and Nebraska while fossil prospecting with friends. I even took these wonderful boots to Japan with me and wore them as I hiked up Mt. Fuji. They were with me as I summited my first 14er in Colorado, hiked down into the Grand Canyon, and as I made it up to the Walcott Quarry/Burgess Shale. We have hunted for fossils together thousands of times and surveyed countless outcrops. They kept my feet dry and warm, bite and blister free. I do not think I will ever be able to replace them. Letting them go is one of the hardest things I will ever have to do. But they will always live on, in my memory. When I think back on all of the great times we spent together, I am reminded of a quote my former professor Walter Manger would say:

"Geology is learned through the soles of your shoes, not the seat of your pants!"

These shoes saw their last days working on an outcrop in central Utah. I knew their soles were getting thin, but I did not realize their time was so near. I tried to help them with some ducktape, but not even that could hold them together. And in the end, time won. I know in their company I have learned a great many things! And I am glad they could be my partner through this wonderful learning experience and I appreciate all they have done for me. I WILL MISS YOU BOOTS!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Taphonomy of Oil

Earlier this year I read an article in Palaeontologia Electronica called "Taphonomy of Oil" by Jere H. Lipps. I thought it was an interesting read so I thought I would finally get around to passing it on.

We Wish You A Dino Holiday

Continued from Mondays post....

We Wish You A Dino Holiday
(sung to the tune of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas")

We Wish You A Dino Holiday;
We Wish You A Dino Holiday;
We Wish You A Dino Holiday;
And a Happy New Year!

Our stockings are hug, our hearts
filled with glee;
We've wrapped up a Raptor for
under the tree.

We Wish You A Dino Christmas;
We Wish You A Dino Christmas;
We Wish You A Dino Christmas;
And a Happy New Year!

Eight candles we'll light this
Hanukkah night,
Dinosaur-a-Menorah will shine
clear and bright!

We Wish You A Dino Hanukkah;
We Wish You A Dino Hanukkah;
We Wish You A Dino Hanukkah;
And a Happy New Year!

Our kinara is lit, our Kuumba's increased;
We're letting the dinosaurs join
in the feast!

We Wish You A Dino Kwanzaa;
We Wish You A Dino Kwanzaa;
We Wish You A Dino Kwanzaa;
And a Happy New Year!

We Wish You A Dino Holiday;
We Wish You A Dino Holiday;
We Wish You A Dino Holiday;
And a Happy New Year!

Lyrics by Anne Muecke.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Deck the Halls with Stegosaurus

From my post this past Monday.....

Deck the Halls with Stegosaurus (sung to the tune of "Deck the Halls")

Deck the Halls with Stegosaurus,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Jolly dinos never bore us,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Go put on your tux or ball gown,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Dance with Steg and rock
the hall down!
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Merry Raptors join the party,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Appetites are big and hearty,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Games must end in time for dinner,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Or the T. Rex will eat the winner!
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Where's desert? The guest are
waiting!
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Eggnog is refrigerating,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Oh, too bad, the Gobisaurus,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
At the cake - there's no more for us!
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Gather round the Songlingornis,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Strike a merry dino chorus,
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Sing ye loudly, wake the neighbors!
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Calm them down with party favors,
Fa la la la la la la la la.

Stop the music! Stop the jumping!
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Stop the dino-tails-a-thumping!
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Party's over, dawn is breaking
Fa la la la la la la la la.
Just in time, our heads are aching!
Fa la la la la la la la la!

Lyrics by Anne Muecke.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

What is a wall?

I was watching Jeopardy yesterday and in the category "Dinosaurs" the clue was "In 2001 Chinese Scientists said a group of these made by dinosaurs included one 1 1/2 yards long."

The obvious answer is track/footprint and the only answer they got was "What is a wall?" Huh? Wall? Seriously? And the guy who gave the answer actually won the game, but lost today.

The Allosaurus Chorus

More Dino-music fun.........

The Allosaurus Chorus (Sung to the tune of the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah)

Allosaurus! Allosaurus!
Allosaurus! Allosaurus! Allosaurus!
Allosaurus! Allosaurus!
Allosaurus! Allosaurus! Allosaurus!

For the great 'Dinosauria reigneth
Barosaurus! Carnotaurus! Hadrosaurus!
Stegosaurus!
For the great 'Dinosauria reigneth
Pachysaurus! Maiasaurus! Fabrosaurus!
Rocasaurus!

For the great 'Dinosauria reigneth
Gasosaurus! Gryposaurus! Gorgosaurus!
Gobisaurus!
Longosaurus! 'Poposaurus! Sellosaurus!
Technosaurus!
Ultrasaurus! Adasaurus! Dryosaurus!
Spinosaurus!
Allosaurus! Allosaurus!

The rulers of the paleo world, is become
A kingdom of creatures both big and
bold - both big and bold,
And they shall roam for millions of years .

Dino kings
For millions of years - Allosaurus!
No-more-us!
Mighty and strong
For millions of years - Stegosaurus!
No-more-us!

Dino kings
For millions of years - Hadrosaurus!
No-more-us!
Mighty and strong
For millions of years - Maiasaurus!
No-more-us!

Dino kings
For millions of years - Ultrasaurus!
No-more-us!
Mighty and strong - dino kings -
might and strong.

And they shall roam for millions of years.

Dino kings
For millions of years - mighty and strong
Allosaurus! No-more-us!

Their bones preserved for eons and eons and eons.
Fossil kings
For all to see.
Fossil kings
For all to see.
Their bones preserved for eons and eons.
Fossil kings
Preserved in stone.
Pachysaurus! Dryosaurus! Spinosaurus!
Allosaurus! Allosaurus!

Lyrics by Anne Muecke.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Hark! The Pterodactyls Sing

Continuing on my post from yesterday.....

Hark! The Pterodactyls Sing (to the tune of Hark! The Herald Angels Sing)

Hark! The Pterodactyls Sing
Flying high on reptile wing.
Down below them in a nest
raptor chicks await breakfast.
Rays of sunshine coax rebirth
From the Mesozoic earth.
Tiny bug and giant beast
'Wake to hunt a new 'morn's feast.
Hark! The Pterodactyls sing -
Wondering what the day will bring.

Diplodocids in a band
Stroll across the misty land.
Evergreen and fern so sweet
Fuel a thunderous march of feet.
spindly neck of Seismosaurus
Reach up to the roofs of forests.
Drooping heads of Dryosaurs
Pick new moss from forest floors.
Hark! The Pterodactyls sing -
Wondering what the day will bring.

Rushing through a thicket dense,
A Tyrannosaur, immense
Chases down a hapless prey -
Just in time it gets away!
A voracious appetite
Threatens creatures still in sight.
Silently they crouch and hide
Until T. 'Rex passes by.
Hark! The Pterodactyls sing -
Wondering what the day will bring.

'Deep beneath a rolling sea
'Pliosaurs dive gracefully
Searching for a seafood meal -
Trilobite or paleo-eel.
Far below, a shadow, looming -
Suddenly to surface zooming!
Mouth agape, a Mosasaur
Makes the divers head for shore!
Hark! The Pterodactyls sing -
Wondering what the day will bring.

Mama Raptor has come back
'With a tasty morning snack
Eagerly her hungry brood
Gobble up the baby food.
Far aloft, on graceful wing
'Pterosaurs, still hang-gliding,
Herald that the rising sun
Marks another day begun.
Hark! The Pterodactyls sing -
"'Day has dawned on everything!"

Lyrics by Anne Muecke

Monday, December 15, 2008

I Blinded Me With Science! And other great shirts for Christmas

Peggy at "Women in Science" pointed me in the direction of some great Science gifts for Christmas from YellowIbis.com. Below are a few of my favorite. Check out her post for other gift ideas and YellowIbis for awesome apparel.

I blinded me with science


Wrong, but funny.






Sunday, December 14, 2008

the Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas

John and I found a new book, the Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas, when we were visiting the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History last month. This is a cute book for kids and entertaining enough for adults. It has some nice and colorful illustrations by Nathan Hale, with the story by Anne Muecke. And yes, that is Cryolophosaurus you see on the cover, although he is sadly missing from the rest of the book. Not to give anything away, but a fun sidenote - Santa-saurus is played by a ceratopsid - so that is worth something there, right?!? The back cover of the book tells me that "a portion from your purchase of this book helps support [the American Museum of Natural History] scientific and educational endeavors."

Probably the best (although best in a completely goofy and possibly eggnog intoxicated type of way - if you are into that type of thing) is the CD that comes with the book. It contains five "Dinosaur-Christmas-Holiday" themed songs, set to traditional Christmas/Holiday tunes, such as: Hey, Duckbills! (Jingle Bells), The Allosaurus Chorus ("Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah), Hark! The Pterodactyls Sing (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing), Deck the Halls with Stegosaurus (Deck the Halls with bla bla bla), and We Wish You a Dino Holiday (We Wish You a Merry Christmas). The CD also has Al Roker reading the story from the Dinosaurs' Night Before Christmas.

I wish I could figure out a way to upload these songs for you to hear, but the anti-Pirate (yaarrr) people make life more difficult every day (you can hear clips here at least). So, instead, I'll just post the lyrics, and you can hum the tune in your head. I guess I will start with and post the others on days to come. Consider it my Christmas gift to all of you. Your so lucky! ;)

Hey, 'Duckbills!


Hey, 'Duckbills! Hey, 'Duckbills!
Oh, how can we say
'Why your odd-shaped cranium
Evolved to look that way?
Hey, 'Duckbills! Hey, 'Duckbills!
Oh, how can we say
'Why your odd-shaped cranium
Evolved to look that way?

'Dashing looks aside, I think
that I would dread
To have so many bony pounds
en-crested on my head!
Unless this crown would bring, along
with sinus space
Some fine survival advantage to aid my
humble race!

Oh! Hey, 'Duckbills! Hey, 'Duckbills!
Oh, how can we say
'Why your odd-shaped cranium
Evolved to look that way?
Hey, 'Duckbills! Hey, 'Duckbills!
Oh, how can we say
'Why your odd-shaped cranium
Evolved to look that way?

Hidden in your crest were chambers
full of air,
Could these extra cavities enhance
your vocal flair?
'Did they make your voice resound
so deep and loud?
Or was yoru crest just fashion fluff to
make your mate feel proud?

Oh, how can we say
'Why your odd-shaped cranium
Evolved to look that way?
Hey, 'Duckbills! Hey, 'Duckbills!
Oh, how can we say
'Why your odd-shaped cranium
Evolved to look that way?

Lyrics by Anne Muecke

100 Things You've Done Meme: A Geologist's Version

MJC Rocks over at Geotripper has created a wonderful new meme based on the 100 Things You've Done meme that has been going around. Read about how he came up with/adapted this list here. This one is just to great not to do!

Bold the ones you have done and tell us some great stories!

1. See an erupting volcano
2. See a glacier (in Glacier NP, Banff NP, and Alaska, and from a plane while flying over Canada)
3. See an active geyser such as those in Yellowstone, New Zealand or the type locality of Iceland
4. Visit the Cretaceous/Tertiary (KT) Boundary. Possible locations include Gubbio, Italy, Stevns Klint, Denmark, the Red Deer River Valley near Drumheller, Alberta. (in Big Bend NP)
5. Observe (from a safe distance) a river whose discharge is above bankful stage (this past spring when the Mississippi broke the levees the week I moved)
6. Explore a limestone cave. Try Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Lehman Caves in Great Basin National Park, or the caves of Kentucky or TAG (Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia)
7. Tour an open pit mine, such as those in Butte, Montana, Bingham Canyon, Utah, Summitville, Colorado, Globe or Morenci, Arizona, or Chuquicamata, Chile.
8. Explore a subsurface mine. (worked at one in Alaska - Independence Mine State Historic Park)
9. See an ophiolite, such as the ophiolite complex in Oman or the Troodos complex on the Island Cyprus (if on a budget, try the Coast Ranges or Klamath Mountains of California).
10. An anorthosite complex, such as those in Labrador, the Adirondacks, and Niger (there's some anorthosite in southern California too).
11. A slot canyon. Many of these amazing canyons are less than 3 feet wide and over 100 feet deep. They reside on the Colorado Plateau. Among the best are Antelope Canyon, Brimstone Canyon, Spooky Gulch and the Round Valley Draw.
12. Varves, whether you see the type section in Sweden or examples elsewhere.
13. An exfoliation dome, such as those in the Sierra Nevada. (in Oklahoma [Arbuckles] and Missouri [Ozark Dome])
14. A layered igneous intrusion, such as the Stillwater complex in Montana or the Skaergaard Complex in Eastern Greenland.
15. Coastlines along the leading and trailing edge of a tectonic plate (check out The Dynamic Earth - The Story of Plate Tectonics - an excellent website).
16. A ginkgo tree, which is the lone survivor of an ancient group of softwoods that covered much of the Northern Hemisphere in the Mesozoic. (Love love love Ginkgo trees! I use to walk by one every day one my way to and from school)
17. Living and fossilized stromatolites (Glacier National Park is a great place to see fossil stromatolites, while Shark Bay in Australia is the place to see living ones) - (obviously from my prior post you know I have seen thousands of these suckers in Glacier NP, but have also seen then in the Green River Fm.)
18. A field of glacial erratics (in Alaska, Wyoming)
19. A caldera (in Alaska/Wyoming/Arizona...)
20. A sand dune more than 200 feet high
21. A fjord (in Alaska, Kenai Fjords NP)
22. A recently formed fault scarp
23. A megabreccia (Alaska)
24. An actively accreting river delta (from a plane, does that count?)
25. A natural bridge (Utah)
26. A large sinkhole (Arkansas, Texas, Missouri)
27. A glacial outwash plain (Alaska, Glacier NP)
28. A sea stack
29. A house-sized glacial erratic (Alaska, from my window every morning..I never noticed how big it really was till I was almost up to it! HUGE! Scales are a little off up there at times)
30. An underground lake or river (Arkansas)
31. The continental divide (Montana, Wyoming, Colorado)
32. Fluorescent and phosphorescent minerals (we have quite a nice collection at Augustana)
33. Petrified trees (PEFO)
34. Lava tubes (Craters of the Moon National Monument, Idaho, where I was stung by a wasp!)
35. The Grand Canyon. All the way down. And back. (ok, I have not been all the way down and all the way back, but I have been down someways and we plan on doing the whole thing this next spring, does that still count?)
36. Meteor Crater, Arizona, also known as the Barringer Crater, to see an impact crater on a scale that is comprehensible
37. The Great Barrier Reef, northeastern Australia, to see the largest coral reef in the world.
38. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, Canada, to see the highest tides in the world (up to 16m)
39. The Waterpocket Fold, Utah, to see well exposed folds on a massive scale.
40. The Banded Iron Formation, Michigan, to better appreciate the air you breathe.
41. The Snows of Kilimanjaro, Tanzania,
42. Lake Baikal, Siberia, to see the deepest lake in the world (1,620 m) with 20 percent of the Earth's fresh water.
43. Ayers Rock (known now by the Aboriginal name of Uluru), Australia. This inselberg of nearly vertical Precambrian strata is about 2.5 kilometers long and more than 350 meters high
44. Devil's Tower, northeastern Wyoming, to see a classic example of columnar jointing
45. The Alps.
46. Telescope Peak, in Death Valley National Park. From this spectacular summit you can look down onto the floor of Death Valley - 11,330 feet below.
47. The Li River, China, to see the fantastic tower karst that appears in much Chinese art
48. The Dalmation Coast of Croatia, to see the original Karst.
49. The Gorge of Bhagirathi, one of the sacred headwaters of the Ganges, in the Indian Himalayas, where the river flows from an ice tunnel beneath the Gangatori Glacier into a deep gorge.
50. The Goosenecks of the San Juan River, Utah, an impressive series of entrenched meanders.
51. Shiprock, New Mexico, to see a large volcanic neck
52. Land's End, Cornwall, Great Britain, for fractured granites that have feldspar crystals bigger than your fist.
53. Tierra del Fuego, Chile and Argentina, to see the Straights of Magellan and the southernmost tip of South America.
54. Mount St. Helens, Washington, to see the results of recent explosive volcanism. (from a plane, twice!)
55. The Giant's Causeway and the Antrim Plateau, Northern Ireland, to see polygonally fractured basaltic flows.
56. The Great Rift Valley in Africa.
57. The Matterhorn, along the Swiss/Italian border, to see the classic "horn".
58. The Carolina Bays, along the Carolinian and Georgian coastal plain
59. The Mima Mounds near Olympia, Washington
60. Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland, where James Hutton (the "father" of modern geology) observed the classic unconformity
61. The moving rocks of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley
62. Yosemite Valley
63. Landscape Arch (or Delicate Arch) in Utah
64. The Burgess Shale in British Columbia
65. The Channeled Scablands of central Washington
66. Bryce Canyon
67. Grand Prismatic Spring at Yellowstone
68. Monument Valley (just this past 4th of July!)
69. The San Andreas fault (I had Thanksgiving dinner practically on it last year! Yikes!!)
70. The dinosaur footprints in La Rioja, Spain
71. The volcanic landscapes of the Canary Islands
72. The Pyrennees Mountains
73. The Lime Caves at Karamea on the West Coast of New Zealand
74. Denali (an orogeny in progress) (even the summit!)
75. A catastrophic mass wasting event
76. The giant crossbeds visible at Zion National Park (beautiful!)
77. The black sand beaches in Hawaii (or the green sand-olivine beaches)
78. Barton Springs in Texas
79. Hells Canyon in Idaho
80. The Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado (just down the road!)
81. The Tunguska Impact site in Siberia
82. Feel an earthquake with a magnitude greater than 5.0.
83. Find dinosaur footprints in situ (more than I can count)
84. Find a trilobite (or a dinosaur bone or any other fossil) (check, check, and check)
85. Find gold, however small the flake (Alaska, working in a gold mine....)
86. Find a meteorite fragment
87. Experience a volcanic ashfall
88. Experience a sandstorm (I lived in Lubbock, Texas. I am lucky I still have skin!)
89. See a tsunami
90. Witness a total solar eclipse (once, when I was still in High School)
91. Witness a tornado firsthand. (Important rules of this game). (I grew up in tornado alley, I have seen more than my fair share)
92. Witness a meteor storm, a term used to describe a particularly intense (1000+ per minute) meteor shower (in Alaska, it was AWESOME!!)
93. View Saturn and its moons through a respectable telescope.
94. See the Aurora borealis, otherwise known as the northern lights. (during #92, which made it that much more AWESOME!! Until the moon came up and ruined it all with all that light)
95. View a great naked-eye comet, an opportunity which occurs only a few times per century (Hale-bopp in Yellowstone/Glacier)
96. See a lunar eclipse
97. View a distant galaxy through a large telescope
98. Experience a hurricane
99. See noctilucent clouds
100. See the green flash


Not bad - I am 50/50 - half way there I guess! And John has done 54 of them. Now I just need to find some $$ so I can see something off this continent!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm looking for a book....

Hello to all of you out there! I am in need of some advice. Can any of you recommended any good book on the Cambrian or on Trilobites (preferably Cambrian trilobites)..... we already have the old favorites:


The Cambrian Fossils of Chengjiang, China
Wonderful Life
Fossils of the Burgess Shale
The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals


Thanks for your help!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Accretionary Wedge #14

The 14th Accretionary Wedge is now available. For November our host, Dave, of Geology News, asked us "whether you’re a student, researcher, or in the industry, what is your absolute favorite place that you’ve done field work in? Where and why? What were you working on and what made it so great?"

Swing by and check out the great responses! Thanks to Dave for hosting the AW!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tiktaalik (Your Inner Fish)

An awesome song about Tiktaalik by the Indoorfins. Check it out!




Thanks to Liz and Heather for the heads up on this one!

Twelve Months meme

Several folks are doing the Twelve Months meme so I thought I would see what I have done over the past year. The rules for this blog meme are easy: just post the link and first sentence from the first blog entry for each month of the past year.

  1. Jan. - So, I have finally made the move.
  2. Feb. - The buzz around the Nature article (see my last post) appears to still be going strong.
  3. Mar. - Sorry for the lack of post.
  4. April - President Al Gore with a special message:
  5. May - Unveiled at a British ban-the-bomb rally on April 4, 1958, the peace symbol's peak of potency was in the 1960s, when it was the emblem of the anti-Vietnam War movement and all things groovily counterculture.
  6. June - I am back from the badlands and I hope to be able to fill you in on all of it as soon as I am caught up.
  7. July - My allergies have been so bad recently that I think I might actually consider something like this...
  8. Aug. - Check out this article on Living the Scientific Life.
  9. Sept. - The Siyeh Formation (also known as the Helena Formation) is by far the best exposed formation in the park.
  10. Oct. - The name Pachyrhinosaur lakustai was finally revealed yesterday for the new Grand Prairie/Pipestone Creek ceratopsian!
  11. Nov. - Have you ever had one of those moments in your life that you thought would never, ever happen?
  12. Dec. - Traumador of the Tyrannosaur Chronicles is hosting this month's Boneyard carnival and asked for submissions on "My Favorite Museum."

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Dinosaurs along the Silk Road

Another Paleo trip to China for those who might be interested.........

Dinosaurs along the Silk Road

May 30 (Saturday) – June 10 (Wednesday), 2009 (12 days)

Type of Trip: Geotour (Paleontology)
Location: northwestern China
(cities of Beijing, Lanzhou, Jiayuguan, and Dunhuang)
Scientific Leaders: Drs. Matt Lamanna, Jerry Harris, and Hailu You
Minimum Number: 5
Maximum Number: 15


Geotour Overview:
Sinofossa Institute is proud to offer a unique opportunity to experience the cultural, historical, and geological wonders of the People’s Republic of China while following professional paleontologists Dr. Matt Lamanna (Assistant Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, PA), Dr. Jerry Harris (Director of Paleontology, Dixie State College, St. George, UT), and Dr. Hailu You (Director, Sinofossa Institute and Senior Researcher, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing) to explore for Cretaceous-aged dinosaurs (both avian and non-avian) in the Changma Basin and other spectacular paleontological sites in Gansu Province, northwestern China.

Following in the footsteps of Marco Polo, your tour directors and their colleagues have recently made several extraordinary and scientifically significant dinosaur discoveries along the ancient Silk Road in Gansu. Among them are: Gansus yumenensis from the Changma Basin, the oldest-known close relative of modern birds (which was published in the prestigious journal Science and featured in the Science Channel’s 2006 documentary Rise of the Feathered Dragons and the History Channel’s 2008 series Evolve), Lanzhousaurus magnidens from the Lanzhou Basin, the largest-toothed herbivorous dinosaur in the world, and Auroraceratops rugosus from the White Pagoda Basin, a primitive relative of famous horned dinosaurs such as Triceratops. Participants will tour and conduct paleontological fieldwork at these three sites, in addition to visiting well-known cultural and historical attractions along the Silk Road, including the western end of the Great Wall at Jiayuguan City, and Dunhuang, an oasis city famous for the Mogao Grottoes (“Caves of the Thousand Buddhas”), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While in Beijing, our group will also tour the Chinese Paleozoological Museum and the Beijing Natural History Museum. Moreover, in Lanzhou, we will visit the laboratory of Gansu’s foremost dinosaur paleontologist, Dr. Daqing Li of the Gansu Provincial Bureau of Geo-Exploration and Mineral Development, to see fossils of several of the amazing dinosaurs that he, You, Lamanna, and Harris have discovered and formally named in recent years.

Who Should Attend?
Persons interested in dinosaurs and fossil birds, and who desire a unique, natural history-oriented experience in China.

Tour Fee, Deposit, & Payment:
US$ 2,800.00/person (double occupancy)
US$ 3,300.00/person (single occupancy)
Deposit: US$ 200.00
Deposit Deadline: March 30, 2009
Full Payment Deadline: April 30, 2009
For terms and conditions, please visit http://www.sinofossa.org/joinus-01.html.

Included in Tour Package:
All transportation within China, including transfers between airports and hotels.
Deluxe accommodations in Beijing and clean, comfortable accommodations in Gansu.
All meals and beverages.
All tickets for sightseeing attractions throughout the trip.
Permits required to explore for and excavate dinosaur fossils.
All tools for fossil excavation, including rock hammers, gloves, brushes, and chisels for individual use, and equipment (e.g., pickaxes, shovels, spades, generators) and supplies (plaster, glues, burlap, etc.) for group use if necessary.
English-speaking, professional leadership.
Full pre-trip information and assistance.

Not Included in Tour Price:
Passport and visa fees.
International airfare.
Travel insurance.
Gratuities.
Laundry.
Optional two-day pre-trip sightseeing excursion in Beijing (see below).

Scientific Leaders:

Dr. Matt Lamanna
Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Matt is Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s first curator committed to dinosaur paleontology since the early 20th Century. He received his B. S. from Hobart College in 1997, and his M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1999 and 2004, respectively. He has extensive field experience in the western United States, Argentina, Australia, Egypt, and China. In 2000, he co-led a research team that discovered Paralititan stromeri, one of the most massive dinosaurs that ever lived, in Egypt’s Bahariya Oasis. A film on the expedition, The Lost Dinosaurs of Egypt, debuted on the A&E Network in 2002 and has been repeatedly re-aired by that network and the History Channel. In 2006, Matt, Jerry, Hailu, and their collaborators announced the discovery of dozens of beautifully-preserved fossils of the 110 million-year-old bird Gansus yumenensis in northwestern China. These specimens provided fresh evidence of how and when modern-style birds evolved from their dinosaurian ancestors. Matt recently served as the lead scientific advisor to Carnegie Museum of Natural History’s $36 million dinosaur exhibition, Dinosaurs in Their Time. The first phase of this exhibition opened in November 2007, and the second and final phase debuted in June 2008.

Dr. Jerry Harris
Dixie State College, St. George, Utah
Jerry’s long-standing interest in dinosaurs began its transformation into a career as a vertebrate paleontologist in 1991 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Jerry went on to earn degrees from the University of Colorado (B.A.), Southern Methodist University (M.S.), and the University of Pennsylvania (Ph.D.). He has studied fossils in Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, New Mexico, and Texas, and is currently involved in projects in Utah, Argentina, and, of course, China. Jerry’s research has focused on Mesozoic archosaurs, including sauropod and theropod dinosaurs (including Gansus yumenensis) and pterosaurs, as well as their footprints. He has been involved in naming eight new dinosaurs and dinosaur footprints.

Dr. Hailu You
Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, Beijing
Hailu’s extensive knowledge of vertebrate paleontology, especially dinosaurs, was gained through six years of Ph.D. study at Philadelphia’s University of Pennsylvania, as well as more than fifteen years of field and laboratory work on vertebrate fossils. Recently, his research has focused on two main projects: exploring northwestern China for new dinosaurs, ancient birds, and other vertebrates from the Early Cretaceous, a critical time in the evolution of land ecosystems, as well as the evolution of primitive horned dinosaurs, in collaboration with colleagues from Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the University of Pennsylvania, Dixie State College, the Canadian Museum of Nature, and various Chinese institutions. Hailu has named nine new dinosaur genera since 2003, placing him among the most prolific dinosaur paleontologists working today.

Itinerary:

Day 1, Beijing: arrival and welcome.
Feel free to arrive at any time of the day. We’ll meet you at the Beijing Capital International Airport, and transfer you to your hotel. We’ll celebrate your arrival with a welcome reception in the evening.

Day 2, Beijing: Beijing Natural History Museum and Chinese Paleozoological Museum.
Today, we’ll visit the Beijing Natural History Museum in the morning, and the unparalleled fossil collections of the Chinese Paleozoological Museum of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in the afternoon. IVPP is one of the largest paleontological institutions in the world, and a global leader in the study of vertebrate fossils.

Day 3, Beijing > Lanzhou: Fossil Research and Development Center.
Today, we’ll fly to Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu Province, in the morning, and in the afternoon, visit the unique dinosaur collection of the Fossil Research and Development Center of the Gansu Provincial Bureau of Geo-Exploration and Mineral Development.

Day 4, Lanzhou: Liujiaxia Dinosaur National Geopark.
Today, we’ll visit the Liujiaxia Dinosaur National Geopark. Here, a diverse and well-preserved assemblage of dinosaur (meat-eating theropod, long-necked sauropod, and plant-eating ornithopod), pterosaur, and bird tracks have been recovered from Lower Cretaceous-aged rocks exposed along the Yellow River. Several bizarre new dinosaurs have also been recently found in the same geological horizons, including the huge ornithopod Lanzhousaurus magnidens and the gigantic sauropod Huanghetitan liujiaxiaensis.

Day 5, Lanzhou > Jiayuguan.
Today, we’ll drive 700 km (435 mi) to Jiayuguan City, located at the western end of the Great Wall, taking in the scenery along the way.

Day 6, Jiayuguan > Yumen: White Pagoda and Great Wall.
Today, we’ll travel north, into the Gobi Desert, to visit fossil quarries in the White Pagoda Basin, where numerous new dinosaur species have recently been discovered, including the earliest-known large therizinosaur, Suzhousaurus megatherioides, and the primitive horned dinosaur Auroraceratops rugosus. We’ll also visit the western end of the Great Wall, and travel to Yumen City, which will serve as our base for the next three days of fossil hunting in the Changma Basin.

Days 7-9, Changma: discovering fossil birds and more.
Nestled in a mountain valley at the northern edge of the Tibetan Plateau, the Changma Basin has recently been the site of many remarkable Early Cretaceous fossil discoveries. Here, since 2004, You, Lamanna, Harris, and their collaborators have uncovered nearly one hundred partial to nearly complete skeletons of 110-million-year-old birds, most of which pertain to a single species: Gansus yumenensis, the oldest-known close relative of living birds. Our group will spend three days splitting mudstones in the Changma Basin, in many of the same quarries that have yielded fossil birds, in search of additional specimens of Gansus, other archaic bird species, and the plants, freshwater invertebrates, insects, fishes, amphibians, and reptiles that lived with them*.

Day 10, Yumen > Dunhuang: Mogao Grottoes.
Today, we’ll drive to the oasis city of Dunhuang and visit the Mogao Grottoes (also known as the “Caves of the Thousand Buddhas”), a UNESCO world heritage site.

Day 11, Dunhuang > Beijing.
Today, we’ll fly back to Beijing. If time allows, we’ll go shopping. We’ll enjoy Peking Duck for dinner.

Day 12, Beijing: fond farewells.
We’ll take you to the airport, guide you to your terminal, and share a final lunch together if you depart in the afternoon.

*According to Chinese laws, all fossils belong to the nation. Any and all specimens we collect will be permanently reposited in Chinese institutions.

Optional Pre-trip Two-day Sightseeing Excursion in Beijing:
To participate in this optional sightseeing excursion (which is not included in the tour prices listed above), please arrive in Beijing on Thursday, May 28, 2009.

Fees:
US$ 400.00/person (double occupancy)
US$ 500.00/person (single occupancy)

Day 1, Beijing: The Great Wall and Ming Tombs.
We’ll drive north, to visit the Great Wall and Ming Tombs for the entire day.

Day 2, Beijing: The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and Temple of Heaven.
We’ll visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in the morning and the Temple of Heaven in the afternoon. In the evening, we’ll join our other participants for dinner.

Questions? Please Contact:
info@sinofossa.org
Dr. Matthew Lamanna (lamannam@carnegiemnh.org)
Dr. Jerald Harris (jharris@dixie.edu)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Tracking China’s Dinosaurs

I thought I would pass this on to those of you that might be interested..........


Sinofossa 2009 Geotour - Tracking China's Dinosaurs


June 13 (Saturday) - 23 (Tuesday), 2009 (11 days)

Type of Trip: Geotour (Paleontology)
Location: northwestern China
(cities of Beijing, Xian, and Lanzhou)
Science Leaders: Andrew R. C. Milner and Hai-Lu You
Minimum Number: 10
Maximum number: 17


Trip Overview:
The Sinofossa Institute and St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site are proud to offer a unique opportunity to experience the cultural, historical, and geological wonders of China while following professional paleontologists Andrew R. C. Milner (City Paleontologist, St. George, Utah) and Dr. Hai-Lu You (Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences) to explore dinosaur footprint-bearing sites at China’s first track-based national geopark in Gansu Province. Participants will also have the opportunity to visit two well-known museums holding dinosaurs in Beijing: the Beijing Natural History Museum and Chinese Paleozoological Museum; and see scenic cultural and historical attractions in Xian, where the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are located.

Who Should Attend?
Persons interested in dinosaurs and fossil birds, especially their tracks, and who desire a unique, natural history-oriented experience in China.
Tour Fee, Deposit & Payment:
US$ 2,495.00/person (double occupancy)
US$ 2,995.00/person (single occupancy)
Deposit: US$ 200.00
Deposit Deadline: April 13, 2009
Full Payment Deadline: May 13, 2009
For terms and conditions, please visit http://www.sinofossa.org/joinus-01.html.

Included in Tour Package:
All transportation within China, including transfers between airports and hotels.
Deluxe accommodations in Beijing and Xian, and clean, comfortable accommodations in Gansu.
All meals and beverages.
All tickets for sightseeing attractions throughout the trip.
Permits required to explore for and excavate dinosaur fossils.
All tools for fossil excavation, including gloves, brushes, and chisels for individual use, and equipment (e.g., pickaxes, shovels, spades, generators) and supplies (plaster, glues, burlap, etc.) for group use if necessary.
English-speaking, professional leadership.
Full pre-trip information and assistance.
Not Included in Tour Price:
Passport and visa fees.
International airfare.
Travel insurance.
Gratuities.
Laundry.
Optional two-day pre-trip sightseeing excursion in Beijing (see below).

Your Science Trip Leaders:

Andrew R. C. Milner
St. George City Paleontologist and SGDS Museum Curator
Andrew works with all scientific aspects of the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm dealing with paleontology and geology. Other research interests in southern Utah include the paleontology of the Triassic Moenkopi and Chinle formations, the Early Jurassic Moenave, Kayenta, and Navajo formations, and the Upper Cretaceous Iron Springs Formation. Andrew also works on Late Pleistocene Champlain Sea fossils from eastern North America. He lectures, provides higher educational services such as field trips, and has been a member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology since 1988. He helped establish the nation's first BLM Paleontological Site Stewardship Program in Washington County, Utah, and he continues to work with the BLM and other federal and state organizations in recording and monitoring paleontological localities in the region. In 2008, Andrew successfully co-led his first “Tracking China’s Dinosaurs” geotour.

Dr. Hai-Lu You
Institute of Geology, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences
Hai-Lu’s extensive knowledge on vertebrate paleontology, especially dinosaurs was gained through six years of Ph.D. study at University of Pennsylvania, as well as more than fifteen years of field and laboratory works on vertebrate fossils. As a lead scientist, Hai-Lu’s recent research is focusing on two projects: in search of the new evolutionary “missing links” from the Early Cretaceous of China, and the evolution of basal horned dinosaurs, in collaborating with his colleagues from Carnegie Museum of Natural History, University of Pennsylvania, Canadian Museum of Nature, and various Chinese institutions. Hai-Lu has named nine new dinosaur genera since 2003.

Itinerary:

Day 1, Beijing: arrival and welcome.
Feel free to arrive at any time of the day. We’ll meet you at the Beijing Capital International Airport, and transfer you to your hotel. We’ll celebrate your arrival with a welcome reception in the evening.

Day 2, Beijing: Beijing Natural History Museum and Chinese Paleozoological Museum.
Today, we’ll visit the Beijing Natural History Museum in the morning, and the unparalleled fossil collections of the Chinese Paleozoological Museum of the Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology (IVPP) in the afternoon. IVPP is one of the largest paleontological institutions in the world, and a global leader in the study of vertebrate fossils.

Day 3, Beijing > Xian: Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses.
Today, we’ll fly to Xian in the morning, and visit the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses in the afternoon.

Day 4, Xian > Lanzhou: Fossil Research and Development Center.
Today, we’ll fly to Lanzhou, the capital city of Gansu Province, in the morning, and in the afternoon, visit the unique dinosaur collection of the Fossil Research and Development Center of the Gansu Provincial Bureau of Geo-Exploration and Mineral Development.

Days 5-9, Liujiaxia Dinosaur National Geopark.
In these days, we’ll work at the Liujiaxia Dinosaur National Geopark, and explore the dinosaur-bearing rocks nearby*. You can spend all these days with Andrew at the footprint site, or if you like to dig, you can spend 2 of these days following Hai-Lu to dig dinosaur bones at the nearby sites. Here, a diverse and well-preserved assemblage of dinosaur (meat-eating theropod, long-necked sauropod, and plant-eating ornithopod), pterosaur, and bird tracks have been recovered from Lower Cretaceous-aged (about 130 million years ago) rocks exposed along the Yellow River. Several bizarre new dinosaurs have also been recently found in the same geological horizons, including the huge ornithopod Lanzhousaurus magnidens and the gigantic sauropod Huanghetitan liujiaxiaensis. (click http://www.sinofossa.org/readings.html to see papers on this and other related topics).

We’ll focus most of our attention on one footprint quarry, and help Andrew and Hai-Lu study these. Work at the site will include a detailed cleaning of the track surfaces, followed by the accurate mapping, photographing, and measuring of tracks, trackways, associated trace fossils, and sedimentary structures. Several unusual trackway features are preserved at this locality, and we have the opportunity to discover what kind of environment they were formed in and what behavioral implications of the animals they may represent. Our goal is to get as much information as possible in the field and publish our result in a peer reviewed journal.

Day 10, Lanzhou > Beijing.
Today, we’ll fly back to Beijing. If time allows, we’ll go shopping. We’ll enjoy Peking Duck for dinner.

Day 11, Beijing: fond farewells.
We’ll take you to the airport, guide you to your terminal, and share a final lunch together if you depart in the afternoon.
*According to Chinese laws, all fossils belong to the nation. Any and all specimens we collect will be permanently reposited in Chinese institutions.

Optional Pre-trip Two-day Sightseeing Excursion in Beijing:
To participate in this optional sightseeing excursion (which is not included in the tour prices listed above), please arrive in Beijing on Thursday, June 11, 2009.

Fees:
US$ 400.00/person (double occupancy)
US$ 500.00/person (single occupancy)

Day 1, Beijing: The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and Temple of Heaven.
We’ll visit the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square in the morning and the Temple of Heaven in the afternoon.

Day 2, Beijing: The Great Wall and Ming Tombs.
We’ll drive north, to visit the Great Wall and Ming Tombs for the entire day. In the evening, we’ll join our other participants for dinner.

Questions? Please contact:

Andrew R. C. Milner
St. George City Paleontologist
Tel: 1-435-574-3466 ext. #2
Email: amilner@sgcity.org
Web: http://www.dinotrax.com

Hai-Lu You
Institute of Geology
Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences
Cell (China): 86-13691587251
Email: youhailu@sinofossa.org

Monday, December 8, 2008

Mount Augustana

A peak in the Transantarctic Mountains has been named in honor of my former employer (Augustana College and Bill Hammer)!! It is the larger mountain in the center of this photo.


You can read more about Dr. Hammer and his work in Antarctica here.

From the Augustana College Press Release:

"A 9,000-foot peak in Antarctica has been christened Mount Augustana in honor of Dr. William R. Hammer and Augustana College.


The National Board on Geographic Names, which made the designation, describes the location of Mount Augustana as between the heads of LaPrade Valley and Cheu Valley in the northern Cumulus hills, Queen Maud Mountains.


Hammer was in the Antarctic working in this area on his first trip there in 1977-78 and again in 1995-96. He has made seven expeditions to the Antarctic. He and his team are known for discovering the first dinosaur bones ever found on the icy continent in 1991.


"Augustana College has a long history in polar and glacial geology, with strong ties to Antarctic research," said the Advisory Committee on Antarctic Names in its citation. "The Fryxell Geology Museum at Augustana College is the home of the only fossils of Cryolophosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur found to date in Antarctica."


"It is a recognition of the 30 years that I have been involved in Antarctic research," said Hammer. "Since I have been at Augustana for 26 of those 30 years it also recognizes that the college has strongly supported my work. In addition I have worked closely for those 30 years with Jim Collinson, a geologist from Ohio State who is an Augustana alum. In fact, Jim talked me into applying for this job 26 years ago."


Another long-time colleague of Hammer's nominated Mount Augustana to the National Board on Geographic Names.


"The board approves the name if they feel the person or institution has made substantial contributions to Antarctic science," said Hammer.


"Offhand, I don't know of any other Antarctic features named after a liberal arts college, but there could be a few," he added. "There are not many from liberal arts colleges working there today."


However, it's not the first time a name has linked Augustana and Antarctica. Last year the U.S. Board on Geographic Names voted to christen an ice-covered col (glacial ridge) in the Antarctic's Ellsworth Mountains as "Hammer Col" in honor of the Augustana paleontologist [see picture above: Hammer Col is high ridge coming off of the Vincent Massif which is the highest peak in the picture (it is also the highest peak in Antarctica!!)]. The col is at 12,467 feet between the Vinson Massif and the Craddock Massif in the Sentinel Range, Ellsworth Mountains. It is 1.5-miles wide and visually separates the two massifs (mountain groups) when viewed from the east or west.


Also, Hammer said, there is a Lake Fryxell in the Dry Valleys region of Antarctica near the coast (named for 1922 Augustana graduate Fritiof M. Fryxell, first chair of the department of geology) and a Lake Hoare (named for Dick Hoare, an undergraduate at Augustana who was a professor and researcher at Bowling Green State University). Those features were named in the International Geophysical year of 1957-58. Glacial geologist Dr. Troy Pewey named the lakes for Fryxell and Hoare. Pewey was a student at Augustana before doing his PhD glacial work and was one of the scientists funded for that year.


The northern slopes of Mount Augustana are rugged, largely ice-free terrain that descends 4,900 feet to McCregor Glacier. The southern part is ice-covered and descends gradually to the head of Logie Glacier.


Research seasons in Antarctica run from November-January. Hammer's last trip was in the 2003-04 season. He said he has a proposal in for another trip in either 2009-10 or 2010-11."

Story in the Quad-City Times
Another link to the story
And a link to the Chicago Tribune story

Photo courtesy of Bill Hammer

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Park Break!

Welcome to my 250th posting!! Woohoo!! Thanks to everyone for reading! :)

This week I have been posting a few job/internship notices I have seen around. I had never hear of this program before, so I thought I would pass it on since it sounds pretty cool!


The program description on their website says "Park Break is an all-expenses-paid park-based field seminar for graduate students who are thinking about a career in park management or park-related research and education. Park Break puts you in a national park unit for up to a week's worth of field and classroom activities in close collaboration with park scientists and scholars, managers and administrators, and partner organizations." Sounds pretty awesome, eh!! I wish I had known about this program when I was a grad student!

This year they are going to be working in Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve, Mount Rainier National Park, and Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area! The website goes on to say: "The primary goal of Park Break is to encourage promising graduate students to experience the challenges of managing a national park unit. Through instruction from and dialogue with park resource managers, researchers, administrators, interpreters, and other professionals, Park Break participants will begin to understand the complexity of park research and management. This unique program is not offered anywhere else, as it focuses on scientific and intellectual inquiry at the graduate level specifically related to national parks. Although Park Break is open to graduate students of all backgrounds, an additional goal of the program is to provide minority students with experience in national parks in order to facilitate future careers in the field of parks and protected areas research and management.



Each Park Break is designed around a specific topic. Not only will you explore that topic in depth, you'll see how it relates to the whole range of challenging issues facing park managers today. More than that, you'll be involved with agency personnel who are actively recruiting the best young people in the park professions.



Participants in Park Break are chosen through a competitive application process. We are now accepting applications for Park Break 2009. The deadline is December 31, 2008.



Park Break is organized by the George Wright Society, the USA's leading professional association for researchers, resource managers, administrators, educators, and other professionals who work in or on behalf of parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. GWS puts on Park Break in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey, National Park Service, Geological Society of America, Student Conservation Association, Texas A&M University, and Colorado State University."

This really sounds like a cool program, so if you are able, check it out! Then get back to me and let me know what it was like - I will be super jealous :)

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Help Amanda!

Howdy folks. We have another paleo student, Amanda, competing for a scholarship and in need of your help! If you feel like helping her out please feel free to read her post here on why she really needs this and then click on that nice green "vote" button below! Thanks for your help!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Field Work Favorites

Dave over at Geology News is hosting the November issue of the Accretionary Wedge and is looking for post on your favorite place to do field work. Now this is something I can talk about!! But it is also hard to do - I love alot of the places I have had a chance to work at. I can't pick just one place.... I can narrow it down to two. To those who know me best, this will not be a surprise: Big Bend National Park and Glacier National Park.

Big Bend is just a wonder - its such an odd place. Every plant there wants to poke, prick or stick you, and with the intention of making you bleed. Its hot. Not just hot. It can be ungodly hot - its awesome. There is really no shade there, so it is all sun, all the time, which is great! It does rain every now and then, that is true. Its remote, which it nice because it keeps your normal human away - you really have to want to go there to go there, because there is really no other reason to be in that part of the world. The general lack of humans can be nice (avoid spring break season however). All of the areas in the park I have worked are nice and off the beaten path so encounters with humans is at a nice all time low, which is always a plus. The geology though of Big Bend is just spectacular! It is everywhere and just so in your face (just like at Glacier). I think that may be one of the things that really caught my heart. Every way you look you just wonder - "now why is that there" or "what does this mean" - it really keeps your mind working IMO.






I went down to the park my first time for a spring break geology field trip in 2001 when I was an undergraduate at the University of Arkansas. It was a wonderful trip! There were these two van full of geology students and we just descended upon the place full of excitement. Many adventures took place, including having one van's fuel filter bust (the nearest parts store was about 2-3 hours away, at least), climbing the second highest peak in Texas (Emory Peak - 7,795 feet, picture) and canoeing the Rio Grande through Santa Elena Canyon. But I digress....To go on the trip you had to do the typical geology student thing and write a research paper and give a short presentation on it while you were in the park. I, naturally (as the only vert paleo student at U of AR at the time), gave my talk on the fossils known from the park. Little did I know then that this would be a big part of my future...........


When the time came to look for grad schools I found the website of Dr. Tom Lehman who teaches at Texas Tech in Lubbock. He worked on ceratopsid dinosaurs, which was something I was very interested in working on, and worked in Big Bend. I thought that sounded pretty darn good, so applied, and got in. He had a ceratopsian that needed worked on, from the Javelina Formation (late Maastrichtian), and that also sounded pretty great, so that is what I worked on. It had been excavated in 1969-1970 by Dr. Wann Langston and crew from the University of Texas at Austin and had never been worked on (other than two elements from the site figured in a thesis). I got the material from the Texas Memorial Museum and full prepared it. We also relocated the site and surface prospected (some success), then reexcavated to see if we could find more material (nada). It was a great project and I really enjoyed my time in the field, both working at my site and helping other graduate students with their field projects. I have also returned to the park several times for field work, geology/paleo trips and canoeing. It was a great time and a wonderful place to work! The result of my thesis work was recently published in the latest issue of the Journal of Paleontology.






I first went to Glacier National Park when I was still in high school (picture). From the moment I first saw the place I immediately feel in love with it! The place is just magic! It was something I thought could only exist in paintings. You just feel totally connected with nature there. Its a great place. I never thought that eight years later I would get to do something I love in a place that I love. Never in a million years did I think I would have an opportunity like that. Part of that thinking was that I knew the majority of the rocks in the park are Precambrian in age, something, at the time, I was not *that* interested in, fossil wise. As grad school was finishing, I was pretty exhausted and looking for something to do. A GeoCorps position at Glacier was listed and I really felt like the job posting had been written for someone like me. So I applied. Immediately. And called them. And stayed on it until I found out I had the job. The job was to write a paleontology report on the fossils known from the park. I was excited to get the job and drove right into my work when I got there. I did an intensive literature search and started to try and relocate old fossil localities first identified by Walcott and others from the early part of the 1900's. I got to go to some really beautiful places in search of these fossils.


The fossils mostly include billion year old stromatolites, with the rare eucaryote (
Horodyskia moniliformis), and the occasional Cretaceous bivalve thrown in for good measure. Along the way I found some new sites and documented many of the old locations. The shear number of fossils in Glacier in mind boggling (even if they are almost all stromatolites - they are still cool!)! If you know what you are looking for you can see them all over the place. Huge long bioherms, colorful red and green laminated hunks, and circular cross sections are some of the more common you will see.


And in the process of working in Glacier I discovered that I can work on things outside of my comfort zone! I learned more working those 4 short months in the park that I have in a long while I think. It was excited to dive into something new and different and I developed a good skill for that type of project which has led me to continue writing and developing these types of reports for different National Park Service networks. To date I have written the Pacific Islands, Great Lakes, and Heartlands Network Paleontology Resource Reports and just recently started to work on my 4th Network Report on the Cumberland Piedmont Network! I only wish the network reports had a field component like Glacier did!


You can see some of my past post on the Geology of Glacier here (and here, here, here, and here).

Update on the "Stolen" Dinosaur Tracks

Here is an update on the "stolen" tracks...

Hi folks,

I have new information for everyone on this. First of all, thanks for everyone's comments, concerns, etc! Ive contacted the auction house, have spoken with the owner of this track slab, and will be contacting the land owner. Turns out that several loads of rock from land north of the museum (now SGDS property) were transported to another property about a mile away. SGDS staff and volunteers were collecting from these rock piles about two years ago. Since that time, the former land owner who is one of our foundation members and donors has sold the land. Tracks were found there by the new land owners while moving rocks around, and they have sold specimens. A paper trail is being provided, and I'm going to talk to people involved about donating the tracks to our museum for possible tax right-offs. I'm also hoping to obtain photographs of specimens they find so that I have a record of what they've found and no one is falsely accused of doing anything wrong. No one ever accused anyone in this case, although some may have misinterpreted/assumed I was saying otherwise.

Turns out I don't have photos of the specimen up for auction, although it does look very much like another example we have from the same stratigraphic unit. The specimen owner is going to email me photos of others that he has. I'm hoping that it might be retracted from the auction somehow. One of my growing concerns is that seeing tracks from SGDS properties for sale, even though in this case the specimen doesn't belong to the City of St. George and the owner has the legal right to sell it, will tempt people to steal more tracks and vandalize tracksites/specimens to make a "fast buck". As I mentioned before, this has happened on at least two occasions in the past year.

Anyhow, everything's good between all parties and no hard feelings. Happy to see that people involved clearly understand where I was coming from and my concerns, and they seem to respect it!

We do have a list of stolen tracks and I'm hoping to post those on the internet one of these days so we can try and "track" them down. ;)

Thanks for listening!
Andrew

On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess : The Totally Hot December Scientiae

Check out this months On Becoming a Domestic and Laboratory Goddess : The Totally Hot December Scientiae

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Stolen Dinosaur Tracks?

I would like to pass this message on from Andrew Milner, who is the St. George [Utah] City Paleontologist and St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm Museum Curator. This is very sad and disturbing to see more fossils up for auction, especially when they are taken from private land illegally [suspected in this case]. Please feel free to pass this along!

Hi folks,

Dr. Martin Lockley from the Dinosaur Tracks Museum at the University of Colorado at Denver sent me a link to an auction site where some theropod dinosaur footprints are for sale next month. His message simply says, "St. George Theropod tracks for sale!!!!"

Here's the link:

http://historical.ha.com/common/view_item.php?SaleNo=6012&LotIdNo=8001&txtSearch=&hdnSearch=true


There is very little doubt in my mind that this particular specimen was stolen from across the street from the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm museum (SGDS) from one of four track surfaces we call the Stewart-Walker Tracksites. To top it off, this specimen looks very familiar to us. Good thing we have detailed descriptions and photographic records of all specimens found exposed on private and City of St. George properties around the museum, so it shouldn't take us too long to figure out if the specimen in question was stolen. If it was then we can do something about it. By the way, we have had a few thefts and vandalisms in the last couple of years.

Don't know if everyone knows this, but they should. If fossils were collected from private land without the landowners permission then it is theft and trespassing. All of the properties around the SGDS museum are private properties or belong the City of St. George. The SGDS are the only ones with permission to collect from these surrounding properties. You should also know that collecting or replicating vertebrate traces fossils (vertebrate body fossils as well) is illegal on federal and state lands if you don't hold a permit.

Sorry for posting this, but it really upsets me when scientifically significant fossils like the one for auction go missing, and when most likely it is from the site we have all worked so hard to protect! Why protect it? Simply for research and public education purposes, and to preserve it for future generation to observe, enjoy, and study. The SGDS is one of a kind and cannot be duplicated! By the way, one of the track types on this block is extremely rare and we are presently describing them in detail.

Please feel free to pass this along to others and/or post it on groups, listservers, etc.

Thanks
Andrew R. C. Milner
St. George City Paleontologist and SGDS Curator

The 5-56 Meme

Brian over at Laelaps tagged me for this book meme. The rules are that you have to pick 10 books (of whatever genre, chosen any way you see fit) and transcribe the 5th sentence on page 56 of each book. Here are my books - can you guess where the passages came from?

  1. "He came alongside my boat and told me the flats was still closed."
  2. "The problem that concerns us here is one that has received little consideration: What happens to those incredibly numerous and vitally necessary inhabitants of the soil when poisonous chemicals are carried down into their world, either introduced directly as soil "sterilants" or borne on the rain that has picked up a lethal contamination as it filters through the leaf canopy or forest and orchard and cropland?"
  3. "Such elevations are common on large neoceratopsian squamosals, Centrosaurus and Chasmosaurus usually displaying two or more."
  4. "So the world of the Late Triassic had some of the same groups as we see in the Morrioson Formation but overall was rather diffrent."
  5. "Their huge heads, bristling with sharp spikes and luxuriant bony frills, their solid, four-legged bodies, all suggest rhinoceros-like body plans run amok in the Cretaceous."
  6. "The ossified braincase (better preserved in related forms from the later Devonian) was a relatively long and slender structure, conrasting in shape with that of arthrodires."
  7. "He didn't phone, but two days later she was out walking with a friend when they bumped into Ed, who was on a training run."
  8. "The buckeye, light as it was, felt like it weighed a hundred pounds."
  9. "In Walcott's time, the slate of Precambian life was absolutely blank."
  10. "The rock of the fossil is shaped, down to the tiniest detail, like the original bone."
I tag Silver Fox (when she gets back from her trip), Traumador, Laura, Zach and I owe one to Amanda ;)