White River Badlands on Shalimar Ranch
The weather was great when I arrived on the ranch! My first day in the field I had a chance to work with one of the students to remove a beautiful Oreodont skull and arm. This student, one of the geology department majors (we often have non geology majors on the trip) did the right thing. He found a skull and instead of trying to excavate it on his own, he came and found one of the instructors so we could show him how to properly excavate the specimen. I wish I had taken more pictures of the entire process, but here is a picture of the skull before we removed it.
I did not find too much this year. Many [fossil] turtles (tons of turtles in this area), occasional disarticulated mammal postcrania, and quite a few dentaries and isolated teeth (some pictures below of some of the random things I collected). The stuff I collected last year was pretty cool [picture].
The ranch has received a higher than usual amount of rain this past year and there were quite a few horney toads out and even a few frogs! Only one rattlesnake was spotted this year.
Due to all the moisture there were some great mudcracks in the flats (see my new blog background). I got caught up in photographing them which was great when last week I had a chance to see a Jurassic example of curled mudcracks, very similar to what I saw in the field while on the ranch.
Unfortunately, after two full days in the field we got rained out. It rained more in Harrison in one day than it had in the past 9 years (according to the local bar talk). It soaked everything. Several of the students tents quickly became small swimming pools, and I located a new hole in my tent rainfly. And of course it was located directly above my sleeping bag (lucky for me I have a waterproof bag!). Some quick improvising led me to use a car window sun shade to deflect the drips until I could get home and buy a patch. What did I learn from this (and another large hole I found in the tent itself) - never loan your tent out.
During a brief stop in the rain
The rest of the trip was spent visiting the Black Hills, Agate Fossils Beds National Monument, and Fort Robinson State Park, generally dodging the rain. It was a great trip. I hope we get a chance to return to the ranch next year!
At Agate Fossils Beds National Monument
© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster. Please see the "Field Work Friday Rules" about the work I do and collection practicies.