Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Mygatt-Moore Quarry Photos

These past few weeks we have been spending quite a bit of time working out in the Late Jurassic Mygatt-Moore Quarry. This quarry is located in the middle Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation, in western Colorado. The most abundant dinosaur taxon at the quarry is the theropod Allosaurus (29%), which is represented by 6 individuals (5 adults, 1 juvenile); in addition, more than 190 mostly shed teeth of Allosaurus have been recovered from the site. The sauropod Apatosaurus is next most abundant (20%) with 5 individuals known from this site (3 adults, 1 sub-adult, 1 juvenile). Approximately 19% of the sample consists of bones of the ankylosaur Mymoorapelta, mostly osteoderms and lateral spines (2 individuals). The three most abundant sauropods in the Morrison Formation (Camarasaurus, Apatosaurus, and Diplodocus) also are preserved at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry, but unlike within the formation as a whole, at the MMQ Apatosaurus accounts for 85% of the sauropod bones at the site; in the formation overall, Camarasaurus is the most abundant sauropod.

I had the privilege of working at the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in 2007 as the Field Coordinator for the Museum of Western Colorado's Dinosaur Journey Museum in Fruita, Colorado. This week I have finally had a chance to load some of my pictures fron this season and last season. The majority of these pictures are from the summer of 2007 when we removed a sauropod tibia and several vertebrae (among many other things!). Some of the pictures towards the end of the section are from the end of the 2008 field season as we removed a sauropod vertebra (actually we removed two but we only have photos of one of the efforts) and prepare to remove a sauropod scapulocoracoid.

Enjoy the pictures!

Sunday, September 28, 2008


John and I are going trilobite hunting this week at Spence Gulch (Langston Formation, Spence Shale Member, Middle Cambrian), Idaho! Walcott even collected these agnostid trilobites from this location and named the Spence Shale. Its is always fun to be where he has been. It should be fun to spend a few days outside and get to camp one more time at least before the weather gets cooler. Spence Gulch is located in southeastern Idaho near the town of Liberty and we originally found out about the site from the Geo-Tools website. We contacted the owners of the website and a few others, but either no one returned our emails or did not know where the site was, so we decided to wing it. The land is on National Forest Service property, so that was one good thing to find out. Google earth showed us where we wanted to go so we tried to locate the site on our way back from our honeymoon last month. Unfortunatly we could not find it using the Google maps instructions we had (which reminded us of this). We stopped off at Fossil Butte and spoke with a friend we knew would be in the know, and he was able to draw us a map. So off we go! Hopefully we will come home with a nice Achlysopsis (pictured, link) or Zacanthoides idahoensis!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

15th annual National Public Lands Day

Today is your National Public Lands Day! This is "the nation’s largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance the public lands Americans enjoy. In 2007, 110,000 volunteers built trails and bridges, planted trees and plants, and removed trash and invasive plants" [link].

As the National Environmental Education Foundation explains it, the threefold purpose of National Public Lands Day program is to:
• Educate Americans about critical environmental and natural resources issues and the need for shared stewardship of valued, irreplaceable lands;
• Build partnerships between the public sector and local communities based on mutual interests in the enhancement and restoration of America's public lands; and
• Improve public lands for outdoor recreation, with volunteers assisting land managers in hands-on work.

What does that mean?
Free admission to all your National Parks! You do not have to participate in the volunteering events but it is appreciated if you have the time and interest.

For more information about National Public Lands Day projects in the national parks, contact Public Affairs Specialist Kathy Kupper (phone 202-208-6843) in the Office of the Director. If you’re interested in helping at a local national park, check the park’s website for relevant information or give them a call. They’d love to hear from you.

See the official site here and the National Parks Traveler for more information.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

"Dinosaur Frauds, Hoaxes & “Frankensteins”

Check out the newest issue of the Journal of Paleontological Techniques! It features an article entitled "Dinosaur Frauds, Hoaxes and “Frankensteins”: How to distinguish fake and genuine vertebrate fossils" by Octávio Mateus, Marvin Overbeeke, and Francisco Rita. This article is freely available for download on the JPT website [link].

Abstract: "Dinosaurs and other fossils have been artificially enhanced, or totally forged, to increase their commercial value. The most problematic forgeries to detect are based on original fossils that are artificially assembled. Several techniques are suggested for detecting hoaxes: detailed visual examination, chemical analysis, X-ray or CT-scan, and ultraviolet light.

It is recommended that museums and paleontological researchers do not purchase and/or trade fossils lacking clear provenience information. Exceptions to that general rule should be closely examined using techniques described herein."

The journal is also actively looking for submissions! [link]

Thanks to Jerry for the heads up!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

You can’t flush your toilet with a fossil

Good grief! Check out this editorial from the Colorado Springs Gazette [link]:

"Reservoir opponents have rocks in their heads

If you thought dealing with Puebloans was tough, you haven’t gotten down in the mud with a paleontologist. Don’t let the pith helmets, rumpled safari shirts and Coke-bottle glasses fool you; with federal environmental laws on their side, they can be tougher than they look.

Tough enough to derail a reservoir project critical to this city’s future? We’ll see.

As if Colorado Springs Utilities didn’t have enough problems building the Southern Delivery System, someone with Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science claims that there’s a “regionally and globally significant” fossil trove where the Jimmy Camp Creek Reservoir is supposed to go. It includes petrified trees and fossils of early mammals.

Kirk Johnson, chief curator and vice president of research and collections at Denver’s Museum of Nature and Science, has sent a letter to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, strongly encouraging “decision makers to consider alternate sites for the proposed reservoir.” And the bureau is required by law to take such requests seriously, given the fetish federal agencies make of the “public process” and of assessing every conceivable environmental impact.

Problem is, Colorado Springs Utilities has spent $6.4 million buying 400 of the 1,874 acres required for the reservoir, and must before long decide whether to spend many millions more acquiring the rest. Colorado Springs needs somewhere to store the water it plans to pipe up from Pueblo. And it’s absurd to have all this jeopardized by the presence of some petrified logs.

CSU’s Gary Bostrum told The Gazette that there’s an alternative site, the Upper Williams Creek Reservoir, if this becomes an insurmountable obstacle. But what “rare” animal or plant species, “globally significant” fossils or “important” archaeological sites might be found along upper Williams Creek if one looks hard enough? And can’t similar issues be raised about any other site one chooses?

The answer isn’t in trying to stay one step ahead of the obstructionists. That’s futile. It’s in confronting them, telling them they must be out of their minds — and in reminding people of all that they have to lose if such absurdities prevail and we don’t get our priorities straight.

For this city, at this point in time — and given how much is riding on this project’s success or failure — a place to store water is much more important than safeguarding a glorified gravel pit. And the needs of the people must in this case trump those of the paleontologists.

If federal law says otherwise, federal law is absurd and should be modified or overturned.

These fossils may or may not be as important as Johnson says. But if they’ve survived 65 million years of geologic upheaval, they’ll survive the relatively short-term presence of a reservoir. The needs of the living must take precedence.

You can’t drink a fossil, wash with a fossil, flush your toilet with a fossil. For this and more, water is critical. And if we don’t show a little more common sense, and a stronger instinct for survival, we’ll be the lost civilization future archeologists will be sifting through, wondering what went wrong."

I can tell you what went wrong. Humans could not adapt and over populated their planet while not taking car eof their limited resources.

Thanks to Margaret for the heads up on this one.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Paleontological Resources Preservation Act

Thinking back to last weeks news of fossil theft on public lands I want to remind everyone that the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (HR 554 - McGovern MA) is still out in congress and needs to be address, not ignored and put off till hell freezes over.

This bill does not effect private land or private collections, as some fear. It does say that rare and scientifically important paleo resources found in the public domain should continue to be the property of all Americans. I understand that "amateur" fossil collectors are worries that it is going to take away their privileges, but it doesn't. It still allows for the collection of common fossil invertebrates and plants on public land, just like you can today. It will make the laws more clear and uniformed as to what can and can't be collected on public land. Do remember: this is not a bill to prohibit the sell of fossils. It does not say that you can not collect and/or sell fossils from private land. The bill is ensuring that fossils in the public sector will remain there for future generations to enjoy. It is trying to encourage partnership between everyone in the paleontology community.

The public opinion on this bill seems a little off to me. You can read some of the public comments here and see how people have been voting on their view of this bill (you can also vote, please see the poll to the right).

I would love to get everyone's opinions on this. What do you like about this bill? What do you dislike about the bill?

Lets dissect the bill (which you can read for yourself here; comments in green are my own. IF you do not want to wade though all this please scroll to the bottom of this post and read my final point.):

Section 2 of HR 554 offers and clarifies some definitions:

  • (1) CASUAL COLLECTING- The term `casual collecting' means the collecting of a reasonable amount of common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources for non-commercial personal use, either by surface collection or the use of non-powered hand tools resulting in only negligible disturbance to the Earth's surface and other resources. As used in this paragraph, the terms `reasonable amount', `common invertebrate and plant paleontological resources' and `negligible disturbance' shall be determined by the Secretary.
  • (6) PALEONTOLOGICAL RESOURCE- The term `paleontological resource' means any fossilized remains, traces, or imprints of organisms, preserved in or on the earth's crust, that are of paleontological interest and that provide information about the history of life on earth, except that the term does not include--
        (A) any materials associated with an archaeological resource (as defined in section 3(1) of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (16 U.S.C. 470bb(1)); or
        (B) any cultural item (as defined in section 2 of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (25 U.S.C. 3001)).
Section 3 clarifies the management issue of fossils found on federal land:

  • In General- The Secretary [of the Interior] shall manage and protect paleontological resources on Federal lands using scientific principles and expertise. The Secretary shall develop appropriate plans for inventory, monitoring, and the scientific and educational use of paleontological resources, in accordance with applicable agency laws, regulations, and policies. These plans shall emphasize interagency coordination and collaborative efforts where possible with non-Federal partners, the scientific community, and the general public.
Section 4 would see the Secretary of the Interior establish a program to increase public awareness about the significance of paleontological resources. That is a great idea! Why would anyone disagree with this?

Section 5 talks about the collection of fossils on public lands:

(a) Permit Requirement -
      (1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in this Act, a paleontological resource may not be collected from Federal lands without a permit issued under this Act by the Secretary.
      (2) CASUAL COLLECTING EXCEPTION- The Secretary may allow casual collecting without a permit on Federal lands controlled or administered by the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, and the Forest Service, where such collection is consistent with the laws governing the management of those Federal lands and this Act. (So how is this different from now and why are people all worked up over it?)
      (3) PREVIOUS PERMIT EXCEPTION- Nothing in this section shall affect a valid permit issued prior to the date of enactment of this Act.
    (b) Criteria for Issuance of a Permit- The Secretary may issue a permit for the collection of a paleontological resource pursuant to an application if the Secretary determines that--
      (1) the applicant is qualified to carry out the permitted activity;
      (2) the permitted activity is undertaken for the purpose of furthering paleontological knowledge or for public education;
      (3) the permitted activity is consistent with any management plan applicable to the Federal lands concerned; and
      (4) the proposed methods of collecting will not threaten significant natural or cultural resources.
    (c) Permit Specifications- A permit for the collection of a paleontological resource issued under this section shall contain such terms and conditions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act. Every permit shall include requirements that--
      (1) the paleontological resource that is collected from Federal lands under the permit will remain the property of the United States;
      (2) the paleontological resource and copies of associated records will be preserved for the public in an approved repository, to be made available for scientific research and public education; and
      (3) specific locality data will not be released by the permittee or repository without the written permission of the Secretary.
    (d) Modification, Suspension, and Revocation of Permits-
      (1) The Secretary may modify, suspend, or revoke a permit issued under this section--
        (A) for resource, safety, or other management considerations; or
        (B) when there is a violation of term or condition of a permit issued pursuant to this section.
      (2) The permit shall be revoked if any person working under the authority of the permit is convicted under section 7 or is assessed a civil penalty under section 8.
    (e) Area Closures- In order to protect paleontological or other resources and to provide for public safety, the Secretary may restrict access to or close areas under the Secretary's jurisdiction to the collection of paleontological resources.
As far as keeping our federal resources within the country (c1), what is wrong with that? I say great! Other countries such as Argentina have these same requirements. c3 just gives more protection to the resource and its locality.

Section 6 speaks of the curation for the resources:
  • Any paleontological resource, and any data and records associated with the resource, collected under a permit, shall be deposited in an approved repository. The Secretary may enter into agreements with non-Federal repositories regarding the curation of these resources, data, and records.
Is this not what we already do? This, once again, sounds like a great idea to me.

Section 7 talks about prohibited acts and the criminal penalties associated with them:

    (a) In General- A person may not--
      (1) excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface or attempt to excavate, remove, damage, or otherwise alter or deface any paleontological resources located on Federal lands unless such activity is conducted in accordance with this Act;
      (2) exchange, transport, export, receive, or offer to exchange, transport, export, or receive any paleontological resource if, in the exercise of due care, the person knew or should have known such resource to have been excavated or removed from Federal lands in violation of any provisions, rule, regulation, law, ordinance, or permit in effect under Federal law, including this Act; or
      (3) sell or purchase or offer to sell or purchase any paleontological resource if, in the exercise of due care, the person knew or should have known such resource to have been excavated, removed, sold, purchased, exchanged, transported, or received from Federal lands.
    (b) False Labeling Offenses- A person may not make or submit any false record, account, or label for, or any false identification of, any paleontological resource excavated or removed from Federal lands.
    (c) Penalties- A person who knowingly violates or counsels, procures, solicits, or employs another person to violate subsection (a) or (b) shall, upon conviction, be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both; but if the sum of the commercial and paleontological value of the paleontological resources involved and the cost of restoration and repair of such resources does not exceed $500, such person shall be fined in accordance with title 18, United States Code, or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
    (d) General Exception- Nothing in subsection (a) shall apply to any person with respect to any paleontological resource which was in the lawful possession of such person prior to the date of the enactment of this Act.
Section 7a1, is EXACTLY what happened to the Hanksville-Burpee site! Section 7b is a wonderful addition. This will get you fired in most places (or it should if you know you are doing it and it is wrong) and is known to have happened in the past*. It would be nice to have a law that would actually deal with these offenses with the appropriate penalties.

*(one well publicized case from 2005/2006 where a geology professor was alleged to be doing these types of practices comes to mind. Does anyone know if there was ever a finding in this case from the SVP ethics board or the museum in question?).

Section 8 talks about the civil penalties:
(a) In General-
      (1) HEARING- A person who violates any prohibition contained in an applicable regulation or permit issued under this Act may be assessed a penalty by the Secretary after the person is given notice and opportunity for a hearing with respect to the violation. Each violation shall be considered a separate offense for purposes of this section.
      (2) AMOUNT OF PENALTY- The amount of such penalty assessed under paragraph (1) shall be determined under regulations promulgated pursuant to this Act, taking into account the following factors:
        (A) The scientific or fair market value, whichever is greater, of the paleontological resource involved, as determined by the Secretary.
        (B) The cost of response, restoration, and repair of the resource and the paleontological site involved.
        (C) Any other factors considered relevant by the Secretary assessing the penalty.
      (3) MULTIPLE OFFENSES- In the case of a second or subsequent violation by the same person, the amount of a penalty assessed under paragraph (2) may be doubled.
      (4) LIMITATION- The amount of any penalty assessed under this subsection for any one violation shall not exceed an amount equal to double the cost of response, restoration, and repair of resources and paleontological site damage plus double the scientific or fair market value of resources destroyed or not recovered.
    (b) Petition for Judicial Review; Collection of Unpaid Assessments-
      (1) JUDICIAL REVIEW- Any person against whom an order is issued assessing a penalty under subsection (a) may file a petition for judicial review of the order in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia or in the district in which the violation is alleged to have occurred within the 30-day period beginning on the date the order making the assessment was issued. Upon notice of such filing, the Secretary shall promptly file such a certified copy of the record on which the order was issued. The court shall hear the action on the record made before the Secretary and shall sustain the action if it is supported by substantial evidence on the record considered as a whole.
      (2) FAILURE TO PAY- If any person fails to pay a penalty under this section within 30 days--
        (A) after the order making assessment has become final and the person has not filed a petition for judicial review of the order in accordance with paragraph (1); or
        (B) after a court in an action brought in paragraph (1) has entered a final judgment upholding the assessment of the penalty, the Secretary may request the Attorney General to institute a civil action in a district court of the United States for any district in which the person if found, resides, or transacts business, to collect the penalty (plus interest at currently prevailing rates from the date of the final order or the date of the final judgment, as the case may be). The district court shall have jurisdiction to hear and decide any such action. In such action, the validity, amount, and appropriateness of such penalty shall not be subject to review. Any person who fails to pay on a timely basis the amount of an assessment of a civil penalty as described in the first sentence of this paragraph shall be required to pay, in addition to such amount and interest, attorneys fees and costs for collection proceedings.
    (c) Hearings- Hearings held during proceedings instituted under subsection (a) shall be conducted in accordance with section 554 of title 5, United States Code.
    (d) Use of Recovered Amounts- Penalties collected under this section shall be available to the Secretary and without further appropriation may be used only as follows:
      (1) To protect, restore, or repair the paleontological resources and sites which were the subject of the action, or to acquire sites with equivalent resources, and to protect, monitor, and study the resources and sites. Any acquisition shall be subject to any limitations contained in the organic legislation for such Federal lands.
      (2) To provide educational materials to the public about paleontological resources and sites.
      (3) To provide for the payment of rewards as provided in section 9.
Once you wade through all the jargon, section 8 seems fair. Am I incorrect?

Section 9 talks about rewards and forfeiture.
Section 10 talks about confidentiality:
  • Information concerning the nature and specific location of a paleontological resource the collection of which requires a permit under this Act or under any other provision of Federal law shall be exempt from disclosure under section 552 of title 5, United States Code, and any other law unless the Secretary determines that disclosure would--
      (1) further the purposes of this Act;
      (2) not create risk of harm to or theft or destruction of the resource or the site containing the resource; and
      (3) be in accordance with other applicable laws.
Section 11 explains the regulations: "As soon as practical after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue such regulations as are appropriate to carry out this Act, providing opportunities for public notice and comment."
Section 12 gives savings provisions:
  • Nothing in this Act shall be construed to--
      (1) invalidate, modify, or impose any additional restrictions or permitting requirements on any activities permitted at any time under the general mining laws, the mineral or geothermal leasing laws, laws providing for minerals materials disposal, or laws providing for the management or regulation of the activities authorized by the aforementioned laws including but not limited to the Federal Land Policy Management Act (43 U.S.C. 1701-1784), Public Law 94-429 (commonly known as the `Mining in the Parks Act') (16 U.S.C. 1901 et seq.), the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. 1201-1358), and the Organic Administration Act (16 U.S.C. 478, 482, 551);
      (2) invalidate, modify, or impose any additional restrictions or permitting requirements on any activities permitted at any time under existing laws and authorities relating to reclamation and multiple uses of Federal lands;
      (3) apply to, or require a permit for, casual collecting of a rock, mineral, or invertebrate or plant fossil that is not protected under this Act;
      (4) affect any lands other than Federal lands or affect the lawful recovery, collection, or sale of paleontological resources from lands other than Federal lands;
      (5) alter or diminish the authority of a Federal agency under any other law to provide protection for paleontological resources on Federal lands in addition to the protection provided under this Act; or
      (6) create any right, privilege, benefit, or entitlement for any person who is not an officer or employee of the United States acting in that capacity. No person who is not an officer or employee of the United States acting in that capacity shall have standing to file any civil action in a court of the United States to enforce any provision or amendment made by this Act.
Aren't 3 and 4 of section 12 what some folks are worried the result of this bill will be? That any kid will not be able to collect a fossil from their land or some other private land? I would hope this would be a thing people would be happy about.


I guess this is the point where you make a decission. I would like to encourage you to write your representative regarding the bill so they know that folks are at least interested in it, and to try to get it moving again in congress. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology is in support of this bill, and if you are also, you can download a model letter here to send to your Senator and Representative here.

If you are not sure who your representative is you can use the search function here (upper left hand side).

Monday, September 22, 2008

Flooding in Big Bend National Park

Big Bend National Park is near and dear to me. It was the place I did my masters thesis research at and one of my favorite places on earth. All of the recent wet weather in Texas has generally turned the state pretty soggy, but now, of all places, Big Bend is experiencing some flooding! From the National Parks Traveler website (picture is also from NPT):

"...Heavy rains in northern Mexico and western Texas during the past several weeks have resulted in flooding along the Rio Grande, which forms the park's southern boundary for 118 miles. At risk are park facilities near the river, the entire wild population of an endangered species of fish, and historic resources—along with the upcoming visitor season in these lower elevation areas of the park, which normally runs from fall to spring.......

At Rio Grande Village, where flood stage is 13.0 feet, the river crested on Sunday, September 21, at 24.78 feet. At 20 feet, flooding of the campground begins to occur, and at 25 feet, major flooding of the campground and store are a threat. Readings on the USGS gauge Monday morning stood at 24.38 feet, and the river is predicted to fall slowly during the rest of the week, although it is expected to remain above flood stage for the rest of the month.......

At Castolon, upstream from Rio Grande Village, flood stage is 15.0 feet, and major flooding of Cottonwood Campground and area roads occurs when the river reaches 19.0 feet. The Rio Grande crested at 23.1 feet on Saturday, September 20, and had begun a slow fall to 22.21 feet Monday morning. The river is still expected to be above flood stage at the end of this week.

Any additional rainfall in this vast watershed over the next few weeks could have major impacts on this situation, but the other wild card is an extensive levee system upstream from the park, near the town of Presidio. The National Weather Service reported this morning that water was topping the levees at the southern end of the Presidio levee system. Any levee breaches or failures could cause dramatic changes to the currently forecast river levels....."

Read the entire National Parks Traveler article here.

Check out the daily report for today's river levels.

Just think of all that erosion!!! Hmmm.........new things to find :)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Burgess Shale. The Band. and paleo themed songs...

Thats right, there is a band named Burgess Shale! I found their CD the other night when I was rifling though CD's during John's radio show. They have several interesting songs on their CD "Its Never Enough, Is It?" According to a review I found on them: "If you want to get the music, you've got to listen to it. The lyrics mean something, and represent a commentary of the current lack of rational thinking in virtually all aspects of American society. For example, the song "No Duh" asks the question: Where does Dick Cheney disappear to when Homeland Stupidity issues a Severe Alert [LMAO]. Likewise, the aptly titled "The Moron Song" is about you know who [LMAO again]. "Lucky Punk" looks at the complacent response to our diminishing civil rights with the passing of the Patriot Act. "Shrunken Heads" casts some responsibility of the dumbing down of America's thinking on a media that cares more about reactions and ratings that providing real information. Finally, "Going Extinct" notes that the real weapon of mass destruction is "the thing between your ears." [link]

And this is the song I find very entertaining (somewhat surprising)! The band explains a bit about the song on their website:

About this song: There is great comfort in knowing that if the modern human race's time on earth is measured against infinity, we don't exist and are already extinct...but maybe some of us want to leave a fossil record that we can be proud of...good luck...the thing of mass destruction is the thing between our ears.

'Going Extinct' lyrics

I'm afraid of evolution if it keeps its current course
I know you think we're getting smarter when in fact we're getting worse.
Because we have some cool technology like e- bombs and cell phones
You know it doesn't mean our thinking has advanced beyond the age of sticks and stones.

I'm not sure if I will ever see the light again, I was a happy hominid
but now I'm not
I want to leave a fossil record that my family can be proud of,
Digging down, digging down, digging down, underground, here,
I want to see where I'll be found.

I'm not sure if you'll ever get a clue because
you need to mark your territory in everything you do
You'd rather piss on this and piss that and piss on your own welcome mat
Let everybody know that you'll go tit for tat.

This time it won't be asteroids or other natural things
We're in a modern mass extinction from the genius that you bring
And this has never really happened in five hundred million years
Because the thing of mass destruction is the thing between your ears.

Walking with a big erection doesn't mean walking erect,
you couldn't make it as Neanderthal and now you're something less.
Instead of reaching for the stars you're always reaching for your crotch, and
on the evolutionary scale each year you drop a notch. (There you go again.)

I'm not sure if I will ever see the light again,
I was a happy camper then but now I'm not
I bought a lot of plastic sheeting eighty rolls of silver duct tape,
Digging down, digging down, digging down, underground, here,
there's fear and loathing all around.

I'm not sure if you'll ever figure out that in the way you keep your
friendships throw a tantrum start to pout
You always piss on this and piss that and a swing a great big baseball bat
Let everybody know that you will throw them to the mat.

This time it won't be asteroids or other natural things
We're in a modern mass extinction from
the genius that you bring
And this has never really happened in five hundred million years
Because the thing of mass destruction is the thing between your ears.

We're all not going to heaven and
there's not such thing as hell
We'll be refined in someone's gasoline
or end up burgess shale.
Because we're nothing more than trilobites
who've learned to entertain
And we're distinguished from the animals
because we go insane.

I'm not sure if you will ever see the light again,
I thought we were evolving but I guess we're not
I want to leave a fossil record so my family can be proud,
Digging down, down, down, digging down, underground,
here, I want to see where I'll be found.

I'm not sure if you'll ever get a clue because
you need to mark your territory in everything you do
You'd rather piss on this and piss that and piss on your own welcome mat
Let everybody know you'll bite the head off of a rat.

This time it won't be asteroids or other natural things
We're in a modern mass extinction from the genius that you bring
And this has really never happened in five hundred million years
Because the thing of mass destruction is the thing between your ears.

So you can go back go back go back down,
you need to crawl back to the swampy waters try this thing again
So you can go back go back crawl back underground
you need to find some cute bacteria and make new DNA

You need to go back go back go back home.

Wow, eh!? What are some other paleo-themed songs you can think of? Lets try to make a list here......

  • Walk the Dinosaur - Was (Not Was)
  • Mammal - They Might Be Giants
  • King of Pain - the Police
  • Walking in your footsteps - The Police
  • Jurassic Park is frightening in the dark - Weird Al Yankovic
I know I am forgetting a TON of these...someone help me out!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Update on the Montana "alleged" fossils theift story

Another story was published yesterday regarding the "alleged" theft of a small theropod skeleton in Montana. Portions of it can be found below and you can read the entire story here. I also encourage you to read some of the enlightening and interesting comments my previous blog story has received.

From the Billing Gazette:

Colleague takes digs at paleontologist
Texas curator stands by fossil Leonardo - but not by man who discovered it
By Ed Kemmick of The Gazette Staff

Montana's most famous dinosaur fossil soon will go on display in Texas unaffected by criminal charges against the paleontologist who discovered it, a museum official said.

Bob Bakker, curator of paleontology for the Houston Museum of Natural Science, said everything related to the discovery, excavation and preparation of the duckbill dinosaur nicknamed Leonardo was scientifically sound and well-documented.

Montana paleontologist Nate Murphy, who led the dig when Leonardo was discovered north of Malta in 2000, was charged last week with felony theft of a small raptor fossil.

The other good news from Houston, Bakker said, is that Leonardo wasn't damaged by Hurricane Ike, which battered Houston and the Gulf Coast over the weekend.

"Leo is safe," Bakker said. "That is the important thing. The whole museum did quite well."

The exhibition, "Dinosaur Mummy CSI: Cretaceous Science Investigation," was scheduled to open Friday. Because of Hurricane Ike, the opening probably will be delayed a couple of days, Bakker said.

The theft charges, filed in Phillips County, allege that Murphy stole the raptor fossil, which when alive weighed about as much as a red fox, from property owned by Bruce Bruckner and leased to Howard and JoAnn Hammond, on whose land Leonardo was discovered in 2000.

In an article in the Great Falls Tribune last week, Murphy said the whole thing was simply a misunderstanding. He said he and his son found the raptor under a fossilized turtle and didn't even realize the raptor was there at first.

The charging documents say Murphy initially told the Hammonds that the raptor in question was another specimen found near Saco.

Bakker, who has been cooperating with the state since it began investigating the case in June 2007, said he was told by Murphy that only a few raptor fragments were found on the land the Hammonds leased from Bruckner, and that the more complete raptor fossil was discovered near Saco and was entirely owned by the Judith River Foundation. The foundation owned the Judith River Dinosaur Field Station in Malta, where Murphy was the director of paleontology.

Bakker said Saturday that he was upset that Murphy continued to portray the incident as a misunderstanding. He said the discovery of the raptor on the Bruckner property was thoroughly documented with photographs, field notes and Global Positioning System data, and that there is no question that only one raptor was found.

"In this case, the ethical violation was clear-cut," Bakker said. "The documentation of the digging of the raptor was very complete."

Regardless of whether Murphy intended to profit from claiming ownership of the raptor fossil, Bakker said, he committed "one of the mortal sins of museum work" by "falsifying locality data."

"That will get you fired anywhere," Bakker said.

It is important to establish location not only in regard to ownership and compensation, Bakker said. From a scientific standpoint, much of the value of a specimen is lost if scientists don't know where it was found. That has become even more important in recent years with the increasing emphasis on ecological paleontology, he added.

Murphy, reached Monday in Billings, where he owns a cleaning-supplies distributorship, disputed Bakker's statements and said he couldn't say much to defend himself because of the pending criminal case. The charges arose from an investigation conducted jointly by the FBI, the Bureau of Land Management and the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation.

"I feel like I'm overwhelmed on this," Murphy said. "There are a lot of outside circumstances that aren't being reported. I haven't been able to tell my side of the story. When everything is put out there - it's about money and prestige......"

I encourage you to keep reading. The story gets a bit more strange.......................

More Fossil Theft

Sadly, there are two more stories on fossil theft in the news (not alleged theft either, straight out stealing). First, vertebrate fossils from a rich site in the Morrison Formation near Hanksville, Utah (the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry) have become the target of fossil thieves [link]. This is a really sad event, given the great work the Burpee Museum crew had been doing out there. The site was well publicized this summer (see these other links as well; it even has its own Wikipedia entry!), and that could possibly have given the bad guys the tip as to where to look. It is freaking sad that you would even have to worry about it in the first place. They obviously were being sneaky, to steal fossils and leave the jackets there. They probably figured no one would look till the Burpee returned and then it would be way to late. What good are they going to do in someones house or in some rock shop being sold to tourist?! John and I visited this site earlier this summer and they had some great stuff going on out there. I would totally publish the pictures on here and had intended to, but know I wonder if I would only be giving those with bad intentions another picture to help them find there way there. These are OUR public resources they are stealing, and it really makes me upset. Is there no respect for what researchers are trying to do there? Anywhere? You should be mad about this. We all should! If you see someone collection vertebrate fossils from public lands (BLM, forest service or national park service) please report it! It is up to us to help stop theft and help to keep an eye on the resources that belong to the public!

Second, pieces of a large fossilized conifer were stolen from public land near St. George, Utah. This tree had ~25 feet of its length preserved and the thieves went to great lengths to procure it. Luckily it was recovered and is now on display at the Dinosaur Discovery Site in St. George (read more of the story here)! The reason this was an issue, since collecting a reasonable amount of plant fossils is allowed on public land, is that these fossils were collected for commercial purposes, as outlined in the news story (and as far as I can tell). Fossils for commercial purposes are not allowed without a special permit (see below). From the "Hobby collecting in Utah" webpage: "You may collect common invertebrate and plant fossils for NONCOMMERCIAL purposes only. A reasonable amount is what you may keep for a personal hobby collection or display in your home. Collecting common invertebrate or plant fossils for landscaping (even if it's just around your house) is not a hobby activity and must be done as a mineral materials sale....If you wish to collect common invertebrate or plant fossils for landscaping, sale, or commercial purposes you must apply to the BLM for a mineral materials sale. (43CFR3602)" We can only hope that the bones stolen from the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry will be found as well.

These fossils were stolen from Bureau of Land Management land, and collecting vertebrate fossils without a permit is illegal. There are laws protecting fossils and they provide a variety of penalties if not collected with a permit. Some fines are smaller, with the the maximum fine being $250,000 and/or up to 10 years in jail (according to the AK BLM web page here).

Please see the Utah Paleontology website for more great information on fossils in Utah. The Hobby Collecting in Utah webpage can give you all the facts on fossils that are alowed to be collected in that state.

For more on fossil theft on BLM lands, see this webpage.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Kryostega collinsoni

I was excited to see this press release the other day. We had this specimen on display at Augustana for a long time (below center) and then I shipped it off to Chris Sidor last year for him to work on. So it is exciting to see Kryostega collinsoni getting some press!

ScienceDaily (2008-09-12) -- Paleontologists have found a previously unknown amphibious predator that probably made the Antarctica of 240 million years ago something less than a hospitable place.

The species, named Kryostega collinsoni, is a temnospondyl, a prehistoric amphibian distantly related to modern salamanders and frogs. K. collinsoni resembled a modern crocodile, and probably was about 15 feet in length with a long and wide skull even flatter than a crocodile's.

In addition to large upper and lower teeth at the edge of the mouth, temnospondyls often had tiny teeth on the roof of the palate. However, fossil evidence shows the teeth on the roof of the mouth of the newly found species were probably as large as those at the edge of the mouth.

"Its teeth, compared to other amphibians, were just enormous. It leads us to believe this animal was a predator taking down large prey," said Christian Sidor, a University of Washington associate professor of biology and curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the UW.

Sidor is lead author of a paper describing the new species published in the September issue of the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. Co-authors are Ross Damiani of Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Stuttgart in Germany and William Hammer of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill.

The scientists worked from a fossilized piece of the snout of K. collinsoni, analyzing structures present in more complete skulls for other temnospondyl species that had similar size characteristics.

"The anatomy of the snout tells us what major group of amphibian this fossil belonged to," Sidor said.

Teeth at the edge of the mouth, as well as on the palate roof, were clearly visible, and the presence of structures similar to those that allow fish and amphibians to sense changes in water pressure led the researchers to conclude that the species was aquatic.

The fossilized piece of snout also contains a nostril, which aided the scientists in judging proportions of the head when comparing it to other fossils. They estimated the skull was about 2.75 feet long and perhaps 2 feet across at its widest point.

"Kryostega was the largest animal in Antarctica during the Triassic," Sidor said.

The term "Kryostega" translates to 'frozen' and 'roof,' which refer to the top of the skull. The scientists named the species for James Collinson, a professor emeritus of Earth sciences at Ohio State University who made important contributions to the study of Antarctic geology.

Hammer collected the fossil in 1986 from an Antarctic geological layer called the Fremouw Formation. He has studied a number of other Antarctic fossils, including dinosaurs, collected at about the same time, and so the temnospondyl fossil was not closely examined until the last couple of years.

At the time K. collinsoni was living, all the world's land was massed into a giant continent called Pangea. The area of Antarctica where the fossil was found was near what is now the Karoo Basin of South Africa, one of the richest fossil depositories on Earth.

Sidor noted that in the early Triassic period, from about 245 million to 251 million years ago, just before the period that produced the K. collinsoni fossil, it appears that Antarctica and South Africa were populated by largely the same species. While Antarctica was still colder than much of the world, it was substantially warmer than it is today, though it still spent significant periods in complete darkness.

By the middle of the Triassic period perhaps only half the species were the same, he said, and in the early Jurassic period, around 190 million years ago, unique early dinosaur species were appearing in Antarctica.

"It could be that these animals were adjusting to their local environment by then, and we are seeing the results of speciation occurring at high latitude," Sidor said. "Here we have really good evidence that Antarctic climate wasn't always the way it is today. During the Triassic, it was warmer than it is today – it was warmer globally, not just in Antarctica."

This work was funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation." [link]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Secrets of the Dinosaur Mummy

Today is "Prehistoric Sunday" on the Discovery Channel. They are playing some of their older shows, such as Walking with Dinosaurs" and others today as they lead up to "Secrets of the Dinosaur Mummy." From the DC website [link]:

"Leonardo" was found in Montana almost fully intact. Ninety percent of his body is covered in skin. We know what he ate for his last meal. What makes this so impressive? Leonardo is a 77 million-year-old dinosaur. Discovery Channel reveals what is unquestionably one of the most unexpected and important dinosaur discoveries of all time in the one-hour high-definition special Secrets of the Dinosaur Mummy, premiering Sunday, Sept. 14, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT).

Discovered in 2000 by a team of amateur paleontologists exploring Malta, Mont., Leonardo -- named for graffiti found near his burial site -- is the first dinosaur mummy with intact digestive tract contents ever found. With this once-in-a-lifetime finding, scientists now have more than just bones to fully reconstruct how dinosaurs looked and lived. From the cause of death to Leonardo's last meal, scientific tests provide far more detail than the team of scientists ever expected. Skin impressions and actual fossilized samples of the digested food still inside the viscera, plus skin and joints, allow the team to create the first reconstruction of a giant dinosaur, accurate both inside and out.

Leonardo is a young Brachylophosaurus, a four-legged plant-eating duck-billed dinosaur, the very first juvenile of the species discovered with extensive skin. He was approximately 3 to 4 years old when he died and would have been 20 feet long, weighing about 2,000 pounds.

From high-tech testing of Leonardo's remains, scientists have positively identified what a plant-eating dinosaur ate -- something that has never been done before. Leonardo's last meal consisted largely of leaves, which included ferns, magnolias and conifers. Additional analysis has confirmed at least 40 different types of prehistoric plant pollen preserved in his stomach. Since most dinosaurs were herbivores, this find is an incredibly important step in learning more about the creatures' lives on the planet.

Another finding that was only possible due to Leonardo's intact remains is the strong evidence for a crop. Modern plant-eating birds have crops to aid in the digestion process, but there was no evidence of the possibility that dinosaurs may have also had crops until Leonardo was unearthed. This startling discovery has led to new theories of how these creatures lived.

Leonardo will be on display at the Houston Museum of Natural Science in a specially created exhibit -- Dinosaur Mummy CSI: Cretaceous Science Investigation -- beginning Sept. 19, 2008."

Let me know if any of you watch this. I would love to hear what you thought of the show....

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Canyon City

CBS Denver did a nice story on Garden Park near Canyon City, Colorado, where Cope and Marsh worked in the Morrison Formation. Check it out here. Also, be sure to watch the video to the right hand side.

Thanks to Neffra for the heads up on this one :)


Friday, September 12, 2008

SVP urges repeal of Louisiana Science Education Act

Here is a recent press release from the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology's website. I miss this one so I thought I would pass it on:

"Deerfield, IL (September 4, 2008) – Today the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP), the world’s leading organization of vertebrate paleontologists, urges Louisiana citizens and legislators to repeal the “Louisiana Science Education Act” and to prohibit the injection of religious content in America’s public school classrooms. The SVP added its voice to those of other leading scientific societies, scientists and citizens concerned about Louisiana’s new “Science Education Act” (the Act).

The Act was drafted under the guise of “academic freedom” and appeals to cherished values of fairness and free speech. However, SVP says the Act intends to garner support and legal protection for the introduction of religious, creationist concepts, including intelligent design, in public school science curricula. By permitting instructional materials that are not reviewed by the state’s science standards committees, the Louisiana Act and those like it encourage teachers and administrators to work outside these standards. This makes it possible for local school boards to define science and science education to suit their own agendas, thereby compromising the quality of science education for students, and allowing religious discrimination in America’s public school science classrooms."


Thursday, September 11, 2008

5 Minerals

Another geology meme - already! Callan over at Nova Geoblog offers the next challenge:

"Which five minerals do you think are the most important ones to know, and why? In other words, if you had to introduce a non-geologist to just five of the earth's multitudinous building blocks, which ones would you choose to share, and offer a justification for each."

I am thinking along the same lines as some of the others who have responded, so some of these may not be very original...and I am also thinking along the lines of introducing minerals to a non-geologist and what they could take away from learning these 5. I feel like my "whys?" are a bit lame, I apologize ahead of time:

  1. Quartz: It's every where! People even worship it (not sure why). Its very common, so easy to show in different mineral states and rocks; and who can forget SiO2. The different colors make it easy for a non-geologist to enjoy and remember also.
  2. Calcite: Easy - caves, fossilization and invertebrates. Heck, trilobites used calcite for their eye lenses! Its fun!
  3. Feldspar: The most common mineral in the earths crust, easily recognizable, & found in igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks. Of course plagioclase feldspars are also one of my favorites so I might be a little partial here.
  4. Magnetite: People are always amazed by this one - the magnetic properties surprise people and they will play with it forever. Its a iron ore, and can be found in banded iron formations, and something fun - "Crystals of magnetite have been found in some bacteria (e.g., Magnetospirillum magnetotacticum) and in the brains of bees, of termites, of some birds (e.g., the pigeon), and of humans. These crystals are thought to be involved in magnetoreception, the ability to sense the polarity or the inclination of the Earth's magnetic field, and to be involved in navigation. Also, chitons have teeth made of magnetite on their radula making them unique among animals. This means they have an exceptionally abrasive tongue with which to scrape food from rocks." [link] Now, wasn't that fun?
  5. Clays: They make foods I like hold together better so I can eat them (chocolate, ice cream...), they are used in makeup, paint, toothpaste, ceramics..... How cool is that. They are stable, platy, like to stay suspended and stick to my cars paint. Clay rocks.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Honesty is the best policy

From the Great Falls Tribune:

September 10, 2008

Paleontologist accused of stealing fossil

Tribune Staff Writer

Nate Murphy, the paleontologist who discovered several of Malta's most famous fossils, including the dinosaur mummy Leonardo, was charged Tuesday in Phillips County with stealing a turkey-sized raptor fossil.

The result of a yearlong investigation, state prosecutors allege that Murphy lied about where the raptor was found in order to sell replicas of the fossil, which is estimated to be worth between $150,000 and $400,000.

Murphy was the director of paleontology with the Dinosaur Field Station in Malta for 15 years before resigning July 1, 2007 — one month after the Montana Division of Criminal Investigations, the FBI and the Bureau of Land Management began their investigation.

"I could be a millionaire now if I had the intention of selling those specimens I've been collecting for years," Murphy said Tuesday. "I do what I love to do. It's never been about money."

Since 1993, Murphy has run a paleo-outfitting business, taking crews of amateur diggers to ranches outside Malta and Grass Range looking for dinosaur bones.

In those years, he found a new species of long-necked dinosaur near Grass Range, a family of Stegosauruses near Malta and three duckbills — which now share a home at Malta's new Great Plains Dinosaur Museum.

His most amazing find was Leonardo, considered the world's best-preserved dinosaur, complete with organs, skin and tissue that could unlock mysteries dating back 77 million years. The fossil graced the cover of Newsweek and National Geographic and is the star of an hourlong documentary debuting Sunday on the Discovery Channel.

As a result of the investigation, just who owned those fossils came into question. Murphy had a long-standing arrangement with the Hammond family to dig on their property about 26 miles north of Malta.

According to the affidavit charging Murphy, he agreed to report all significant finds to the Hammonds before excavating or removing them, and that all dinosaurs would be owned 50 percent by the Hammonds and 50 percent by Murphy's Dinosaur Field Institute.

"We basically trust people and our intentions were always to keep the dinosaurs in Phillips County," Howard Hammond said. "We thought that was Nate's intention, too. It's just a difficult situation."

The institute is Murphy's private business, which operated out of the former Dinosaur Field Station. However, the field station was funded by the separate nonprofit Judith River Dinosaur Foundation.

With the business and nonprofit so similarly named, it became unclear to the Hammonds and others just what was owned by Murphy and what was owned by the foundation.

With the investigation looming, Murphy agreed to sign over his 50 percent ownership of the fossils to the nonprofit foundation.

Murphy said the allegations that he stole the raptor are a misunderstanding. He said his son found the turkey-sized dinosaur underneath a fossilized turtle that he didn't realize was even there.

He chose not to tell the Hammonds about it, because he worried that as a result of the high-profile finds of their land they would want to "put a price tag on every specimen we found."

But according to court documents, Murphy first tried to hide the raptor's discovery from other paleontologists, partners and the Hammonds, and then lied about where it was found, saying he excavated it from a site near Saco.

Court documents allege that Murphy, therefore, claimed sole ownership of the raptor and didn't have to share profits or control with the Hammonds.

The investigation revealed that the fossil was actually discovered in 2002 by Mark Thompson, who volunteered to dig with Murphy for two summers. Thompson, who lives in Australia, told investigators that Murphy asked him not to bring up the discovery to the Hammonds.

Because the bones are so small, finding a raptor so well-preserved is rare. The fossil was complete with parts of fingers, the back of the skull, a fully articulated spine and the brain case.

In 2006, Murphy went back to excavate the raptor and sent the fossil to the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research in South Dakota.

Murphy signed an agreement with the Black Hills Institute to loan the raptor fossil for the purpose of making molds and casts with Murphy's Judith River Dinosaur Institute, making 20 percent in royalties off the sales of all cast specimens.

It wasn't until Murphy planned to reveal the raptor at Malta's Wine and Dino Days in June 2007 that Bakker and others began asking questions about the raptor's origin and about the ownership of Leonardo and the other fossil finds.

"I wished we had done it differently," Murphy said. "The specimen was cataloged. There was no attempt to abscond with it or sell it. My record speaks for itself.

"I think what's happened is because of the fact that I've become very high-profile over the years. People were out to get me."

Murphy said he has never sold fossils. However, his son Matt Murphy, who digs with him, has sold small fossils as a hobby, but never made a major profit from it, he said.

"It's ridiculous the things that have been said. I'm not trying to hide anything," he said.

However, Murphy's partner in the Leonardo Project LLC, Joe Iacuzzo, said he discovered Murphy and his son sold several fossils on the Internet and at dinosaur conventions.

"We will never know how long he's been selling dinosaurs and if what he sold was scientifically significant," Iacuzzo said.

The allegations shocked many scientists, including Bynum-area paleontologist David Trexler, who wrote much of the study of Leonardo and worked with Murphy on several digs.

Trexler and Murphy even set up dinosaur dig ethics standards for museums like the ones in Malta and Bynum that are part of the Montana Dinosaur Trail.

"This really blindsided me," Trexler said. "I keep thinking that there should have been something that one of us should have picked up on that would have stopped the damage from going on for so long."

The U.S. Attorney's Office would not comment on the federal investigation, including if any federal charges would be filed against Murphy.

Sue Frary, the director of programs and exhibits at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum, said the foundation fully cooperated with investigators and worked to quickly respond to secure ownership of the Malta dinosaurs, including Leonardo.

Frary did field work with Murphy dating back to 2002 and is one of the founding members of the nonprofit foundation. She said a team of paleontologists are now in the area and are working to track down GPS coordinates of all the specimens at the museum.

"The focus is the fossils," she said Tuesday. "The focus is the museum here and what that can do economically for Malta, for the Hi-Line and for northeastern Montana."

The foundation expects to double the number of digs next year, and Frary is busy planning new exhibits and educational programs to roll out this winter.

Bakker, who is overseeing a major new exhibit featuring Leonardo at the Houston museum, said none of the allegations against Murphy affect the scientific study of the mummified duckbill.

"Leonardo has always been examined with the best science," he said.

Head of the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation John Strandell said until the case is resolved, the raptor remains in state custody as evidence. Eventually, the raptor will be returned to its owner, Bruce Bruckner, who leases land to the Hammonds.

"We realize without Nate that all of these wonderful fossils would probably still be in the ground," Howard Hammond said. "The rest of the world wouldn't have the opportunity to know about it.

"Nate's made some real poor decisions, and we actually feel a little betrayed."


Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mineral Meme

All the other cool kids are doing this (Brian at Clastic Detritus, Kim at All my faults are stress-related, MJC Rocks at GeoTripper, the Lost Geologist, Chris at Highly Allochthonous, Dave at Geology News, Callan at NOVA Geoblog, Silver Fox at Looking for Detachment, and Chuck at Lounge of the Lab Lemming who started it all), so I thought I would join in (be sure to check out the above blogs - all are very interesting!):

Instructions from Chuck: Use bold to indicate minerals you’ve seen in the wild. Italics is for those seen in laboratories, museums, stores, or other non field locations.

Silver (native)
Sulphur (native)

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Geoblogosphere survey!

Passing the word on to all you GeoBloggers: Callan Bentley over at NOVA Geoblog is giving a talk in a couple of weeks (at the Geological Society of Washington) entitled "Rise of the Geoblogosphere." He is looking for information regarding "... who is blogging, where they're blogging from, when they're blogging, why they're blogging, what they're blogging about, and what they think about this whole blogging deal." If you would like to participate in his survey you can visit his post here with a link to the survey.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Welcome Max!

A big Congrats to fellow paleontologist Lorin King and his wife Gayl. They welcomed their second son into the world today! Max David was born at 4:27 pm, weighed 7lbs and 9oz, and was 20.5 inches long!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dixie Dinos!

For a friend.......

A certain Dixie State College in St. George, Utah, is looking for a new mascot. The old one, the Rebels, is being decomissioned for various reasons. They're putting the new one up to a vote. Because of the large and popular dinosaur presence in St. George, thanks largely to the spectacular Early Jurassic theropod (and other) footprints now in the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm museum, and because St. George is famous in part because of its surrounding of beautiful Upper Triassic and Lower Jurassic rocks, a dinosaur would be a natural mascot. Plus, of course, the predatory nature of theropod dinosaurs makes them as eligible for mascot status as all the mammalian and avian predators that are so common as sports team names and mascots anyway! ...My friend is advocating the Dixie Dinosaurs, with the specific mascot to be modeled after Dilophosaurus. We can't have the Toronto Raptors being the ONLY dinosaur sports team...(but don't forget the Dinger the Triceratops is the Colorado Rockies mascot as well!)!

But to make this happen, it needs votes...and that's where you come in! If you would take a few moments to go to:


and fill in the few blanks there. For "nickname," please put in "Dixie Dinosaurs" or just "dinosaurs" or something similar. (And you'd be eligible for the $100 prize!).

Thanks for the help!

Glacier National Park Geology & Paleontology: Part 5 - Snowslip & Shepard

*Please remember that all collecting of rocks, minerals, plants, fossils or cultural objects (i.e. arrowheads) from National Park Service land is illegal and punishable by a fine*


In publications from the 1930s to 1976, the Snowslip and Shepard Formations are often grouped together and referred to as the Missoula Group. In 1977, the current formation names were proposed. The Snowslip Formation is exposed locally at high elevations within the park and forms the base of the Missoula Group. This one billion year old formation contains calcitic or dolomitic red and green argillites, siltstones and sandstones and represents a subtidal to intertidal setting with occasional subaerial exposure. Pseudocolumnar and mound-shaped stromatolites, or stromatoloids, are known from five locations, with filamentous and pillar-shaped microfossils detected from a stromatolite (or stromatoloid) in the lower part of the Snowslip Formation (Horodyski, 1977, 1983a, 1985a, 1993a,b). Rezak (1957) describes the stromatolites Collenia undosa, Collenia symmetrica and Cryptozoon occidentale from locations along Highway 2 on the southern border of the park (above, below).

The Shepard Formation is highly eroded, existing only in higher elevations within the park. It is predominantly composed of dolomite, siltstones, argillite and quartzite and overlies the 1.5 to 1.845 Ga Purcell Lava (Aleinikoff et al., 1996). Fenton and Fenton (1931) report several
species of stromatolites from the Shepard Formation: Collenia parva, Collenia clappii and Collenia undosa. They also describe “problematic structures” from the base of the Shepard, later known as “molar-tooth structures,” also noted by Horodyski (Fenton and Fenton, 1931; Horodyski, 1985a). Mound-shaped stromatolites were also located in this formation by Horodyski (1982a) on Reynolds Mountain.

Aleinikoff, J.N., Evans, K.V., Fanninc, C.M., Obradovich, J.D., Ruppel, E.T., Zieg, J.A. and Steinmetz, J.C., 1996, SHRIMP U-Pb ages of felsic igneous rocks, Belt Supergroup, western Montana: Geological Society of America, Abstracts with Programs, v. 28, p. 376.

Fenton, C.L. and Fenton, M.A., 1931, Algae and algal beds in the Belt Series of Glacier National Park: Journal of Geology, v. 39, p. 670-686.

Horodyski, R.J., 1977, Environmental influences on columnar stromatolite branching patterns: Examples from the Middle Proterozoic Belt Supergroup, Glacier National Park, Montana: Journal of Paleontology, v. 51, p. 661-671.

Horodyski, R.J., 1982a, Problematic bedding-plane markings from the Middle Proterozoic Appekunny Argillite, Belt Supergroup, Northwestern Montana: Journal of Paleontology, v. 56, p. 882-889.

Horodyski, R.J., 1983a, Sedimentary geology and stromatolites of the Middle Proterozoic Belt Supergroup, Glacier National Park, Montana: Precambrian Research, v. 20, p. 391-425.

Horodyski, R.J., 1985a, Stromatolites and Paleontology of the Middle Proterozoic Belt Supergroup, Glacier National Park, Montana, in Whipple, J.W., O.B. Raup, Kelty, T., Davis, G., and Horodyski, R., eds., A field guidebook to the geology of Glacier National Park, Montana and vicinity: Society for Sedimentary Geologist (SEPM) midyear meeting field guide, 19 p.

Horodyski, R.J., 1993a, Paleontology of Proterozoic shales and mudstones: Examples from the Belt Supergroup, Chuar Group, and Pahrump Group, western U.S.A: Precambrian Research v. 61, no. 3-4, p. 241-278.

Horodyski, R.J., 1993b, Precambrian paleontology of the western conterminous United States and northwestern New Mexico, in Reed, J.C., ed., Precambrian of the Conterminous United States: Boulder, Geological Society of America, Geology of North America, v. C-2, p. 558-565
(microfiche appendix of 77 pages).

Rezak, R., 1957, Stromatolites of the Belt Series in Glacier National Park and vicinity, Montana: U.S. Geological Survey Professional Paper 294-D, p. 127-154.