After arriving in Hanksville, we set to opening the quarry. Our first day we were treated to low 80′s and a nice breeze. In a short time we re-opened the quarry from its winter slumber. I am happy to report that all of the plaster jackets we buried last summer survived and none were vandalized. After exposing and removing these winter jackets we began our excavations. Almost immediately two new bones were discovered; two scapulae (shoulder blades) to a Camarasaurus. Camarasaurus is a type of sauropod (long necked, four legged dinosaur) that lived at the end of Jurassic Period (around 147 million years ago). This herbivorous dinosaur could grow up to 65 feet long and weigh 20 tons. Interestingly, like most of our finds it appears these shoulderblades belong to a sub-adult (“teenaged”) dinosaur. We got a lot done in a short time. I look forward to more discoveries and the arrival of Dr. Matt Bonnan and his students from Western Illinois University.
Well another field season is upon the Burpee Museum. On Thursday, May 13th, Josh Mathews and I left Northern Illinois, destination; The Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry in Hanksville, Utah. In case you missed it, in 2008 Burpee discovered one of the largest dinosaur bonebeds found in North American within the last thiry years. This monstrous bonebed extends for nearly one quarter mile and is three hundred feet wide. So far we have begun exacavating several well known late Jurassic dinosaurs like, Apatosaurus, Diplodocus, Camarasaurus and possibly Allosaurus. In fact, since 2008 Burpee has excavated over 12,000 lbs of dinosaur bones.
This year we did not drive to Utah directly, instead we took a detour to Woodland Park to visit the Rocky Mountain Dinosaur Resource Center. We met with owner/Director Michael Triebold to place an order. We ordered a mounted cast of the “bone-headed” dinosaur, Pachycephalosaurus.
This cast will end up being part of the Homer Triceratops exhibit we plan to open in May, 2012. This was exciting for me as I had the luck to collect a pachy skull dome back in 2001! After a productive day of researching some of their new tyrannosaurid specimens and marvelling over the mounted 45 foot long Tylosaurus named “Bunker” we headed out. ONTO UTAH!!
Driving to Utah is always a wonderful because you get to go through the Rocky Mountains. This year mother nature rewarded us with snow and wildlife. At about 10,000 feet we drove through a small blizzard. Of course, Josh and I had to stop and like any good tourists got lots of pictures.
It was amazing! We ended up stopping (or should I saw swerving off the road in a semi-uncontrolled manner) because I spotted a heard of Big Horn Sheep about 20 feet from I-70!! We got some excellent pictures of a “gang” of young males and then we spotted a baby Big Horn….awww. It was ridiculously cute….so more picture taking. After adding a few hours of picturing taking we resumed our trip to Utah.