Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July 2016: Back in the Hell Creek Formation!

Outcrop of the Hell Creek Formation near our camp. Photo: Kit Robison.

My field crew and I are back looking for dinosaurs on the American Prairie Reserve (APR) in northern Montana!

If you've followed the blog before, you'll know that in 2015 the APR kindly provided us funding to survey the reserve for fossils. We focused our prospecting in outcrops of the dinosaur-rich Hell Creek Formation, which records the final years the Cretaceous Period, ~ 67 Million years ago. Exposures of the Hell Creek Formation on APR land are mostly the lower part of the Formation. This is very interesting for our ongoing Hell Creek research as the species found in the lower part fo the formation differ from those of the upper, and it is much less well sampled. We need more dinosaurs from the lower!

In 2015 we found 60 new sites, including 30 microsites, a juvenile Triceratops frill, and a very interesting site with the skulls of three different dinosaurs weathering out, one of which might be a medium-sized Tyrannosaurus rex

We have returned in 2016 armed with a fistful of BLM excavation permits so that we can properly dig at some of the more promising sites. I will be posting updates and photos through the season. Hopefully we will have some cool specimens to report on!

Also keep an eye on my Twitter feed (@df9465) for regular photos.

Gratuitous truck photo: My recently acquired field truck in its natural habitat, with paleo plates!
Crew members Holley Flora and Jack Wilson pose awkwardly next to our trusty trailer, complete with resident mouse.

Okay, that's the intro done. I will post something about actual fossils tomorrow!