Fossils in Disguise


As July progressed into August and we neared the end of our field season, it was time to start hauling blocks back to camp and closing down quarries. This is Suicide Hill, a spot I didn’t work at very much but which contains lots of juvenile Eolambia. Lindsay has a great system for bringing large blocks back to camp with people-power only, since we cannot use vehicles at many of our sites. We strap them with ratchet straps to a backboard (or what everyone else was calling a sled, but it’s a backboard guys! We were totally prepared for spinal injuries!). This way, 4-8 people can lift large jackets with relative ease and less potential for back injury. I think this jacket was somewhere over 500 pounds.

Closing down quarries also means Khai and Haviv and I got to haul gear back to camp, like pry bars and crack hammers and water jugs and all kinds of other heavy things. WHAT FUN.

We had started a new quarry called Mini Troll relatively late in the season after the sauropod site was largely completed. Lisa had found this spot last year and it looks like it contains a very nice small ornithischian, possibly something a bit like Orodromeus in general shape and size. It’s not articulated, but it looks like a lot of it is in this little lens of sandstone.

Also, I found a TOOTH! Maybe from Siats?

Mini Troll kept getting bigger and bigger and bigger and we were starting to run out of time.

That meant we had a couple of nights where we ate dinner at the quarry to save time. Did you know that mayonnaise tastes great in leftover chili? (This is probably my favourite photo from the whole field season – what a great moment of collegiality and teamwork and friendship.)

Click to embiggen this sort of ok panorama of Mini Troll at about 9pm at night!


By the final morning, Mini Troll had gotten so big that we felt we couldn’t really call it ‘mini’ anymore, and so while the site is still Mini Troll, the jacket was dubbed Megatron. We were finishing the final layers of plaster at about 8am on the last day.

Megatron weighed over 600 pounds and needed to go up this extremely steep hill without many footholds. I still can’t believe we got it up successfully and with, ultimately, minimal hassle or terror.

And that finishes off my overdue fieldwork posts! If you find yourself in Raleigh, come visit Megatron! He’s hanging out in the window of the prep lab and Lindsay and Lisa just started to open it up a week or so ago. I think it’s going to be pretty cool!


6 thoughts on “Fossils in Disguise

  1. Possible Siats tooth–great find! Interestingly, wiki indicates Siats was coeval with Eolambia, both about 98 Ma. Abydosaurus was older–c 104 Ma or Albian instead of Cenomanian. Siats, furthermore may have been a tyrannosauroid instead of a neovenatorid. If a tyrannosauroid, it was probably ecologically associated with Eolambia, just like later tyrannosaurids went after hadrosaurs. At 6-9m Eolambia would've been worthwhile prey for the big Siats.


  2. Well wiki did cite this:
    Novas et al. 2012 “Megaraptorans as members of an unexpected evolutionary radiation of tyrant-reptiles in Gondwana.”
    Tyrannosauroid affinities wouldn't be at all surprising, considering Siats lived alongside Eolambia, not Abydosaurus. Tyrannosauroids had lived alongside hadrosauroids at least as far back as Yixian/Barremian time, when Yutyrannus faced Bolong. I think Abydosaurus probably was up against some big as yet unnamed carcharodontosaur, closely related to A. atokensis which lived several million years earlier.


  3. Right, the point I'm making is that the Novas et al. result is currently only available as an abstract (as far as I know), which is a short summary of a research project used when you're giving a conference presentation. I don't think the results of that study have been published as a full, peer-reviewed paper yet, which means we can't assess the quality of the results. I'm not saying that their result is necessarily wrong, and it is certainly interesting, but it is preliminary, and we need to wait for a paper in order to be able to look at their dataset and decide whether or not we agree with it.


  4. In your comment of November 10, you mentioned the Mussentuchit has “the first appearance of things like tyrannosaurs” (in North America). If tyrannosauroid remains occur at the same level as Siats 98.5 Ma, that would be suggestive. 🙂 It's probable given the association of tyrannosauroids and hadrosauroids–Eolambia is the same age.


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