Shindigging around Montana

It’s time to catch up on another set of fieldwork photos! This summer I spent the bulk of my fieldwork time traveling around Montana. Let’s see where I wound up!

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The Coal Age Galapagos

The sea cliffs at Joggins, Nova Scotia are a thing to behold – kilometers of gently inclined, layer-cake geology recording thousands of years of a Carboniferous coal swamp’s ebb and flow. It’s a hugely important place scientifically and historically, as it influenced Lyell’s ideas about stratigraphy and geology, and Darwin’s ideas about evolution. It’s often called the “Coal Age Galapagos” because its significance for understanding Carboniferous palaeoecology was akin to the Galapagos for Darwin’s work. It is a cool place to visit, and I got to join Hillary Maddin‘s team from Carleton for a few days earlier this June! In the photo above, Hillary is pointing out some of the lycopod trees that remain upright in the cliff. Follow her arm and you’ll see a great example at about 1:30 underneath the top shadowy layer. All told, we saw about 25 of these along the cliffs during our time there. Continue reading

The Wild Wild West

I’ve just returned from a Turonian dinosaur hunt in New Mexico! Dinosaurs from this age are extremely rare in North America (and globally as well). Sea levels were at their highest at this time and much of North America was either totally submerged under the Western Interior Seaway, or were rapidly eroding highlands that are gone today. In the United States, New Mexico is the place to be if you want to find dinosaurs from this age, so we spent two weeks checking out the Moreno Hill and Crevasse Canyon formations in the western edge of the state.

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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.

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Fortunate Son

Elsewhere in the Mesozoic, parts of the field crew were working away at Cretaceous dinosaurs in the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation. In may we worked at Crystal Geyser Quarry, which is in the Yellow Cat Member of the same formation and is about 125 million years old, in a part of the Cretaceous called the Barremian. In contrast, the Mussentuchit Member is about 98 million years old, or Cenomanian in age. The Cedar Mountain Formation is a giant unit of rock, and the dinosaur faunas changed dramatically throughout!

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Where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead.

I can’t believe that it’s been more than 2 months since we got back from our fieldwork in Utah and I’m only getting around to posting about it now, but I guess that means things have been hopping around here! We had spent a week at the Crystal Geyser Quarry earlier in May, but our main batch of fieldwork lasted for four weeks from mid July to mid August. We drove from North Carolina to near Emery, Utah, to set up camp and work in the Morrison and Cedar Mountain formations.

Camp was comfortable and cozy!

And there were some pretty nice views!

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Wading With Dinosaurs

It’s that time of year again! Time to talk palaeontology with a 1000 of my closest friends in a convention centre somewhere far, far away! That’s right, it’s the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, this time in Dallas, Texas. This year I tried out an SVP meeting field trip for the first time. We chased dinosaurs and their friends through the mid Cretaceous near Dallas!

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The Great Canadian Dinosaur Hunt

Dino Hunt Canada is almost here! Starting this Friday, History Channel Canada will be airing a series of hour-long documentaries devoted to dinosaur expeditions all across Canada – and not just in the famous badlands of Alberta! The production crew visited field localities in Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan, multiple places around Alberta, and British Columbia. It’s going to be a real who’s who and where’s where of Canadian palaeontology.

I’ll be in the second episode featuring work in Dinosaur Provincial Park, which we filmed in 2013. It was a fun if somewhat unusual experience to have such a large film crew with us, and I’m looking forward to seeing the whole shebang!

What was the crew filming in DPP? Tune in to find out!

There’s also a really excellent website to accompany the show. You can learn more about some of the dinosaurs featured in the series (including wonderful new artwork by Danielle Dufault!), see interviews with some of the palaeontologists, and submit ideas for a nickname for a new dinosaur excavated during the show by the Southern Alberta Dinosaur Project. You can even submit questions and maybe have my weirdo face answer them via Skype! All in all, it’s looking really good so far and I’m so happy to see the huge variety of dinosaur research being conducted across Canada by so many talented and hardworking people.