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Dig This, Dinosaur Bones

Dig This, Dinosaur Bones

Science is organized knowledge. Knowledge is organized life.
-Immanuel Kant, philosopher (1724-1804)

It takes an experienced eye to take a look at loose dirt and rapidly confirm what's rock and what's bone. Just ask paleontologist Jerry Jacene of Red Feather Fossil Excavations, Glendive, Montana.
"That is fingers on history," explains Jacene. A discipline director with more than 20 years in paleontology, Jacene has traveled, excavated and documented historic finds in Tennessee, Wyoming, Montana and China, just to name a number of places.

A dust, rocky road will take you back, actually, 12 miles to Makoshika Breaks (aka Camp Rex) and back in time to when cretaceous mammals roamed the Badlands of Montana when it was oceanfront property. Makoshika is fifty sq. miles of buttes (sandstone), rolling prairies, a couple of pine trees, and can be a working ranch.

When our group first met Jerry, he showed us a number of fossils (bones, teeth, eggs and claws) he collected just for our benefit. The first "clue" he defined to us was that bone is porous, so for those who lick it, it should persist with your tongue.

This space, generally known as the Badlands, used to appear like the Everglades, based on Jerry, resident paleontologist.

Our camp consisted of some cabins, a large tepee, and a modern single-story building which housed the kitchen, eating room and gathering place, with two bogs and showers. In an emergency there was at all times the outhouse, (handicap accessible, but not the buttes). It was here that co-proprietor Lois prepared 1,500 meals in at some point for television crews and ranchers when the Discovery Channel came out to make a documentary in regards to the Historical past of Tyrannosaurus Rex (T-Rex).

The country cabins are bunk style and minimal electricity. You wont need an alarm clock because dawn comes round four am, and it would not get dark till round 10 pm. In case you forgot yours, there are pattern packs of Advil and lip balm, compliments of the homeowners, within the cabins and in the restrooms.

In addition to daily digs, visitors can learn about branding, round-ups (even take part in their twice yearly occasion) and horseback ride. Approximately 500 head of cattle are on the property and one hundred horses, most of them wild. Evenings are best loved sitting around the campfire sharing cowboy stories and singing acquainted songs.

Our dig begins the following morning after a fast breakfast, buffet style. We load up on Jerry's pick up truck to cowl some ground faster. We pass by way of several barbed wire fences, which must be opened and closed by hand to prevent cattle from roaming too far. In the course of the summer season some cows will discover their manner into the buttes, along dangerous dry, distant areas the place they're prey for coyotes and different wild animals. Donning hats, sunscreen and carrying bottled water, we make our method via cathedral buttes, and rock formations holding treasures of history. Amateurs and volunteers (students to adults) play a serious function in discovering, digging and cleansing dinosaur exhibits bones and other fossils.

"Essentially the most fascinating and historic finds aren't the large ones, like T-Rex or Triceratops," said Jacene. "It's the small finds that are probably the most significant. The trace fossils inform us so much more, just like the atmosphere, what they ate; the ecosystem. And how they interacted with each other."
Trace fossils - footprints, mineralized feces, stomach stones-gastroliths, and impressions left by skin or feathers.

In North Dakota tracks, similar to that of an alligator, probably 90' in size have been found. They're ripple marks, 2 1'2" aside and tracks from a inflexible tail, 1 ¼" apart. In line with Jerry, nobody has seen something like this. They do not know what kind of animal it is.

The most typical finds in this area right now are turtle shells. These are simply detected because of the sample on the shells, this tells us there will need to have been water nearby. You can also find small mammals in ant hills. Ants move the earth, placing sand and filth on prime of the bones, serving to protect them.

Jerry knows the terrain within the instant space higher than nearby roads. As we hike he factors out where certain bones have been found and how.

"With a pair of 10x50 binoculars, I was able to see a (large) piece of bone protruding from a rock formation," stated Jerry. He factors out the varied layers, bands in the buttes. "You need to look at the hours of darkness bands," he further explained. The layers are ironstone and bentanite. Larger bones which may be protruding are because of the erosion from weather.

The excavation of one butte has introduced out an arctic crocodile and a mammal bone, presumably a leg bone from a Chasmosaurus. And in one other layer, Lemur tooth have been found. Oftentimes, as a way to move fragile bones and stopping any additional destruction, fossils are encased in a plaster jacket to protect and relocate them.

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