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Earthwatch Paleo Expeditions




Greetings from Bear Burnes, Director of Field Operations here at Earthwatch. 
We recently joined the dinosaur Mailing List. I wanted to tell you all about
several palaeontological research projects we are sponsoring which urgently
need the help of dinosaur enthusiasts. 

For those of you unfamiliar with Earthwatch, we are a twenty-two year old
nonprofit organization that sponsors scientific field research by recruiting
paying volunteers to help fund and conduct the work of research expeditions
around the world. Earthwatch is sponsoring 165 unique projects this year
covering all of the field sciences including archaeology, anthropology,
ecology, conservation, life and physical sciences, health and development
projects and cultural studies. 

In 1994 we hope to recruit 4,000 volunteers to participate on 700 teams.
Volunteers work side-by-side with distinguished scientists to solve critical
environmental and scientific problems. Most teams are two weeks in duration and
no special skills are required. As an Earthwatch volunteer you'll be trained in
the field to assist with the research tasks.  To participate, volunteers take
on a share of the costs to fund the expedition and are responsible for their
own air fare to and from the site (these costs are usually tax deductible).

These projects are often hard work but they're also exciting and fun and they
offer you an opportunity to contribute to the exploration and preservation of
our world's natural wonders.

This year we're supporting several research projects that may be of particular
interest to you and that need your help. They include:
The End of the Dinosaurs - McCone County, Montana
Mexican Megafauna - San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico
Oxford Mammoths - Oxford, England
Triassic Park - Ischigualasto Valley, west-central Argentina
China's Ancient Elephants - Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, northwest China

More complete descriptions of these projects including volunteer tasks, costs
and logistics follow. If you'd like more information on any of these programs
or to sign up for a team you can respond directly through the Internet at
info@earthwatch.org or you can call the Expedition Coordinator listed for each
project in the following write-ups at 1 (800) 776-0188 or contact them directly
through their respective Internet addresses (listed in enclosure). When
responding, please include your postal mailing address so we can send you
additional information about Earthwatch. You may also receive more detailed
information on any of these projects by ordering the project prospectus
(US$10); order by credit card by sending authorization with account number and
expiration date.  Also, please pass this information along to fellow dinosaur
enthusiasts. 

These projects need your help. Hope to hear from you soon!

CHINA'S ANCIENT ELEPHANTS
Jian Guan, Beijing Natural History Museum#014#
Dr. Jeheskel Shoshani#014#Cranbrook Institute of Science
Expedition Coordinator: Bram de Veer 1(800)776-0188 ext179
bdeveer@earthwatch.org
Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, northwest China-For a century, poor Moslem
villagers here have mined "dragon" bones for sale to apothecaries. The remains
of tapirs, primates, saber-toothed cats, and bizarre shovel-tusked ancient
elephants that roamed what was a temperate forest 12 to 16 million years ago,
Dragon Bone Hill's fossils are abundant, well-preserved, and astonishingly
diverse. But how did they pile up here? Did this region spawn mammal species
that spread throughout Miocene forests? 
        Field Conditions: Teams will excavate, preserve, and document fossils. 
Based
in a hotel in Tongxin, fit volunteers will be among the first outsiders to work
at fossil sites in China and Mongolia-which have recently emerged as the
palaeontology hot spots of the planet. Related interests: evolution, surveying.
1994 TEAMS: III: Jul 31-Aug 13; IV: Aug 14-27; STAGING AREA: Beijing;  YOUR
SHARE OF COSTS: $1,695; #163#1,155; A$2,500

END OF THE DINOSAURS
Dr. Keith Rigby
University of Notre Dame
Expedition Coordinator: Bram de Veer 1(800)776-0188 ext179
bdeveer@earthwatch.org
McCone County, Montana-Did the fallout from an asteroid that crashed into Earth
65 million years ago create a protracted "winter" that did in the dinosaurs?
Noted palaeontologist Keith Rigby believes the asteroid neither started nor
finished the job. He and five seasons of EarthCorps volunteers have found the
remains of dinosaurs that were still running around 500,000 years after their
supposed demise. And this past year, his teams found amber (a la Jurassic Park)
that contained 65 million-year-old air. In one of the most widely reported
discoveries of the year, Rigby and his colleagues were able to analyze the air
to reconstruct the period's climate conditions (the first time anyone has been
able to do this with reliable results). Based on his analysis, he now believes
that the dinosaurs, which had evolved during the endless summer of the
Cretaceous, actually died out because plants, volcanic eruptions, and changing
climate interacted to produce temperature extremes and lower oxygen levels. The
dinosaurs simply couldn't adapt fast enough. His theory, called the Pele
Hypothesis, has rocked the palaeontological world and made international
headlines. This season he will be looking for more startling and
ground-breaking discoveries.
        Field Conditions: Teams will dig out, sort, and record fossils, screen 
matrix,
and prospect new outcrops. The team is based in a four-bedroom house on
Montana's high plains, where deer and antelope still play. Related interests:
soil analysis, surveying, anatomy, evolution, mapping.#011#1994 TEAMS: I: Jul 
3-15;
 STAGING AREA: Glasgow, Montana;  YOUR SHARE OF COSTS: $1,395; #163#950; A$2,050

MEXICAN MEGAFAUNA
Dr. Oscar Carranza Castaneda
National Autonomous University of Mexico
Dr. Wade Miller, Brigham Young University
Expedition Coordinator: Emily Snodgrass 1(800)776-0188 ext 184
esnodgrass@earthwatch.org
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico-For 60 million years, South America
was cut off from North America, and each continent cultivated plants and
animals all its own. South America specialized in marsupials; North America in
placental mammals. When sea levels dropped six million years ago, reconnecting
the island continents, giant mammals used the natural corridor to colonize new
habitats. While elephant-sized sloths, anteaters, and glyptodonts (huge
armadillos) lumbered north, saber-toothed cats, mastodonts, horses, pigs, and
camels ventured south. How did these animals disperse, evolve, and compete?
What can they reveal about the evolution of modern American mammals? For the
past five years, Earth-#014#Corps crews have been unearthing mastodonts, camels,
cats, giant rodents, and a superbly preserved extinct horse at these rich
sites. Their work already has increased the vertebrate fossil collection of the
State of Guanajuato by 25 percent and is helping to clarify how some of the
mammals that appeared suddenly on the Great Plains evolved.
        Field Conditions: Teams will excavate fossils with hand tools, clean 
and wash
them; screen-wash sediment for teeth and other treasures; preserve large finds
in plaster jackets; photograph or sketch fossils; and prospect new areas. The
comfortable and well-equipped Rancho San Martin offers rooms and authentic
Mexican fare. Related interests: soil analysis, Mexican culture, surveying,
mapping.
1994 TEAMS: I: Jun 20-Jul 2; II: Jul 11-23; STAGING AREA: San Miguel de
Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico;  YOUR SHARE OF COSTS: $1,595; #163#1,085; A$2,350

OXFORD MAMMOTHS
Dr. Katherine Scott, Oxford University
Expedition Coordinator: Emily Snodgrass 1(800)776-0188 ext 184
esnodgrass@earthwatch.org
Oxford, England-About 200,000 years ago, just outside this renowned university
town, mammoths stomped through the shallows of a moderately large river,
feeding on succulent grasses and sedges. Today the bed of that river is one of
the richest fossil sites in Europe, yielding well-preserved remains of mammoth,
horse, aurochs (an extinct wild ox), giant deer, and other animals and plants
that throw new light on the region's ancient environment. One soil sample
contained 45 different beetle species, among them 5 species of dung beetle. The
evidence points to a previously unknown warm period during the Ice Age. Last
year's EarthCorps teams found 24 mammoth tusks. Most exciting, the site has
revealed three handaxes and a flake. Could a human site, even human bones, be
nearby?
        Field Conditions: For a second season crews will excavate pits, remove 
and
package mammoth bones and other fossils to the University Museum of Oxford,
draw plans, and take notes.  Volunteers stay and eat in a small hotel and work
in the unspoiled Oxfordshire countryside. Related interests: drawing, botany,
mapping, photography. #011#1994 TEAMS: I: Jun 19-Jul 3; II: Jul 31-Aug 14; III: 
Sep
11-25; STAGING AREA: Oxford, England; YOUR SHARE OF COSTS: $1,595; #163#1,085;
A$2,350

TRIASSIC PARK
Dr. William Sill & Professor Alfredo Monetta
Universidad Nacional de San Juan
Expedition Coordinator: Gretchen Bowder 1(800)776-0188 ext 180
gbowder@earthwatch.org
Ischigualasto Valley, west-central Argentina-The miraculous recreations of
Jurassic Park notwithstanding, some researchers estimate that we know of only 1
percent of all dinosaurs. Funding and manpower for palaeontology projects have
been so scarce that some of the world's best sites-such as Argentina's Valley
of the Moon-have revealed only a handful of their secrets. This year for the
first time, William Sill and Alfredo Monetta are leading EarthCorps teams to
this spectacular valley, dominated by 150-meter-high sandstone cliffs. This
valley is especially important because it harbors a continuous sequence of
fossil-bearing sediments from the middle through the late Triassic, a
tumultuous period with a poor fossil record. Crews will search for rare plant
and animal remains (including those of the 1.3-meter-high Pisanosaurus, the
earliest known saurian relative of the birds). Their finds may help clarify
why, during the middle Triassic 220 million years ago, the primitive therapsid
reptiles died out and the dinosaurs and mammals suddenly arose.
        Field Conditions: Volunteers will survey, map, and excavate sites; 
process
finds; gather and wash sediment samples; and plaster fossils to transport them
to the museum. Besides the Pisanosaurus, volunteers will be on the lookout for
Rynchosaurs (large, herbivorous reptiles). Sill is convinced that the early
history of mammals "will no doubt be found some day in the sediments of
Ischigualasto." The project is based in tents. Related interests: geology,
surveying, dinosaurs. #011#1994 TEAM IV: Oct 8-21; STAGING AREA: Mendoza,
Argentina; YOUR SHARE OF COSTS: $1,495; #163#1,015; A$2,205