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"Device Helps Couple Find Dinosaur Remains"
Device Helps Couple Find Dinosaur Remains
By JOSEPH BAUMAN
SAN RAFAEL SWELL, Utah (AP) - Ray Jones looked as if he were pushing a lawn
mower across the bare soil of a desert wash. When it reached the shallow hole
where his wife was digging with a screwdriver, the contraption began to snap and
"That's sure it," Carole Jones exclaimed.
The device was actually a scintillation counter, which works much like a Geiger
counter. Jones had built its rack of pipe, attached the fat wheels and modified
the counter's operations.
Instead of finding radioactive ore, Ray and Carole Jones were using it to locate
treasures of another kind: dinosaur remains.
Kneeling on yellow foam packing insulation to protect her knees, Carole Jones
scraped earth from around an oblong black rock. It was a fossilized chunk of a
dinosaur leg bone - a hadrosaur, a big, plant-eating animal with a such a wide
snout that the type is called a "duckbill dinosaur."
Throughout the dry landscape, on the gravel of the wash bottom, scraps of
newspaper were anchored by rocks - spots Ray Jones had marked where volunteers
should dig. Each represents a place where the scintillation counter had detected
a buried bone.
"The significance of this site is two-fold," said John Bird, a fossil
preparator for the College of Eastern Utah.
First, before digging began, buried bones were located with the scintillation
counter, "which is a new twist to old technology," he said.
Second, the creature they were uncovering might be the oldest hadrosaur ever
found. It dates to the early Cretaceous Era, about 115 or 120 million years ago.
In the small house trailer that's home when the Joneses are working the site,
Ray Jones explained how they came to discover the dinosaur.
In 1988 he spent a week helping a team from the University of Utah excavating at
the Long Walk dinosaur quarry near his boyhood home of Castle Dale, Emery
The team took the volunteers on field trips to explore new sites and told them
what to look for. Most dinosaurs bones found in the region are from the Morrison
Formation, which dates to about 150 million years ago.
Then Jones got the idea of searching in the Cedar Mountain Formation, which was
formed during the lower Cretaceous era, 138 million to 96 million years ago. Few
dinosaurs have been found from that level.
That meant whatever they discovered probably would be new to science.
So for the next four years, the Jones searched the formation for any remains.
"We were down here in April of '92. And we were walking along. And my wife, she
got all excited, and she hollered and I come over - and there were these little
black bones, just barely coming up out of the ground," Jones said.
About 4 feet from those chips, a 7-inch section of a dinosaur rib showed on the
Jones knew other bones must be buried nearby, and he contacted Don Burge,
director of CEU's Prehistoric Museum in Price. Using CEU's status as the
official repository for fossils found on Bureau of Land Management land in the
region, and its permit to dig, Burge authorized excavations.
Jones, a radiation analyst at the university's Radiological Health Department,
suspected he could modify a radiation detector to find buried dinosaur remains
at the site.
He and his wife made 850 radiation readings, locating where bones must be buried
and noting the position of each on a detailed map.
Three weeks later, in September 1993, a crew of volunteers arrived from
Prescott, Ariz., to help. Affiliated with the Sharlot Hall Museum of Prescott,
they pay their own expenses on yearly trips to paleontological sites.
"I brought the survey instrument with me, and I would just go wave the survey
instrument and they would pick the bone up, right on that point," Jones said. "I
would say, 'Dig,' and they dug.... We weren't looking for a hadrosaurus."