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Hell Creek report '96



Hello all,

The Dig? First let me say it was great! No, that's too poor a word.

Before I give my report I'd like to briefly address the never-ending saga
of the stegosaur plate debate; Apparently I offended some of those that
disagreed with my speculative thinking, and I did recieve a rather good
tounge lashing for allowing myself to attempt join known facts with the
laws of physics and observations of nature. It's ok though, 'cause I did
have some matrix left in the deeper cracks, and now I'm cleansed! ;-)

Now back to the facts.

Yours truely found a fairly well preserved pachychephalosaur skull in what
appeared to be a very hard channel deposit. I'd say at least 80% of the
cranial "dome" is there, with the hornlets along the "bald" area still
attached. Some of the nasal area is missing, but an apparent ocipital lobe
is at least partial present. No lower jaw remains were detected. Mark
Sumner and I, along with Erik Caldwell, exposed, jacketed, and extracted
the specimen. Since I'm not a degreed paleontologist and the team leaders
didn't see the buried side before jacketing was complete, my next statement
my be really all wet. Mark Sumner, a degreed geologist, and I agreed that
the 1-2 mm objects attached to the bone were dermal osicals, arranged in a
pattern, and well adhered to the bone. Not skin impressions but actual skin
remains! There was nothing in the matrix, a compacted
sandstone-mustone-looked-like-dug-like-motar, that even closely resembled
these objects either in size or shape. Until prep work begins the tiny
bumps will remain as forensic evidence based on the observations in the
field. I know, not supportable, unless you count photographic imaging. Time
will tell, as the perp work begins. The sad and continuing saga of this
beast is that there was no other bone within striking distance of the large
skull, and trust me I looked!

Also an equal number of jackets left our hadrosaur site as last year, half
a pickup bed load of jackets from a triceratops frill, both dromaeosauridae
and tyrannosaurid teeth and disarticulated bone, three or four different
turtles some very well preserved and articulated, possible anklyosaur
material, other hadrosaur material, teeth and skull material from young and
old crocs, an amphibian jaw with double rows of teeth., possible young
troodon lower jaw, and so many others I can't remember them all. Our crew
did a good amount of work this year, and I am once again proud to have been
a part of it.

I know one thing as fact. When other obligations are faced our team leaders
face a hell of a lot of work in opening those jackets and preppin' dem
bones. I wish I could be there!

If you have questions or seek further info please contact me off-list.

Roger A. Stephenson

"I God Call. I swear you got no appreciation for anything that aint work!"
"Fried grasshoppers?"
"I'm Blue Duck"
"I'm July Johnson and I'm the shriff"a Fort Smith Arkansas."
"They aint gonna hang Jake are they?"

[Just watched "Lonesome Dove", eh, Roger? "We don't rent pigs" -- MR]