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Royal Tyrrell Museum Field Update (August, 1st half)

 We have recently endured some brutally hot weather here in southern
Alberta, Canada with daytime temperatures in the shade of +44 C (about 120
F) and ground temperatures in full sun of +56C (about 133 F). Dubious? These
are accurate temperature measurements made with laboratory quality liquid
mercury thermometors. One would argue that we have to use the shade
temepratures for the true temperature reading, but we work on the ground and
in the full sun, so +56C it is. Some of our participants, not used to the
extreme heat have suffered accordingly. Being tall and thin, the heat does
not affect me so much, but if you take your hat off for 5 minutes you
quickly start to feel the effects of heat exhaustion and heat stroke. Once
you leave the site and drive in an air conditioned van for 45 minutes, you
cool down real good. Then when you stop and get out into the blast furnace
temperatures in Dinosaur Park, you think "My God! I was working in that? I
must be mad!" The individual site reports are as follows:

 1. Hilda, Alberta crew.  The ankylosaur quarry has yielded a complete
humerus (upper arm bone), femur (thigh bone), tibia (shin bone), numerous
scutes and a semi-circular "collar" of neck armor plates. The rock and bone
are of such a similar color/texture that work proceeds extremely slowly. The
CENTROSAURUS bonebed work there continues. I gather the one test dig is
virtually finished and the loose clay just brushes away from the bone- no
real digging needed. One bonebed is distributed over several kilometres with
numerous bone concentrations found along the same stratigraphic level. This
should give us a better idea as to the actual numbers of the massive
ceratopsian herds.

 2. Drumheller tyrannosaur (ALBERTOSAURUS). This site is now done, and did
not yield any more bone other than reported in my last posting.
Unfortunately someone vandalized the quarry again and smashed all the teeth
out of one dentary. What would YOU do if you came around a corner and found
someone vandalizing your quarry site? Enough said....

 3. New EUOPLOCEPHALUS skull. This isolated find turned up in the Drumheller
Valley. A local landowner found it in a streambed. For once, Mother Nature
did a good job of fossil preparation for us. The top and sides of the skull
are completely cleaned off and in mint condition. The maxillary (upper)
dentition on one side is lost, I believe the rest is still covered by rock.

 4. GORGOSAURUS Quarry (Quarry 220), Dinosaur Provincial Park (DPP),
Alberta. This quarry, headed by Phil Currie is almost finished. No new bones
besides those reported previously were found. I got to work the site for one
day. Some time ago I reported a pathological fibula from this animal, now
were have found more traumatic injuries in the form of one fractured and
improperly healed gastralium forming a pseudoarthrosis or "false joint", and
4 large dorsal ribs from both sides of the body showing well healed
fractures near mid-length. Looks like a bad fall could have caused these.
Once this quarry is done, Phil and crew will do prospecting of the DPP
badlands. Phil is just wrapping up a Dinamation tour which I believe
involved a 12 day canoe trip down the Red Deer River, stopping at various sites.

 5. CENTROSARUS Bonebed 138, DPP. Work is rapidly concluding at this site.
When I left for my days off, they had just found what was looking like the
much sought-after parietal (frill midline) specimen.

 6. CENTROSARUS Bonebed 41a, DPP. Work continues here. The bone is still of
poor quality. After my last update, I got a couple emails saying "If the
bone is so poor, why bother digging it up at all?" Even though the
postcranial bone is poor, we can still get cranial material and the
necessary data required to support and/or compare our findings from the
other CENTROSAURUS bonebeds in and around DPP for our major study of
CENTROSAURUS bonebeds in Alberta. We can still get quarry maps, and
measurements like overall length, orientation in the rock, bone
density/distribution, geological and sedimentological data among many other
things. While most of the postcranial bones are of too poor a quality to
save, they still serve a purpose and can yield critical data useful to us.
Hope this explains things. While ideally we would like to get good
specimens, not all sites are conducive to this aim. BB 41a, unfortunately is
one of those sites (and it is the first in which I have experienced this).
The bone horizon in 41a is not level and has taken a relatively steep plunge
deeper into the rock. We are rapidly running out of time and I think we will
be working this site next year.

 7. New finds. West of Del Bonita, Alberta a skeleton of a 6 foot long (2
metre) hadrosaur has been found. It is to be collected sometime this fall. A
nest of about 10 eggs turned up at Devil's Coulee. These stories were on a
Calgary, Alberta T.V. station yet no one I asked at Tyrrell knew anything
about these finds. Keep posted.

 8. Manyberries, Alberta. At an undisclosed site Tyrrell technician Kevin
Aulenback assisted University of Calgary Ph. D student and dinosaur egg
expert Darla Zelenitsky with a site down there. Embryonic hadrosaur bone
WITHIN eggshell pieces was found. Several years back I heard some embryonic
turtle and turtle eggshell was found there too (though I have not seen it
personally). Due to lateness in the field season further detailed work on
this site will be carried out next summer.

 9. Hadrosaur Caudal Pathology Study. Several of you asked how this was
progressing. I'm examing/measuring/documenting all hadrosaur tail vertebrae
I can find in DPP or from that region in museum collections, to establish
frequency rates of osteopathy in juveniles, subadults and adults and from
base of tail, middle of tail, end of tail and extreme end of tail. Vertebrae
have been collected the past 6 years. So far I have entered 1,963 vertebrae
onto a large database. I have 500-1,000 more specimens from DPP to add to
the database, then I have to add museum specimens (about 500 more). I remain
confident that one might be able to identify isolated centra to genus level.
When you see many hadrosaur caudals, you quickly begin to see that there are
varying shapes to the centrum. These differing shapes I believe are
genus/species-related. If so, this would provide an excellent tool for
population dynamics, species distribution, etc.    

 10. DASPLETOSAURUS maxilla, DPP. Reported in previous postings, this large
upper jaw was collected with no complications. I hope to prepare it sometime
over the fall/winter/spring.

 This will be my second last update until I return from fieldwork with
Brooks Britt (Museum of Western Colorado, Grand Junction, Colorado, USA) and
the SVP meeting in Chicago. I leave for fieldwork in Utah on Sept. 1st and
return to Drumheller around Oct. 12.

 Darren Tanke

Darren Tanke, Technician I, Dinosaur Research Program. Royal Tyrrell Museum
of Palaeontology, Box 7500, Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. T0J 0Y0
Senior editor of the ongoing:
Annotated Bibliography of Paleopathology, Dento-Osteopathy and Related Topics.
11,635 citations as of July 27, 1997.
Visit our bibliography homepage at: http://dns.magtech.ab.ca/dtanke
Can you help (translations or financial support) with this ongoing project?
Email me at: dtanke@dns.magtech.ab.ca