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Royal Tyrrell Museum Field Update- July (1st half)


 Due to continued server problems, I am no longer getting dinosaur mailing
list or digest updates (at least fully) and am not even sure if this is even
getting to any of you. If you are reading this, I'd appreciate a quick "It
made it" email from a few of you. It appears I have not recieved ANY of your
emails from approximately July 1-8, so please repost any personal emails to
me. I leave for the Park again on the evening of July 13 and will try to
respond to your queries.

 Our weather has been much improved of late which is reflected in our
enhanced field results outlined below:

 1. Dinosaur Park (DPP) GORGOSAURUS Quarry. Philip Currie is now in DPP
(till about the end of August) and heading up this dig. Much overburden had
been removed prior to his return so he was able to start uncovering new
bones right away. Last year the pelvis, most of one hind leg (most phalanges
excepted), part of the other hind leg, a few articulated caudal vertebrae, a
furculum and a few dorsal ribs were found. So far this year, he and his crew
have uncovered another metatarsus, a tibia with astragalus attached, and 4
new dorsal ribs. As expected, the tail continued back into the hill but
stopped at about number 15. When I left for days off the crew there
announced they thought they had just found the beginnings of a dentary. The
overburden will probably have to be move back once again. Once this site is
finished, Phil plans on doing prospecting to find new specimens.

 2. Bonebed 138 (CENTROSAURUS). This quarry is going well with numerous
cranial elements (jaws, jugals, squamosals, orbitals, etc.) being found.
Unfortunately, no good adult parietals have been found so far. The orbital
horncores found in this site differ enough to be suggestive of a new species
and a diagnostic adult parietal or two with all their ornamentation intact
would help clinch this. This site is positioned right next to Little
Sandhill Creek, so on hot days the crew regularly jumps in to cool off.

 3. Bonebed 41a. (CENTROSAURUS). We are now finding lots of bones,
especially the larger ones. When I left we had collected one complete adult
dentary, a small squamosal and part of a braincase. Still to be collected
are (all adult), 1 scapula, 2 dentaries, 1 coracoid, 1 jugal, 1 partial
parietal, and several other assorted pieces. For juvenile or subadult pieces
we have: 1 femur, one dentary.
 We also found several associated salamander vertebrae and hope to find more
in that localized area. If there is more, it would be the first associated
salamander skeletal remains from DPP.
 The bone in this site is poorly preserved, almost like it was never fully
fossilized. Cranial elements (which were better ossified in life) are better
preserved in most cases. The consistancy of the postcranial bone internally
is best described as something between "lightly compressed hot chocolate
powder/cocoa and stale chocolate cake". The bone looks good at first, but as
it dries out in the hot sun (we've had several 36 C days) it literally
"crumbles into dust" and with the least provication. We are using lots of
glue. Also, the blocky clay matrix crumbles into dust. This combined with
friable coaly layers (from the branches and tree trunks also preserved in
the site) quickly makes for a messy work area. I have brought an electric
generator to the site and at the end of each day use an industrial vacuum
cleaner on the work area. Despite giggles from collegues, the use of a
vacuum cleaner in a site is a logical step. I can clean the entire area
faster than they (with their whisk brooms and paintbrushes) and get every
loose piece, especially dust particles. After a good vacuuming the site is
perfect for personal/scientific photography, film crews. Every bone piece is
perfectly defined for a fresh start at the beginning of the next work day,
which is important especially when we have new volunteers/participants
continiuosly starting at the site. A vacuum cleaner is something to
seriously consider if you are running a dig somewhere, especially in a
friable or dusty rock. Forget the little handheld ones, you need a good one
of the type you would have in your garage- the bagless "SHOPVAC" variety
that holds 25 kgs. (50 pounds) of waste.  

 We have no creek nearby bonebed 41a, so on hot days, unlike our
"competition", the bonebed 138 crew, we just work and work and work.

 4. Hilda, Alberta crew. They started there about 10 days ago. I have heard
nothing from them so I cannot make any comments here. They are working on an
ankylosaur skeleton and another CENTROSAURUS bonebed. Keep posted. 

 5. Drumheller EUOPLOCEPHALUS quarry. This disappointing quarry has now been
finished. Other than the skull/lower jaws, a few metatarsals, some ribs and
vertebrae, nothing new was found. The postcranial bone was crumbly and in
hard ironstone. The site was finished on July 10th. Some bones of other
dinosaurs (hadrosaurs, etc.) and fish were found indicating this site
actually part of a microsite/bonebed complex.   

 6. Quarry 75, DPP MYSTERY SOLVED! Many of you know I am trying to identify
an old unstaked quarry in DPP, mainly by use of old AMNH photographs, field
notes and an undated newspaper fragment found on site. The newspaper
announced an upcoming boxing match. I put a challenge out to you all
requesting information on the date of this match. Two of you kindly
responded "1921" which was a date much later than expected. The site
according to official maps is an AMNH Barnum Brown quarry and yet he was not
collecting in DPP after c. 1916-17. The backs of the photos say they are
AMNH pictures. A look at Levi Sternbergs fieldnotes for 1921 (the only
collector in DPP that year and NOT working for AMNH!) did not describe
anything similar to our mystery quarry, either by location or by skeleton.
So, stumped, I went back to the quarry and tried to find more newspaper. I
reasoned if there was one section of paper there might be more. You can
imagine my delight upon finding a small triangle of newspaper with the date
June 21, 1922 perfectly centered. In the old quarry photographs we can see
that they used hay as padding between the wagon floor board and the plaster
jacket. Well, believe it or not, 75 years later, I even found hay fragments
from the wagon inside the now eroded spoil pile of waste rock! 

 Near as I can tell, this "mystery quarry" is specimen No. 6-22 (CNHM
PR380), a headless hadrosaur collected by G.F. Sternberg et. al in 1922 for
the Chicago Field Museum. A manifest of photographs taken by them in 1922
describes subject matter identical to what our "AMNH" photographs show.
While headless, it is variously described in the Chicago crews fieldnotes as
"Corythosaurus", "Prosaurolophus" and "Trachodon". This is not a problem
however, as this expedition collected only 4 major hadrosaur specimens,
namely an isolated tail, a BRACHYLOPHOSAURUS skull, a partial KRITOSAURUS
skeleton including skull pieces and the headless hadrosaur No. 6-22, which
has booted ischia distally confirming that while headless, it is from a
lambeosaurine or "crested" hadrosaur. In R. Zangerl's 1958 "Dinosaurs,
Predator and Prey- The Gorgosaurus and Lambeosaurus Exhibit in Chicago
Natural History Museum", Chicago Nat. Hist. Mus. Press, 13 pp.; Zangerl
notes the LAMBEOSAURUS on exhibit was a headless hadrosaur collected in
southern Alberta in 1922. The LAMBEOSAURUS head (CNHM UC1479) was added
later on and is from another specimen entirely. This mount has appeared in
several books- see Glut, D. THE DINOSAUR DICTIONARY, p. 74. 

 From all this I conclude:
 1. The GSC 969A Steveville mapsheet of DPP with all its quarries up to c.
1940 is not entirely accurate.
 2. Not all quarries on this map have a quarry stake in them. Either they
were never staked at all (seems likely for most of the Brown quarries) or
stakes have been stolen.
 3. Quarry 75 was dug in 1922. The 1922 newspaper fragments were found at
the base of a pile of large quarry stone rubble which can be seen in the
original quarry photograph. I find it highly unlikely someone reopened the
quarry 6-10 years after after Barnum Brown and then tucked a piece of 1922
newspaper under the base of the original pile of overburden stacked off to
one side of the quarry.
 4. Quarry 75 on the GSC 969A Steveville mapsheet of DPP is listed as "?,
BB"- meaning a Barnum Brown quarry from which what has been collected there
is unknown. This should be changed to: "lambeosaurine hadrosaur, G.F.
Sternberg, 1922. CNHM PR380".

 This identification confusion can be a lesson for us all professional and
amateur alike. If the details of even an entire dinosaur skeleton can be
lost/confused, imagine how much easier it can be for a single bone. Precise
locality information (ie. GPS coordinates) and especially that supplemented
with maps and photographs of the site and with a quarry stake (as required)
are a must! All of this also shows the detective work that is involved in

 7. Drumheller Valley ALBERTOSAURUS quarry. Due to the incompleteness of #5
above, this crew will start on this quarry next week. Keep posted in next
update for details. We know it has at least part of a skull, which was
unfortunately vandalized and stolen (tourists probably) recently. Some
gastralia and the end of a ?tibia were also showing.

 8. Personal finds, DPP. The only thing of real note was a large chunk of
CENTROSAURUS nasal with a large forwardly pointing (curving) nasal horncore
that I found almost fully exposed on a hillside just waiting for someone to
come along and collect it. This will be done sometime this summer.

 9. Technician Clive Coy's last day with us is August 15th. He then moves to
Japan to start work at a new major dinosaur museum there scheduled to open
around 2003.

 10. TMP 94.143.1. DASPLETOSAURUS. This is being worked on in the lab in
Drumheller. It is the scattered skeleton that goes to the skull I was
working on last fall/winter/spring. They are almost finished preparation.
Another skull bone (left lacrimal) was found- it shows a depressed puncture
that might represent a healed bite mark or tooth puncture. Not surprising
considering all the other injuries present on the remainder of the skull.
For those interested, pictures of the skull undergoing preparation can be
found on Jeff Poling's homepage at: www.dinosauria.com 

 That's it. Please let me know if this made it into your mailbox. Next
update in about 12-13 days.

 Best,  Darren Tanke

Darren Tanke
Technician I, Dinosaur Research Program
Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology, Box 7500
Drumheller, Alberta, Canada. T0J 0Y0
Senior Editor on the:
Annotated Bibliography of Paleopathology, Dento-Osteopathy and Related Topics
11,364 citations as of March 7, 1997.
Visit our bibliography homepage at: http://dns.magtech.ab.ca/dtanke
Can you help with this ongoing project? Email me at: dtanke@dns.magtech.ab.ca