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In our work in the Hell Creek Fm we have discovered a rather large
Triceratops h. skull in relatively good condition. It is in a crossbedded
matrix of dense sandstone forming a small lense in the immediate
surroundings, almost forming a concretion. We partially exposed and
re-covered the specimen, as time would not permit a complete extraction
during last years season. From reports by the owner of the land the
specimen has done well over the winter. It seems El Ninio spared South
Dakota from a harsh winter.
We have not delt with speimens as large as this and conventional jacketing
proceedures will only go so far. We estimate the total jacketed weight to
exceed 1,000 Lbs. and have a volume of aporximately that of a small pickup
bed ( nice scientific term huh ). I cannot see how plaster and burlap
alone could support the specimen, and I think 2X4 reinforcements will be
My thinking is that we should build an exterior frame of wooden supports
and encase this in the plastering process. Of course the pedestal should be
made as small as possible without risk of toppling the skull, and then
tunnel under the specimen from several directions. Through these tunnels
cotton or other natural fiber ropes would pass under and be firmly attached
to the wooden frame. As the specimen lies on the side of a small hill with
a fairly steep slope it would be easy to roll this entire unit over onto
the upper framework onto a loose matrix bed. Then the pedstal area could
also be jacketed and framed over forming a boxlike structure to protect it
during transport. Lifting this altered monolith will require more power
than a few humans can muster, so a backhoe or other mechanical force will
be employed to lift and place this on a trailer.
If any of you have experience in dealing with such large speimens, and
faced these problems before, I welcome any information you care to share.
Correct my thinking if I am missing something, please.
When we find that T. rex skull these same techniques can be used again, but
we want to get it right the first time, as this specimen will be an
important part of our collection. And our host has located another
Triceratops skull we will attempt to recover this season.
Thanks in advance,
Roger A. Stephenson
Assistant Director of Currations
The Grand River Museum
Lemmon, South Dakota