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Dinosaur Dreaming 2005 Field Report
The annual field report from the Flat Rocks (EK) site in Inverloch, S.E.
Australia, arrived recently. Here's a quick summary:
The report begins by saying how most of the last twelve field seasons
had been excellant where everything worked out as planned - and that
"The 2005 Dinosaur Dreaming field season was not one of them". During
the February field season this year, Victoria was hit by a 'storm of the
century' that turned the rock-bolted steel girders and tarpolins that
covered the excavation site (which is below the high tide mark) into
modern sculpture. The system was used to keep sand from filling the
excavation at high tide each day, to make it quicker and easier to
prepare the excavation hole for further fossil extraction. The operative
word here is 'was'. One of the steel girders was bent to a 40 degree
angle by the storm - which incidently was the same storm that eventually
passed right over my house (thankfully with no damage - although many
homes and shops closer to nearbye creeks were written off).
Freak storm problems aside, around 650 isolated bones and teeth were
still recovered in the 2005 season. These included four mammal jaws: two
of them Teinolophos (one edentulous), one of them Bishops, and the forth
an undescribed form of Ausktribosphenid. Some isolated mammal teeth were
also found - one about the size of a pin head.
Some mystery teeth were found that so far defy classification. One is as
tiny as a mammal tooth, but with a single root, which may be from a very
young dinosaur (if so, it's the smallest dino tooth yet found at the
site). Another is about the size of a hypsilophodontid tooth, but with a
wide bulbous root and a narrow crown unlike any other known hypsie
(which tend to be wide of crown and narrow of root).
It seems that Dinosaur Cove (in the Otway Ranges on the other side of
Melbourne from Flat Rocks) is still yielding discoveries years after it
was abandoned, as preparators are still working on a backlog of fossils.
The first ankylosaur vertebra from Dinosaur Cove has now been freed from
the matrix, and a monotreme humerus that was prepared many years ago is
about to be formally described. I won't mention the name (mostly because
I don't know what it is!), but apparently the generic name means 'frozen
digger', while the specific name is in honour of Cadbury's chocolate.
In 1987 (the forth year of Dinosaur Cove excavations), the hopes of ever
finding any mammal remains were wearing thin. One of the crew asked what
they would get if they found the first mammal fossil, to which Tom Rich
flippantly replied "A cubic metre of chocolate". Keep in mind that a
cubic metre would weigh about a metric tonne and cost around $10,000
Australian. Of course he came to regret his promise...
It just so happened that one of the field crew was a science teacher,
and one of her pupils was the son of the man who was in charge of a
Cadbury's chocolate plant (six degrees of separation at work!). He was
approached to supply a tonne of chocolate, to which he agreed. Around 20
of the Dinosaur Cove field crew turned up at the chocolate plant one
day, where they managed to carry off all the free chocolate they could
get their hands on - which turned out at a lot less than a tonne of the
stuff. Tom Rich was off the hook, and so the new monotreme species was
named after Cadbury's.
Two monotreme specialists have co-authored the paper (Peter Pridmore
from LaTrobe University in Melbourne, and Peter Gambaryn from the Uni.of
Petersburg in Russia), where they conclude that the 85% complete humerus
is less specialised in shape than that of the echidna or platypus -
pretty much what you'd expect given the highly specialised nature of the
living monotremes. I have no idea where or when the paper will be
published though, but I've no doubt the media-savvy Riches will get the
word out via newspapers and T.V. news reports.
Unfortunately there was little mention of the dinosaur remains in this
years report - those pesky mammals are stealing all the limelight
('about time', I hear all you mammal workers saying).
GIS / Archaeologist http://heretichides.soffiles.com
Melbourne, Australia http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs