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Re: The (long) future of paleontology

How are you guys getting your hands so bloody? Did I miss something the one day I was absent in grad school? Now hitting my thumb with a hammer......just now getting the black nail off my left thumb from last season. No bloody hands for the last several seasons. Take it from me, wear those safety glasses though! ;-)

Most serious Hell Creek collectors had a sand box when they were kids and just never grew up. Dirt under the finger nails is a necessity for a successful day on a HC microsite.

I am going to start to use short wave UV light to look for the glint of enamel on teeth out on the outcrop at night. I haven't tried it yet but have the high intensity spot already acquired. The apparatus is a very high powered spot light used in the welding industry to look for bad welds (with a dye). I know it will work on ant hills to find mammal teeth (it works in my living room quite well. Teeth stand out like sore thumbs against the rest of the sand in short UV. This spring will tell me about the practicality of the technique in the field. I have to bring a small generator along on an ATV so I am slightly limited to my access because of the equipment. This particular high tech item may work in this particular location if you are just looking for teeth. Bones still are going to take the same old low tech approach as they are pretty much black under the UV.

The fossils from my ranch are not radioactive either but I have been given some Hell Creek dinosaur bone scraps from near Jordan Montana that are essentially nuclear waste. They are literally a source of x-rays which will penetrate building walls (according to my geiger counter). For those of you that keep dinosaur bones around your homes, consider that you might be putting radon into the air of your home from your fossil trophies. I keep those bones outside in plastic. I would suggest checking them especially if your kids are around them. I am sure that there are some Lane cabinets in various museums around the country that should not be sat upon (as it would probably compromise your reproductive capacity.)

Jurassic Park showed a seismic thumper finding a raptor so Hollywood is sold on remote sensing but I think high tech's practicality is limited to the big screen and perhaps the dry sieve screen in my case.

Frank (Rooster) Bliss
MS Biostratigraphy
Weston, Wyoming

On Jan 16, 2006, at 1:00 PM, Andrew Milner wrote:

I don't know Dann ... not getting our hand dirty and bloody sure would take the fun out of it. Field work is one of the best parts of paleontology in my opinion.

Andrew R. C. Milner
City Paleontologist
St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm
2180 East Riverside Drive
St. George, Utah 84790

Tracksite Phone: (435) 574-DINO (3466)
Cell: (435) 705-0173
Tracksite Fax: (435) 627-0340
Home: (435) 477-9467

Email: amilner@sgcity.org
Website: http://www.dinotrax.com

"There is no branch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps" -- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 1891

----- Original Message ----- From: "Dann Pigdon" <dannj@alphalink.com.au>
To: "DML" <dinosaur@usc.edu>
Sent: Friday, January 13, 2006 4:34 PM
Subject: Re: The (long) future of paleontology

Cliff Green wrote:

I don't know about the rest of the world, but here in Utah, the amount
of unretrieved fossil material is staggering. I can't even begin to estimate
how many decades or centuries it would take to dig up and discribe all of
the quarrys just here in Eastern Utah.

That's assuming of course that digging will still be required in the future. Subsurface remote sensing techniques may well become accurate and precise enough to never have to get your hands dirty (or bloody) ever again.

Of course, such technology won't be perfected to this degree for a while
(despite the opening sequences of Jurassic Park, which seemed to show
some sort of sonic device rather than the 'ground penetrating radar'
mentioned in the dialogue).


Dann Pigdon
GIS / Archaeologist         http://heretichides.soffiles.com
Melbourne, Australia        http://www.geocities.com/dannsdinosaurs