Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Hot, Hot, Hot...and getting hotter!

This is an overdue blog. I have been in the field for over a week and not had time to write my blog. That said, I have had time to mark exam papers, submit a paper, start a new grant and not sleep...tonight being a great example! However, the fieldwork has been most productive with several excellent fossils being plucked from the ground, by a VERY reduced field size, but not in enthusiasm! The reason for this years field crew being so small...well, we have been mapping the corners of our BLM sections. This is hugely important, as it constrains how and where we will get access to our excavation sites next this is when we intend to expand our crew and run the full dig!
A new site that has surprised us with some rather nice fossil bone!
We are also shipping some of the giant hadrosaur and ceratopsian bones back to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) that we excavated last year. The field-jacketed bones require careful packing in a vast wooden crate, that we will send ahead of us to New York at the end of this week. One of the AMNH Paleontology collections folks (Carl Mehling) is also with us in the field, as the 'Night at the Museum' museum is the designated federal repository for all the bones, teeth, scales and sundry that we have been extracting from the productive Late Cretaceous loins of the Hell Creek Formation. I think Carl is having fun....but the heat is baking him daily...which is clearly not much fun for him, as we hear many a groan and sighs, in-between his gasps at fossil delights.
Dr Victoria Egerton (right) and Dr Bill Sellers (left) work their way through a pond deposit in the Hell Creek Fm.
The bugs, snakes, and beasties have been pretty good this year...I am particularly happy about this, as prior years have had me donating large quantities of blood to the local mosquito population. We have only bumped into one rattle snake and that was yesterday, and yes, it made me jump high in the air and got my heart racing to the amusement of all. Our biggest problem at the moment is heat. Today it was around 100 degrees fahrenheit (this being nearly 38 C), making the treks between sites and any lifting very hard and hot work. Tomorrow (which I might add is already here, as it is 2am local time) will be even hotter, with a promised high of 100 degrees fahrenheit (that is a mind-addling 43 C). We are currently drinking 4-6 litres of fluids a day, but that will significantly rise tomorrow. When the ambient temperature is greater than your body temperature, you body and mind start to do strange things. The most basic tasks become ordeals, so the thought of lifting a 100 lb field jacket the mile or so a from our site to transport...fills me with joy! What should only take 20 minutes, ends up being a simmering 1-2 hour slog.
Lets just hope I do not meet this beastie in-person...this was a skin moult on our dig site....gulp!


  1. poor sod!
    I suffered similar temps, scorpions etc - and we found jacksh*t!

    well, we did find some stuff, but way below what the quarry promised.

  2. Glad you're having fun Phil!

    Care to mention whether these are new species of ornithischians you've hunted down?

    Looking forward to the new paper too, as always! :)