Last week, we returned from another amazing Field School. This year we had twice as many teachers! 19 K-12 teachers from Washington and Montana joined us in the Hell Creek badlands of eastern Montana to participate in on-going research into the extinction of dinosaurs and the rise of mammals.
Teachers arrived on the evening of the 26th, and we settled into camp. UW PhD candidate Dave DeMar had been keeping camp set up throughout the summer – 5 weeks already!
Day One: an introduction to reading rocks and finding fossils. Teachers learned how to identify rock and rock layers, and how to prospect for small fossils by crawling fossil-rich areas.
Have you ever heard that geologists lick rocks? It’s true! It’s a great way to determine the size of grains in rocks, which helps you identify them. (Just be careful what you lick!)
No big dinosaur bones today ! The first day focused on “looking small” and crawling the site for the tiny fossils of mammals, fish and turtles that lived alongside the dinosaurs.
Day Two was our big dino dig! A morning rainstorm threatened to wash our plans away, but luckily it dried up early enough. We headed out a rugged road, then hiked the last mile to the dinosaur bone sites.
Excavating the bones and protecting them with burlap and plaster stole the show.
The dinosaur dig was a success – several hundred pounds of everyone’s favorites, including Triceratops and duck-billed hadrosaurs, were excavated and hauled back to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.
Teachers and PhD candidate Jonathan Calede celebrate finishing the excavation of a dinosaur rib.
Taking turns hauling out a several-hundred-pound dinosaur bone by hand.
Jenny, elementary teacher from Monroe, hefts a jacketed dinosaur bone.
Teachers load a jacketed dinosaur bone onto a hand cart. The weight eventually proved to be too much for the hand cart wheels.
To be continued…
Thank you, everyone, for another great Field School!
The DIG Team is back in Seattle, more or less awake. We all took the weekend to relax and catch up on sleep, and hope you all got the chance to, too! Most of our gear is still in a huge pile in the lab, all the bones you all helped find, excavate, and haul out are tucked away in the Burke Museum. For the jackets, the next step is up to Bruce and his prep lab – he’ll open the jackets one by one and begin to prepare them (use tools to remove the rock matrix from around the bone). For the sediment, Greg’s lab will begin screening and picking some of the matrix – and a lot of it will end up in the DIG Boxes for you and your students to pick!
We’ve started a Flickr group to share photos and videos. We’ll have a nice recap of the Field School with lots of photos later this week!
Hiking out to the dino sites!