Aja Hannah: June 2010 Archives

dinoEnding

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We caught a blue-bellied lizard in the field today!

After a night of good sleep, I will be headed back to home. My last day was spent in the field at CB, learning a bit of pedastaling, but mostly spending time with the friends I have made here.

BTW: To pedastal is to slowly chip away the matrix an inch or so from the bottom of the bone, in preparation to remove the rock or jacket it with tinfoil or burlap.

Today was also the hottest day, upper 80s, and they told me that it gets even hotter as the summer wears on. I can't imagine working in that. We were chased off the mountain by another storm. Apparently, the rains stop at the end of June and Wyoming plants wither and brown.

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(Site locations: TH has now been worked through to be CB, this only shows one side of mountain)

While chipping and resting, we talked of crazy relatives and pregnancy, made-up families, and pop culture (movies, music, books, web videos). Web videos like the Yes Dance and Jurassic People. The interns also like to make-up stories one-by-one.

I came out with two certifications and residual knowledge also for molding and casting and intermediate prep lab. I wasn't able to make the time requirements for the intermediate certification. However, we were welcomed back next year also.

People in Thermopolis

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My journey is coming to an end and I feel I should write a bit about the people. Thermopolis, with its Hot Springs State Park, sees a lot of tourists during the summer.

Today there was a car show. I don't know a lot about cars, but they were cool-looking. Antiques, corvettes, mote carlo, vipers, mustangs between 1920s and 2008.

On normal days, the town is pretty quiet, older folks walking the park. The first day at the Dinosaur Center, we met two young women that work behind the counter. They gave us their numbers and told us to call them if we ran out of stuff to do.

I would have loved to call them, I should have, but I never did run out of things to do. The Wyoming Dinosaur Center has an intern house down the road from it. Every so often we got together to play soccer, watch Jurassic Park (with our own commentary), or go out to eat.

People at the dinosaur center, despite some lacking formal college education or graduate degrees, are intelligent and easy to hold a conversation with. It's difficult as a dinosaur person not to have a conversation about evolution or the ends of eras.

The townspeople are also very open. I only entered one shop the whole time that had propaganda and slander on the radio. I also haven't encountered any racism, which as a mixed kid, I worry about when going west or south. From a local, I heard that Wyoming is a pretty accepting state as a whole and Thermopolis even more so. If someone had seen something wrong going on, they wouldn't stand for it.

All in all, I've had a pretty good time and would one day like to return. My last day is Monday and then I'm in the air again.

Women and Thermopolis

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For women coming to Thermopolis, the grocery stores are small and there is no Wal-Mart for about an hour. You may want to pack extra products of your own.

For those with frizzy hair, though there is little humidity, it is very hot and the sun is always drying out my hair. I've needed to use so much conditioner just to keep it down.

My skin also dries out quick. The Best Western offers complimentary lotion and, aside from sunscreen, I recommend keeping your skin moist. The dust and dirt will otherwise get into the cracks and you will have a hell of a time trying to fix dry, sunburned, bug-bite-itchy skin.

Kids Dig Two

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On Saturday, there was another Kids Dig. This time the weather was nice and for the morning we went out to the hill. We worked at the BS site and many of the children found fragments of bone. Some they got to keep, others were big enough that we set them aside for study.

After we did some prospecting at the Sundance site. Sundance used to be an ocean during the Cretaceous. From the ridge, many rocks come apart and crumble down the mountain. Within this dirt pile thousands of shells, ammonites, and belomnites can be found. The best part: you can keep as much as you can carry.

The rest of the day went pretty much the same as the last Kids Dig. I taught in the prep lab while another group learned molding and casting. Then we switched, toured, and the kids went home.

They were a cool group of kids and smart too. It surprises me every time how much kids know and can soak up in an afternoon.

dinoCollections and Casting

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First, I took the Basic Prep Lab certification and Basic Field certification and passed both. However, the field was much harder. Even though it was just which is rock and which is bone, I realized that it was much more difficult because bone from different sites are made from different minerals and, therefore, are not always black and smooth. Some was white and smooth.

(Also, I had yesterday off because I'm worked Friday and I will on Saturday again.) Today, I learned a bit of collections and molding & casting for the intermediate prep lab certification.

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For collections, the paper trail is the most important thing. After touring collections, we (me and two other volunteers) learned how to file and enter into the database the bone I had completed in the lab.

Collections is important because it tells the scientists and visiting scientists what fossils we have and any pathologies (problems with bone like bite marks) for later research.

In some cases, fossils get assigned the same number accidentally or two numbers or none at all. Others have little to no information and the files between the field-lab-collections are really the only points of information because so many fossils are processed every summer no intern or paleontologist can remember all of them. Also, many aren't opened and prepped for years.

Molding and Casting is used to make recreations of fossils that are too fragile or valuable to science to toy with or put back together. The molds/casts can then be messed with and rearranged.

We actually used Legos to make an sealed unit that can be constructed, taken apart, and reused. Then we filled it with clay so half the mold can be created. After the mold is poured in and hardened (about a day), the Lego unit can be flipped and the clay taken out so the other half is made. I must wait the weekend for this to dry before I can do the next step.

dinoHalf Day

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I worked again at CB. The site has been redeposited which means the animal died in another place and weather, scavenging, or a body of water moved it to where it lies now. That is why some bones have been articulated, fossilized on top of each other where they normally wouldn't have, and why the bones appear scattered and out of order.

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(Total station)

We did some mapping today: total station and radio mapping. These maps allow us to take pictures of the fossils and construct a 3-D image of the remains and the earth around it. Not only do we keep count of all the fossils that come out of here, but in what condition and what position so it can tell us more about the Jurassic Period.

I need five days in the prep lab (complete) and five in the field. I need now only another half to full day at a digsite and to take the certification test. Because of internship work (at the new e-magazine HOSTAGE for the young and successful) and summer classes, I needed to complete some work that couldn't be done after 3 here (5 on the East Coast).

I'm not sure if I'll be able to complete the intermediate certification that I mentioned, but I definitely follow-up on writing the article. I will also try to learn as much as I can for intermediate even if I can't test for it.

dinoHalf and Half

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Today, I started work outside on CB field again. It has rained the past few days, water seeping and sitting under the tarp, and finally loosened the rock hard rocks. We were able to pull out several new chunks of bone, but many of them came out in several pieces.

Good news is that strange bones (possibly skull) have been coming out. A few days ago an "S"-shaped bone (ear canal) and a "U"-shaped bone surfaced near the same area.

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After lunch, I finally tested with two other volunteers basic prep lab certification. I think I passed. The exam was oral and I basically had to remember/memorize simple information from the 3 pages of the training packet.

(It was supposed to be a half field, half lab day, but it really ended up a dinoField: Day Four CB.)

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(SI)

When I returned to the CB site, I took pictures of the other near sites including SI, FS, and BB. SI is where it all really began with a camasaurus finding on a dried up, pitted riverbed. FS is controlled/rented by Malcolm, a man who works with the center and brings in his own interns. BB is where the bones I've been working on the prep lab came from those decades ago.

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(Bumps in SI)


Kids Dig

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I had Friday off - reason why I didn't post - because on Saturday I worked the Kids Dig. Parents sign their kids up for a fee and we (volunteers, interns, and supervisors) teach them the basics of Prep Lab, including air tools, and of field work.

Because of the rain, the kids couldn't go out into the field. Instead, they learned how to make a mold of ammonites or trilobites, paint and keep a mold of an allosaurus claw, dig out their own fossils to keep, complete a scavenger hunt, and in-depth tour.

It was quite fun. It was refreshing to work with children and to teach again. I'll be doing more of that as a summer camp counselor for Lifetime Fitness when I get home. That's right! I did find a job that works around this schedule. Though I worked there last year, I wasn't sure if they'd be able to work with my certification schedule, but they pulled through and I'm really excited to see the children again.

But back on topic, the kids in Wyoming had a great experience working with behind-the-scenes and with real paleontologists, touching real bones from the ground and even taking some home. As the program expands, children from further away attend. This time we had children from Texas, Colorado, Wisconsin. I wish I had that opportunity as a child. And, though they were excited, most of them were well-behaved for 5 to 10 year-olds.

dinoLab: Day Six

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Because of heavy rain this weekend, the crew had to work in the Prep Lab all day. The roads, muddy with clay, were too dangerous to drive up. I continued to work on the vertebrae that I started the other day.

The bone is so fragile I had to keep running thin/thick glue in the cracks and filling big chunks with epoxy. I also found, by accidentally breaking right through it, that the vertebrae has sheets of bone as thin as paper.

On one of the paper thin bones, I found two small holes and Wahl told me to document it as they aren't normal.

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Things to look forward to:
  • Tomorrow I take the basic prep lab certification test.
  • I have the opportunity to test for intermediate prep lab certification.
  • The rest of the week should be dry for more field work.
  • Wahl suggested Deposits Magazine may be interested in an article about my Wyoming Dinosaur experiences.


dinoHunger: The Grocery Hunt

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Everybody eats. The hotel has been kind enough to equip me with a microwave and mini-fridge. I can eat out and I do get continental breakfast. There are many local and chain places, but I need to pack lunches and then there's always the midnight snack.

There are several gas stations where I find the essentials, but they are a walk from the park. Blair's is a grocery store and pharmacy by Taco Johns/McDonalds/Subway. However, unless you stay further near the Rainbow Motel, you will want to go to Don's IGA.

Don's is less than a mile walk from the Best Western and Days Inn in the Hot Springs State Park. Don's also has a pharmacy, though I haven't yet needed it. I believe Don's is also bigger than Blair's.

When shopping I had to keep in mind that I didn't have a can opener, big bowls for mixing, or a stove. It severely limited my choices, though I did find these foods tasty and easy to make:

  • Chef Boyaredee
  • Hot Cocoa
  • Jello
  • Kool-Aid
  • Donuts, Chips, Cheeze-its, Goldfish, Crackers, Pudding, Cookies
  • Lots of bread
  • Sandwich meats
  • Hot Dogs
  • Tuna
  • Cup O Noodles
  • Granola Bars
  • PopTarts
  • Easy Mac
  • Bacon
  • Peanut Butter and Jelly
  • Popcorn
  • Betty Crocker Microwavable Mashed Potatoes (Garlic, Red, Loaded)
  • Fruit (Canned or Not)
  • Baby Carrots, other raw veggies

As you can see, I love sweets. You can also order delivery from Pizza Hut, who now does wings and pastas aside from pizza.

Tourist Adventure: Part Three

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Last Sunday, Carlos (my boyfriend and co-volunteer) and I walked into Thermop town to explore. We had been to Pumpernicks before, a quaint lunch/dinner restaurant with great burgers including bison.

This time we visited Thermopolis Cafe, a breakfast and lunch joint. It had the staple breakfast foods and burgers (a little bigger and more expensive than Pumpernicks) and vibrant western paintings with reds and purples and greens. The backs of the waitresses shirts also say "Mmmm..." I chose their special, jumbo shrimp, and I said "Mmmm..." too.

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These shops are on the main street which has the only traffic light in the entire town. Behind the light is a mural that defines the town: Dinosaurs!

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As it was a Sunday, not much was open and we couldn't visit the Thermopolis museum or malt shoppe. We visited the dollar store, looking for souvenirs for family, when we found a great painting. Of course, it wasn't a dollar (almost $20), but the tiger was so captivating and the frame came with it. It also would in the suitcase and we seized the opportunity.

dinoLab: Day Five

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I finished the Prep Lab work week! I have yet to take the certification test, which can actually count towards a degree in paleontology because work experience is needed. (And I actually think this is for a higher degree like a Masters or PhD.)

Because I finished the the Ischia bone, I started a new bone for prepping. It is a cervical (neck) vertebrae of a sauropod that we think is a diplodocus. The bone is also from BB site, but from 1998!

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Carlos Peredo working on the vertebrae

Side note: Wyoming Dinosaur Center/Big Horn Basin Foundation doesn't always offer certification, but they always need volunteers. Despite only being able to work in the field and bring in bones 4 months out of the year, the center has stacks of bones that will take them decades to work through.

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(The stacks)
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This time I started from the beginning, pulling it out from the cast (tinfoil, not paper mache) that was put on in the field and piecing it together like a jigsaw. So many bone fragments were missing though and I had to use colored epoxy to strengthen the overall structure.

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The bone was initially over-prepped in the field which made it very fragile and hard to put together. I'm glad I came across this bone as an example as I'll be doing more work in the field for the next few days.

Fossils need to be as exposed without chunks of matrix (rock) outweighing it, but not so much that it can't stand on it's own. That work is to be later completed in the Prep Lab. Glue in the field should also be used sparingly. If too much is needed, then it's probably over-prepping. Too much glue is also hard to get off the matrix, which then sticks to the bone, during lab prep.

dinoLab: Day Four

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We finally put together the parts of the bones (using 5 minute epoxy) we've been working on. This epoxy is not water-soluble and you should not wipe it or touch it. Let it drip and dry overnight and then break it off. Otherwise it will heat up and stick to you (forever!).

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The bone actually turned out to be an Ischia bone rather than a pubus. We also filled in more of the gaps with regular, colored epoxy. It measured 68 centimeters long, at it's thickest 26cm wide, opposite end 18 cm wide, and middle 10 cm wide.

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(The ischia is this part of the animal)

This process is called restoration and reassemble. We had to make sure the surfaces were clean before doing this so dirt and other materials didn't get stuck to the bone and mess up the alignment.

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(Before epoxy, see dinoLab Day One or Two for before air tools and scrubbing)

I also continued working on the little piece, chipping away chunks of dirt and rock using only minimal effort thanks to an air tool. However, the same air tool kept vibrating the fragments and breaking bone off. Every few minutes, I'd have to stop, glue the piece back on, and set it under the lamp to solidify. Eventually, I just turned the project over to the Prep Lab guy, Wahl.

Important Things I learned:

  • Clean up your work station periodically. This helps you to look busy when you really are just taking a break. Also, it keeps pieces of bone fragment from mixing with disposable rock.
  • Reuse and recycle. In a drawer, there are all kinds of canister lids, tongue depressors, broken toothpicks, etc. (More iSpy stuff)


dinoField Work: Day Three - WBS

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Working at a new and crumbly site today WBS, which stands for West Beside (or Big) Sauropod, and I saw my first dino tooth fall out of the ground. And it was a baby theropod allosaurus!

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Sorry about the focus, that was best I could get.

It was two centimeters in length and right after this we found another bone covered by orange rock. The tooth, we speculate, was shed by a baby carnivore that was eating the sauropod we were focused on. Carnivorous dinosaurs typically shed teeth like sharks.

It was in two pieces and the head field guy Tristan thin glued it back together. Surprisingly, it's mostly complete. We triangulated the discoveries and documented them on the map after assigning them a number, something you have to do for all fossils.

Jake pointed out that the tooth was found a 2:30 (tooth hurty). This great discovery came after digging all morning without any finds. We had been digging further on already documented bones, including this one that looks like a train:

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 It was just the right motivation as the afternoon sun started to burn. WBS sits on the opposite side of the mountain from CB, a little higher, and in a thicket paved by a road that throws you around in your seat even when you're packed to the max.

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Views from WBS and BS
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Tourist Adventure: Part Two

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OMG Bison!

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After visiting the hot springs walk and swinging bridge, I hiked up to the Bison Reserve/Buffalo Barns. Note: For this trip, you should take a vehicle. If impossible, bring a lot of water, sunscreen, and a hat and take a lot of breaks. There is little shade, the roads are long and the small hills are difficult in Wyoming heat.

I did walk and got sun sickness and a bit dehydrated on the walk back. Also, there are no fences between you and the bison, so it is a bit terrifying and dangerous when you turn a bend and there they are. Though I must say there were signs everywhere that said "Bison are dangerous".

The work was worth it. The view walking up the road is amazing. For the east coasters (again), the Rockies are nothing like the Appalachian. The reds and greens and plateaus and formations are flushed together.

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Every so often there would also be these mythical chasms, one named The Spirit Hole and the other was bigger and named for the Devil.

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Then the bison, giant animals who smell like cattle, I could catch their scent on the wind before I even saw them. From far away, their calves looked like lionesses.

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You can go to the Thermopolis website to ask for a brochure of these and other tourist sites. They will also send you a map. In most Thermop museums or hot tourist spots, there are also these brochures.

Tourist Adventure: Part One

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I realized that I did so much last weekend and haven't updated any of it. It hardly pertains to my dinosaur study/certification, but it does with my dinoAdventure.

I decided to do the tourist-y things in the Hot Springs State Park and walked past the Teepee Spa, hot springs bathhouse, and another hot springs pool. Behind these buildings is a path around the original hot springs that flow into the river. The springs had hot multi-colored water, surrounded by rock that looked like crusted sand dunes.

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This leads right to a swinging bridge that, as the name suggests, swings and bounces as you cross the river.

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From there we saw more hot springs and learned their chemical make-up.

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Almost everything is in walking distance (if you don't mind walking about a mile). You can go to the Thermopolis website to ask for a brochure of these and other tourist sites. They will also send you a map. In most Thermop museums or hot tourist spots, there are also these brochures.

View from the end of the safe, walkable distance:

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The CB Field: Day Two

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My second day on CB and so many bones were breaking my fingers got glued together from the thin and thick glue. Much later and with the help of Debonder, did my fingers come apart. The rain from the night before loosened the first and softened the cement-like rock. In other places, the rock was still as stubborn as ever.

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Intern Kelsey and her bone, which later needed glue.

After hacking away without success, the rock would suddenly fracture straight across the fragile bone. Pieces of rock, described by volunteer Carlos Peredo, as shrapnel shattered and caught in me in the face many times.

The good things is this day did not stretch on as my last out in the field did. As we chipped away, the interns, volunteers, and I discussed literature from The Outsiders to E. E. Cummings to Twilight. We swapped movie quotes and creepy internet sensations.
Before five (quitting time), the rains moved in and we packed up early.

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Ominous clouds in the distance

Thing I learned:
  • "As the crow flies" means the most direct route.

dinoLab: Day Three

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Picture of possible bite marks on my sauropod bone:
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I also found out that BB site stands for Bone Bed, where the fossil was found. It's down the ridge from the CB site, where I was for the first field day.

A little bone came out of the big, front section I was working on yesterday and I cleaned it up:

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Things I learned today:

  • Do not dance to the music in your iPod. There are windows behind my table so the museum-goers can see our work and us.
  • The Prep Lab is like playing iSpy. I found a Tostitos jar, kitty litter boxes and jugs, jeans used as a dust flap, and a buttoned-up shirt cut up to be made as rags.
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(View of my seat from windows)

The rotting of the bone (before it fossilized) has made it difficult to clean. Pieces keep breaking off and flaking, creating pocket-marks in the bone. So much thin glue was needed today.

I learned how to use epoxy to fill in the breaks. It has been dyed to closer match the color of the fossil and lines have been made to mimic the grain. It can later be painted to the appropriate color.

dinoLab: Day Two

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Things I learned today:

  • My bone comes from digsite BB and I have no idea what that stands for.
  • I'm working on the mid and front section of a pubis bone, which is near the hip.
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  • When brushing and picking away the dirt with water, if you pay close attention you can tell when you hit bone as it is slightly softer.
  • Some of the brown stuff is actually bone or the shell covering the bone and if you go further you scratch it off.
  • The fossils look better with bits of dirt still in between the grain as it adds definition.
  • You can blast away whole chunks of stuff or overprep the fossil so pay attention.
  • A vinegar/water mix can help remove tough dirt or glue and won't damage the bone as long as it's washed off.
  • It's more like everybody breaks a bone everyday than just once.
  • If you leave your iPod at the hotel, your mind will wander so bring a notebook to write down thoughts or you'll drive your partner crazy with talking.
  • No matter how many times I lotion my hands or condition my hair or stay out of the sun, I will feel dry and dusty and my hair will frizz.
Everyday paperwork for these fossils also has to be written out. It starts at the field if any chips or breaks occur then. In the lab, we have to document the number of the bone, who worked on it, for how long, where we worked, who assigned us this project, any findings (like bite marks), any injuries to the bone (like a scrape or something that needed glue), and draw the important marks on the fossil.

dinoSafety

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The Prep Lab sounds very much like a dentist office. Then again, many of us are using dental tools (picks, saws, drills). The constant whirring can be deafening though and if you're using an air tool the vibration can get in your hands so that they tingle long after the day is over.

The work is in your head too. I close my eyes and see a toothbrush moving over rock vigorously or a chisel in my hand while I labor over a slab of rock in the dry Wyoming heat. I have to remind myself not to pinch the tools so hard or my hands will swell up again. Carlos, my fellow volunteer, feels his finger is nearly broken from missing the chisel so many times.

I feel this is a good time to mention safety precautions:

In the Prep Lab
  • When working with air tools, wear goggles as chips and dust while always hit your face and eyes.
  • If in close quarters with air tools, wear a mask or you will inhale those chips and dust.
  • If using the abrasive air blaster, wear gloves (unless you're a manly man) or feel the sting of high pressured baking soda.
  • Prop up your fossil and arm so that they are level with socks and bits of jeans filled with sand.
  • Check that your grip is loose every five minutes.
  • When the whirring starts to hurt and you cannot carry a conversation with the person next to you, put in ear plugs or ear muffs or headphones and crank up your music.
  • Put all electronics away, hidden deep in your pockets or in sealed baggies or outside the lab, as it will get covered in dust and ruined.
  • The same goes for clothes, jewelry, anything nice.

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In the Field
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Take breaks.
  • Use the bathroom before you leave as the only thing is a scary port-a-potty that feels like it will be blown away or attacked by a rockslide while you're in it.
  • Wear and bring extra sunscreen.
  • Use chapstick or suffer cracked lips that your girlfriend will not kiss.
  • Wear boots, rocks and tools will always be dropped and the wildlife cannot be trusted to not eat you.
  • Bring extra water and a first aid kit.
  • Watch your mouth as tours with little children are given regularly and occur right above your head.
  • Do not freak out when going up or down the mountain even though there are no guard rails and you are sure the driver is going to fast.
  • You will not find that wild turkey on the opposite hillside no matter how many times it gobbles. Let it go and get back to work.

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The CB Field: Day One

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Today, I worked in the field. Wyoming Dinosaur Center has several working sites and the one I worked in (for short) is CB. Every site has an abbreviation for this. CB means Cheryl's Blind, named for a woman who stumbled over a dinosaur bone.

We were on a side of the Wyoming cliffs/mountain.

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That bone led to a series of excavations including a baby allosaurus, adult allosaurus, and a sauropod that had been eaten and shoved into the muddy shallow lake of the Jurassic. The site has already been dug down several feet and the crew identified several bones. Today, our objective was to get as many out as we could before the rains return.

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Anything black or dark is bone, like the bone near the bottom of the picture. The white is solid rock and we had to use a pick to get most of it out, using short brushes/dustpans to sweep out debris. Sherrie, a center's worker, can be seen in the background.

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The struggle was long and hard, eventually we tired and went to lunch. When we returned, we took a circle saw to it and carved grids to make the chipping easier. We pulled out several pieces including a thin bone that had crystallized on the inside.

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dinoInjuries

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In my last blog, I mentioned how I needed to stop my intense gripping of the toothbrush and other tools. By last night, I had overworked my arm so much that my arm swelled from my elbow to my fingers and the pain was unbearable.

The hospital is a close walk from my hotel and I would have gone if I hadn't called my dad first. He advised me to take so much ibuprofen and put heat and ice on it. Over the course of the day, the swelling went down and I could work some, but I had to take it easy because the pain would still flare up. However, I do have bad circulation and the change in altitude may not have helped.

So note to non-paleontologists: Being eager is great, but watch your pace and grip or you will be in pain.

dinoLab: Day One

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I visited the museum section of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center yesterday and did the touristy things: visiting the gift shop, taking a lot of pictures, and reading the plaques/info/etc. There are so many good pictures from this adventure that I will probably make a video out of it over the weekend or post them as an album on Facebook (which I will make public).

I also saw the Prep Lab, which is where I worked today, and I am so excited to return tomorrow. To hold a bone from the Jurassic with my own hands, see it, and pull it out of the dirt is an elating experience especially after it takes shape.

A bone mostly removed from the plaster chunk it was transported in:

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We arrived at 7:30, got the run down, and started work on a Pubus bone of a sauropod. We were trying to scrape/blow away the dirt and rock (called martix) from the actual bone. I was instructed by the Head Prep Lab guy Bill Wahl (who actually hails from Louisiana).

Like in Jurassic Park (3?), once you got into the work it was easy to tell the rock from bone (even though the fossil is chemically close to the make-up of rock). The bone was black and smooth while the surrounding rock was white and rough.

I first started with a toothbrush, water, and a dental pick using the flat side to scrape (NOT the pick) and worked with the grain of the bone. Then a chemical acetone to remove solidified adhesion (thin glue and an accelerate) that had previously been put on to hold the fossil together during transportation.

Some of the adhesive was still necessary, but other bits had leaked onto the surface, obscuring the lines of muscle wear in the bone. I used a blunt X-acto knife to get under and flick up some loose peices.

My beginning workspace:

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One my piece (the mid section) I found muscle scarring, appearing as a knot that obscures the regular lines of muscle imprinted. See the three connected triangles of dirt? That's muscle scarring. Other things to look for were impressions, breaks and odd regrowth, and tooth/bite marks.

After, I used air-pressure tools to saw and hammer away the hard thick rock. The last thing I learned today was the air-abrasion blaster. It used thin stream of pressurized air and baking soda to blast (as the title suggests) difficult pieces of dirt, adhesive, etc.

At a point, I blasted away too much of the dirt, piercing the bone layers, making grooves. Many time, like my mishap, the pieces cannot be recovered. But I learned how to use adhesive myself so it couldn't happen again.

One of the other workers told me that everyone will break a bone and not to worry. Now I've just got to stop gripping the utensils to hard. It's making the joints in my fingers tense up.

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