So the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry turned out to be one of those “once in a lifetime” dinosaur bonebeds, full of sauropods like Apatosaurus, Camarasaurus, Diplodocus and maybe even a Barosaurus. Every year of excavations uncovered more and more specimens. From 2008-2011, approximately five hundred bones from at least five individuals were found in an area as big as a football field. Interestingly, it seemed that most of the specimens looked rather “smallish”. For example, a large, adult Apatosaurus femur (upper leg bone) can be nearly six feet in height but the largest femur we had collected was only about five feet. In fact, we even collected a small femur and fibula that was approximately 20 inches in length. So we began to hypothesize that we might be dealing with a site that was comprised of mostly juvenile and sub-adult sauropods. One of the ways to test this would be to collect specimens and examine their long-bone histology, but I will save that for another post.
Amongst the specimens we collected, one began to appear more complete than the rest. Found by Burpee Board Member Joe Mongan, (six year expedition veteran), this specimen started simply as a more than thirty inch long sauropod femur. All around the femur more bones were found: another femur, tibiae and fibulae (lower leg bones), ribs, cervical (neck) vertebrae, dorsal vertebrae, forearm material, some hip material, and at least 20 caudal (tail) vertebrae. Based on the size it looks like this specimen was also a juvenile. This was definitely a mountable specimen and prime “histo” material.
When we came back this year (2012), we focused on this area and immediately found more elements (verts, ribs and another ulna). Of course, other finds were made. Veteran Joe Kchodl uncovered a new Apatosaurus femur, scapula, femur and tibia on the hill known as Limb Bone Ridge. Other finds included more of a possible Barosaurus that we have been collecting over the last several years.
Along with the work, Education Tours have been going along swimmingly! In less than a week over 100 people have visited the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry. We have had visitors from Germany, Belgium, the U.K, and several states. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. This site has all the trappings of a long term interpretive and educational site.
So as the title says, things keep rolling along!