As customary at the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry, we often have to excavate bones that we could not get to the previous year. In the case of “Jimmy” our juvenile Diplodocus, several elements were discovered in 2011 and even though we removed as much of the disarticulated skeleton as we could, we had to leave some for this year. So “Jimmy” was our top priority on what we call “Limb Bone Ridge”. I am happy to say that we removed what we had to leave behind last year and found several new elements in the process, making “Jimmy” a mountable skeleton.
Over on the “Middle Quarry”, we have continued to whittle down a large bone jumble that is likely a juvenile Barosaurus (cousin to Diplodocus) that we had originally found in 2009. It’s been a slow process since the sandstone is much harder and it is a jackstraw of bones. It’s nearly impossible to remove bone without running into others. That being said, we have removed some “pesky” bones (such as a scapula and a pubis- hip bone). With these bones gone, we can get better angles to remove the rest of the specimen. So, hopefully in 2013 we can get to the rest of the specimen- which will also be a mountable skeleton.
In addition to working on our “old” specimens, inevitably we run into new material. This year, between “Jimmy” and another jumble on “Limb Bone Ridge”, removal of some very weathered and poorly preserved tail vertebrae revealed a very well preserved specimen (maybe even two). We definitely have a sub-adult (teenaged) Apatosaurus. This is the sauropod that most of us remember as “Brontosaurus”. So far we have a few vertebrae, both humeri (upper arm bones), radius and ulna, scapula, ribs, partial hips, both femora (upper leg bones), a tibia and a section of caudal (tail) vertebra. The bones are in a fine-grained sandstone and are well preserved.
In tandem with our excavations, our public tours have been a big success. In twelve days we had over 350 people brave the “rugged” county road, high temps, overbearing sun and, on several days, about 40-50 MPH winds. We had visitors from several countries and even more states. Everyone had very positive remarks for our Educators and staff on what they saw at the quarry. Over the years, the Hanksville-Burpee Quarry has really proven its potential as a long term educational/interpretive site!
So what’s the score? Got a lot of our 2011 work done in 2012, discovered several new elements to new dinosaurs, and had one of our most successful tour seasons. Long and short, it is time to go back to Burpee and begin to prepare these specimens for eventual exhibit and research. 2013 will come sooner than you think! But before we get to all of that….its time to get ready for the Hell Creek Field Season in Montana. Triceratops, T. rex and Edmontosaurus…oh my!