Nature

Dinosaur Fieldwork in 2021 – Canadian Museum of Nature Weblog


Come the spring, I’m all the time itching to return to the sphere. Canadian winters are lengthy and darkish, and because the season wanes, I start to get stressed. The sensation was particularly sturdy this winter, being trapped as I used to be. Like so many others, I continued to work from house in my windowless basement workplace because the pandemic raged on. 

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has affected the Museum’s backside line, and so our analysis budgets have been slashed. Nonetheless, I rely myself fortunate that I used to be in a position to eke out a quick area season this previous August and return to my acquainted stomping grounds in Saskatchewan and Alberta with my graduate college students and new Curator of Palaeobiology, Dr. Scott Rufolo. Our plans have been scaled again this 12 months—there was little time to excavate a lot of something—and so the main focus was on documenting outdated dinosaur quarries. 

I’ve talked about relocating outdated quarries earlier than, however I’ll repeat the significance of such work. Roughly 50-plus years in the past, when digging up dinosaurs, palaeontologists have been primarily thinking about buying skeletons for show functions. Consequently, little consideration was given to amassing the kinds of knowledge that we deem vital right now for reconstructing the lifetime of an extinct animal. 

What info is commonly lacking from these early data? Data like the placement of the skeleton throughout the rock column, the kind of rock the skeleton was preserved in and the kinds of microfossils—maybe vegetation or small invertebrates—that occurred with it. It may very well be argued that, collectively, these sorts of information offers extra details about the ecology and evolution of a dinosaur than the skeleton itself! 

With these concerns in thoughts, we got down to relocate a number of scientifically vital websites. In Grasslands Nationwide Park, Saskatchewan, we documented the quarry the place famed dinosaur hunter Charles M. Sternberg collected the holotype skeleton of “Thespesius saskatchewanensis” (now referred to as Edmontosaurus annectens) in 1921. 

Two images of a dinosaur quarry with an inset of a dinosaur skull.
The holotype quarry of “Thespesius saskatchewanensis” because it appeared in 1921 (high) and because it seems right now (backside). Scholar Marissa Livius seems within the backside picture. Inset: Holotype cranium of “Thespesius saskatchewanensis” (catalogue quantity: CMNFV 8509). Picture: © Canadian Museum of Nature

We additionally visited the positioning the place the late Dr. Dale Russell discovered the world’s first child pachycephalosaur skeleton in 1973. 

Two scientists working in the field.
Yours actually (left) and pupil Bryan Moore (proper) measure stratigraphic part utilizing a Jacob’s workers on the website of a 1973 child pachycephalosaur discovery. The info we collected will enable us to find the place of the fossil materials throughout the geological layers. Picture: Scott Rufolo © Canadian Museum of Nature 

We additionally went to Dry Island Buffalo Soar in Alberta to report the quarry from which Sternberg collected a large Triceratops cranium in 1946. In between these and different website visits, we discovered loads of cool little fossils and a few thrilling prospects for subsequent 12 months.

Two images of a dinosaur quarry with an inset of a dinosaur skull.
Dr. François Therrien (Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology) joined us at some point to assist relocate the positioning of Sternberg’s 1946 Triceratops discovery in Alberta (1946 picture at high). Within the 2021 picture (backside), observe the metallic stake subsequent to him marking the placement of the quarry. Insert: Holotype cranium of “Triceratops albertensis” (catalogue quantity: CMNFV 8862). Picture: Martin Lipman © Canadian Museum of Nature 

The info we collected this summer time will contribute to the continuing thesis work of a few of my graduate college students, and to my very own research as nicely. In spite of everything, because the leaves begin to change color, I’m reminded that winter is coming and that I’ll be in want of new analysis to tide me over till subsequent 12 months… 

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