Whew! It's already December and my head still hasn't stopped spinning. 2008 was filled with lots of wild ups and downs, good news and bad, but not much on the discovery front. This year our tours were really in high gear. We were concerned that with gas prices reaching nearly $5.00/gallon that the tourist season was going to be a bust, but for some reason we were packed. We had a large school group from Brooklyn, New York for a three day, special trip in May. This was a lot of fun, but it took up much of my time. By late June-early July, we were turning people away on our regular family tours because all available dates were filled up. I simply could not get away to do exploration.
The summer of 2008 was also busy for two other major reasons. 1) We welcomed another addition to our family. Stephen Alexander Stein, future dinosaur digger, was born on August 14th, 2008. He is the light of our life but like all newborns requires a lot of attention. 2)We made our first large skeleton sale that had to be packed, shipped, and crated by early August. So, as you can see we had little time for exploration this summer.
Despite the lack of time, we were able to do quite a bit of work at our two main fossil quarries TD (Tooth Draw) and ENS (Enigma Site). A lot of really interesting microfossils were found at both. From site ENS we recovered some Raptor material which is of great interest. Unfortunately, no skeleton, just isolated bits and pieces. We also really opened up our Tooth Draw quarry, removing over 30 feet of overburden above the bone bed. A lot of microfossils, juvenile dinosaur bones and T. rex teeth have been found thusfar and I anticipate more to come. Towards the end of September, we also found some larger bones (femur and scapula) heading in the other direction on the opposite wall, so this spot is very rich. Next summer is sure to produce even more interesting fossils from that locality.
We also finished excavating our Plesiosaur (nicknamed "Doc") skeleton from the depths of the local Greenhorn Formation. Doc was discovered in May of 2007, but various issues prevented us from finishing the dig last season. This year, we returned and found more fragments from the base of the hill. These are mostly rib and vertebral chunks, but are solid enough to suggest that they can be put back together again, with some considerable time and effort. Over the last few months, we managed to somehow find the time to finish initial preparation of the bones and isolated fragments. Our job now is to try and piece all the weathered fragments back together again like a giant jig-saw puzzle and try to determine once and for all its genus and species. We have compared our skeleton to the Pahasapasaurus specimen recovered at Fruitdale way back in 1934. Based on differneces in the vertebrae and the paddles I do not believe they are one in the same genus. By Spring I hope to have enough of the specimen put back together again to write a paper on it's collection. This work is currently in progress.
Next season, we have a potential duckbill skeleton to investigate, along with continued work at TD and ENS and two new sites... TD west and the Kathy site.