Seven people, two sites, eight shovels, six pickaxes, five army backpacks, and 20 gnat-fighting car scent cards.
Over the past two weeks, we’ve done a lot—carved up the sloping “humps” of Camel Butte, crawled and shoveled the surface of Hoff Ranch, inspected anthills, battled ticks and gnats, and trapped a dozen horny toads.
We packed away about 130 gallons of dirt from the sites–enough to fill an aquarium built to house a Catshark–and spent about 100 hours collectively picking through it with tweezers and dental tools. We took 44 soil samples for pollen dating, and found about 40 hatched rattlesnake eggs.
In the end, our tray of findings represents a hefty slice of Cretaceous-Tertiary riverine taxa: crocodiles, lizards, garfish, turtles, champsosaurs, and most importantly, mammals–15 jaw fragments and a handful of teeth from condylarths and multituberculates.
Most of the material will go back to the Peabody Museum to be catalogued and researched. The pollen sample results will take a few months.Peabody Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology Eric Sargis will take the mammal finds with him to New Haven, each one wrapped in tissue and placed in individual boxes.
For two weeks, it’s been a success. Tomorrow, we’ll drive back to Rapid City, South Dakota and part ways until the fall.