Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

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The palest ink is better than the best memory.    
Chinese Proverb

Notes from the Field - The Latest News!


This is another year your usual note writer Dr. Larry is not able to join the group in Wyoming. McKenzie Martin has agreed to provide the inside information for the daily notes. Her efforts are appreciated.

All times given are Texas time, [CDT (Cretaceous Daylight Time)]. Local time is actually one hour earlier [MDT (Mesozoic Daylight Time)].

Wednesday, 30 May
Packing day!

The trailer is partially filled with equipment and supplies for the expedition—oh, there is some room for some personal items of the participants! Tomorrow at 8:00am the expedition is scheduled to depart!

Thursday, 31 May
The 2018 Season officially gets underway!

The caravan consisting of the usual truck with trailer and two vans pulled away from the campus of Southwestern Adventist University at 9:08am.

At around 10:20 am the caravan suffered its first (hopefully last) flat tire of the season. Luckily the tire on the rear-left of the trailer blew and no one in the vans were harmed. This daunting situation was a quick fix with the brawn and brains of Dr. Wood, Daniel, Wallace, Mikey, and several others who successfully got us back on the road in less than 30 minutes. Interestingly, the tire blew at the same location of the flat tire summer 2017.

Around 1 am Mikey was dropped off at the Denver airport to accompany additional participants of the dig.

The group travelled well into the night. In the early morning hours, many of our foreign participants saw their first ever raccoon which ran by the road and then frantically ran in front of one of our vans. The remorseful driver, who will remain nameless, handled this unlucky situation with grace.

Friday, 1 June
At 3:43 am exactly the caravan crossed the Wyoming state line. Those who were unfortunately awake at this time had high hopes of a speedy arrival.

A little after 9 am the group arrived at the site! The group was cheerfully welcomed by Stephan and Dawnella Gray, Amy and Karen, who had already begun the preparation and set up of Camp Cretaceous. Everyone worked well together setting up camp. After a delicious lunch, groups headed out to Newcastle and Rapid City to buy last minute items, bulk food and new arriving participants, respectively. The group that travelled to Newcastle got a little dazed and confused on the way back to the camp as a wrong turn was made and they ended up roughly 20 or so miles in the middle of beautiful Wyoming. Fortunately, the lost group found their way back to camp just in time for Karen's delicious vegetable stew.

While everyone else ate, Micah, Sofia and Taylor helped pitch Kathleen's tent. They did a job well done.

Camp Cretaceous was extremely grateful to have Brenda and Al join us today. If it weren't for Al, the camp wouldn't have running water! Brenda also blessed us with delicious, homemade rhubarb crisp. We are very thankful they could be with us today. Happy 50th Anniversary to Brenda and Al!!

Day was dying in the west as Dr. Chadwick led our first worship of the month. A few songs were sung, and emotional blessings were shared by many of the campers. It is a peaceful night.

Saturday, 2 June
Camp Cretaceous awoke after a long and much needed night of sleep. Although it was chilly in the morning, the kitchen was buzzing with excitement and hunger for Dr. Turner's famous biscuits. The biscuits were not as tasty as when he makes them, and they were a little flat, but they did the job.

After breakfast we all gathered around the camp tent for worship and song service. Dr. Chadwick gave a powerful message about creation and the importance of recognizing God as our Creator.

Some peaceful time passed between worship and the main excursion for the afternoon. At about 3 pm, the two vans were loaded for a tour of the Hanson ranch. An entire Wyoming ranch can be hard to see in just one afternoon, so the tour consisted of the highlights. The Cheyenne river was much higher than usual due to a very rainy season. Those who dared to cross the river rode in the practical yet very fun river trolley that is suspended across the river.

After seeing the beautiful ranch, the tour vans jolted and jarred their way back to camp on the dusty roads. Dinner was waiting on their return, and shortly after worship was held under the camp tent. The mosquitoes were vicious and very hungry. Dr. Chadwick's beloved family joined us during worship.

The day came to a close.

Sunday, 3 June
Crazy Horse Volksmarch!
Breakfast was made, people packed their lunches, and off the group went to hike Crazy Horse! Some stayed behind to prep the camp and quarries for digging. Their work went above and beyond.

To some, Crazy Horse looked like it had the previous 3 years, nonetheless it was a riveting hike. The group was unexpectedly turned away due to confusion about the tickets and the hike was one of the longest hikes in the history of Dino Dig (3 1/2 hrs).

While they were at Crazy Horse, Taylor got the email of her favorite paleontologist Peter Larson.

The group could not go to Mount Rushmore because the hike finished so late, so they went to the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research museum and saw Stan and Sue replica and many other amazing dinosaur bones.

They finished up the day with yummy pizza and a skip and a hop back home.

Monday, 4 June
Dig time! After a yummy breakfast and inspirational worship, those who are new to the dig were instructed by Dr. Chadwick and Dr. Wood on the basics of digging and watched an instructional video. Everyone was divided into 4 different quarry groups run by the different leaders. Dr. Wood ran North quarry, Dr. Chadwick East, Stephan Triceratops, and Kathleen South quarry.

Between 9:30 and 10 am each quarry went their separate ways for the first day of digging. Some trekked the mile from Camp Cretaceous to North, South, and East quarries. Others rode in the vans. Stephan and Dawnella took their crew out the farthest to Triceratops quarry.

Between 10 am and noon many dug their first ever dinosaur bones which haven't seen the light of day in a very, very long time. Between North and South quarries, many "neat" bones were found. At South there were a handful of unique discoveries including a T-rex tooth found by Shirleen! Although East didn't find any bones, spirits were high. At noon, a nasally voice fuzzed over the radio announcing that battle-star galactica had "landed" and it was time for lunch—a decent attempt at mimicking Dr. Turner's famous lunchtime announcement. After lunch the quarries were busy again shoveling, picking, and scraping layers of dirt to uncover precious dinosaur bones.

At 5 pm the quarries began closing and heading back for a delicious curry dinner made by Stephan and his group.

After dinner, Dr. Chadwick gave his first lecture, an introduction to dinosaurs and a brief history of the Southwestern Wyoming Dinosaur Project!

The day closed with a vibrant and beautiful sunset.

Tuesday, 5 June
The day was off to a rocky start for some, literally! Some were unfortunate enough to find only rocks or less, but the majority of people found a large variety of bones. East quarry finally struck bone and uncovered an encouraging amount. Triceratops quarry group spent the day scouting for a new dig site to the east of the quarry, successfully finding and marking what they believe to be the bottom and top layer of the bone bed. Thanks to Daniel and Micah, many bones were discovered sticking out of the layers of shale, which were then marked with blue flags for later digging.

At North quarry, Hazel unearthed a raptor tooth in superb condition! South quarry continued to find lots of large and interesting bones under the excellent leadership of Kathleen.

Another battle-star galactica "launched" at "launch" time in honor of Dr. Turner.

Today's dig ended with the anticipation of a thunderstorm. Wispy white clouds quickly grew into a massive storm as the two vans pulled out of the main quarries. A delicious dinner was devoured as the massive thunderstorm blew by.

Amy found a western gopher snake next to Karen's tent!

Mikey's back! With him came Rose and a group of her students from Idaho. More diggers = more bones!

After eating a fresh batch of warm chocolate chip cookies and milk, everyone petered off to bed.

Wednesday, 6 June
A series of unfortunate events happened today.

Triceratops quarry was destroyed by the "bovine gang". Stephan called it a "COWspiracy", and that the cows had a "beef" with the quarry crew, and they definitely "weren't chicken". The puns were udderly ridiculous.

An unusual amount people were bitten and stung! A wasp stung Taylor on her rear, Trudy was stung on the hand by a chalcedon checkerspot caterpillar, and one of Rose's students was bitten by a mystery bug. Fortunately none of the stings were severe or life-threatening!

Around noon, one participant felt lightheaded and sick so they were taken back to camp to rest. When they arrived at camp, Karen discovered that her car battery had died.

On a lighter note, Southeast was opened today for Rose and her students, a beautiful rattlesnake was found around the camp vans, and Mikey also joined us today with the GPS!

The day ended sweet with banana pudding.

Thursday, 7 June
We had a big thunderstorm. The weather quit playing with us and finally rained cats and dogs around the middle of the night, into Thursday.

Thursday was a successful day for many! Margaret found the vertebra of a crocodile under a wheel barrel, and Dr. Wood found a large, theropod toe bone! A small racer snake slithered by East quarry, making it the third snake of the season.

Camp Cretaceous welcomed Mark and Sue Silver, daughter Leanne, and Dr. Kirt Wise and his student.

The day ended with fresh cut watermelon.

Friday, 8 June
Instead of a half day of digging, Dr. Wood and Taylor took two vans and Dr. Chadwick's family on a full day of adventures! The day began with a visit to Mammoth Site of Hot Springs, SD, followed by laundry at the laundromat. After the group did their laundry, they traveled to Mount Rushmore and saw the iconic faces of the Black Hills. Although George Washington wasn't cheesin', Micah and I did while sporting our Hanson Research Station, Earth History Research Center polos!

Dr. Snyder and Ivan arrived in camp in the afternoon after traveling all the way from Indonesia!

Following Mount Rushomore was the beautiful Custer State Park. After a rock skipping contest, Dr. Wood led the way through tall pines, massive rock walls, and trickling streams. The Sabbath was welcomed in a secluded corner of the park. Bible verses and thoughts were shared by everyone for vespers. The day ended with pizza at a local Custer pizza joint.

At the end of the first week of excavation, we have reached a total of 370 bones recovered.

Saturday, 9 June
The first Sabbath worship at the end of a full work week was spent beneath the big white camp tent. After many hymns, Dr. Chadwick gave a rejuvenating study of the second book of Peter.

Around mid-afternoon, camp split up into three groups: one going on a tour of the ranch, the second to devils tower, and the third stayed comfortable under the shady camp tent.

Those who toured the ranch saw petrified wood and exposed dinosaur bones, rode the river trolley, and explored the micro-site. Those who stayed at camp chatted among the fold-up chairs or scuba dived and petted dinosaurs in the kitchen using the new virtual reality system set up by Dr. Wood.

Pockets and sandwich bags were full of micro-fossils when the crew returned to camp. As the evening cooled off, an interesting worship talk was given by Dr. Snyder. The second group that went to devils tower arrived to an every-man-for-himself dinner followed by a short night of sleep.

Off to bed for a too-short night then it will be off to the quarries again!

Sunday, 10 June
Today marked the beginning of the second week of Dinosaur Project excavation season. It was foggy and chilly this morning, almost like a morning in Georgia where the air is so wet and thick you can cut it. After a pancake breakfast and worship, the vans filled up and headed to the quarries. The misty morning quickly turned into a sunny and hot afternoon. Some adjustments were made in the quarries as new diggers arrived.

Our water reserve is running very low so only limited water use is allowed. It's time to bring out the baby wipes!

Dinner consisted of leftovers and very yummy rice made Brazilian style.

Monday, 11 June
During worship, Margaret shared a creative song she wrote specifically for the Dinosaur Research project titled, "I Left My Heart at Camp Cretaceous". All of camp had a fun time singing the song together! Afterwards, it was a usual day of digging. East quarry prepared for closing with the much needed aid of Ivan. North and South quarries dug up many beautiful bones and Triceratops lived up to its name by finding a very large triceratops vertebra!

Everett arrived today, and brought with him his signature salsa!

Water update: we have upgraded from sponge baths to a "quick rinse" shower, where any sudsing up is done before you quickly rinse off. After playing in the dirt all day, a quick shower is better than no shower!

The day ended with homemade oat burgers and potato salad.

Tuesday, 12 June
Today started a little prickly for Hip, a student of Dr. Chadwick and digger at Gar Ridge quarry. After a long and arduous hike from Gar to East quarry, he discovered he was not walking alone, but with several cacti stuck to his feet and tennis shoes. Next time, he will be sure to look were he walks, sources say.

East quarry closed around 4 pm this afternoon leaving an ilium and a couple of bones sticking into the wall. They will be uncovered hopefully next digging season.

Daniel was bitten by a nonvenomous racer snake today! He survived to tell the tale.

A quarry that has not been worked in a number of years since Dr. Neufeld was in camp, New Field quarry is in the beginning stages of re-opening. The bottom of the bone bed has been found, and already some large and interesting bones were uncovered by the East quarry crew, now New Field quarry crew.

The day ended with Everett's special peanut brittle. The first of the season!

Wednesday, 13 June
Wednesday was a typical hot day on the dig. At Triceratops quarry, the crew shoveled dirt and Brenda found and worked on a pubis bone. A couple of people decided to ride their bicycles to the quarry and back for some exercise and fresh air. At New Field, the quarry was still under "construction" as the depth of the bone bed was in the process of being determined.

The Squire family left after a fun one and a half week dig.

The day ended with a light sprinkling in the night.

Thursday, 14 June
Today was the hottest day so far, with temperatures reaching over 100 degrees! The new quarry welcomed father and daughter Wellington and Danielle. Taylor, Mateo, and Sofia dug "swimming pools" in the quarry.

Cool finds of the day consisted of a rib bone by Dr. Wood at Triceratops, and a theropod phalanx by Micah!

Friday, 15 June
Friday was a good day. Half of the day was spent digging and the other half was a day in town. One by one, groups were dismissed after an efficient morning in the dirt. Larger and more noteworthy bones were left out in the dirt for Father's Day, including many interesting bones found by Leonardo and tibia at New Field quarry.

Water update: "Real" camp showers were granted to the dirty dino diggers of Camp Cretaceous.

After everyone freshened up, trucks and vans were loaded with people and all their dirty laundry. In Newcastle amidst the humm and tumble of laundry, people chatted, relaxed, and played games. Shopping trips were given between loads for those wishing to shop at the local grocery store. Dinner was pizza at the Pizza Barn!

The caravan rode back to camp with clean laundry and box after box of leftover pizza.

At the end of the second week of work, we had recovered a total of 1011 bones, teeth, and tendons.

Saturday, 16 June
It is a cloudy, rainy day with showers of positivity raining down on Camp Cretaceous! After an non-traditional breakfast of pizza, Sabbath worship was given by Dr. Snyder. At 1 pm camp relocated for a traditional Sabbath picnic between the cottonwoods. Lunch consisted of hot dogs, salads, watermelon, and pink lemonade. The mosquitoes weren't the only ones hungry for a yummy lunch!

Afterwards, a group gathered around a large fallen tree and threw knives for fun. Many knives were thrown, few stuck.

Around 6 pm, camp relocated back to the main site. Street tacos and Everett's special peanut brittle were for dinner.

Sabbath closed with worship songs, special music, and a reading from Psalms.

Sunday, 17 June
Father's Day and the Open House for the dig site!

Happy rainy Father's Day!

Water update: There appears to be no shortage of water as it endlessly falls from the sky!

Unfortunately, the special Father's Day tours and the annual board meeting got rained out. To pass the time away, Dr. Chadwick gave a series of lectures for his students and also played several documentaries. Those who were not students found themselves relaxing in their tents, contacting loved ones, or twiddling their thumbs. The games bang and codenames were never more appreciated.

In need of fresh air, an adventurous group of 5 led by Ivan went mudding.

Daylight drew to a close, but the rain did not!

Monday, 18 June
Thankfully the rain stopped around noon allowing an afternoon of digging. Trash bags and duct tape were passed around the kitchen as people prepared for the muddy pits that awaited them at the quarries. It was all in vain. Many slipped and fell today in the mud, especially at Gar Ridge and New Field quarries. Some of those who draped themselves in trash bags quickly gave them up and had mud fights to make light of the situation.

Ivarrest quarry was opened today with successful finds.

There appeared to be more than one stick in the mud among the members of camp today. It is believed they have been feeling under the weather!

The day ended with tacos, brownies, and a beautiful rainbow.

Tuesday, 19 June
This is the day the Lord has made. Be glad and rejoice in it!

To enjoy another day of rain, participants were treated to a special movie featuring Peter Larson, Dinosaur 13.

Water update: the rain is still falling. During a brief break in the clouds, many found themselves outside playing football, kan jam, and ring toss. Unlike Sunday's rain day, everyone is getting pretty good at finding fun ways to pass the time!

Today was Summer Rose's birthday! To celebrate, homemade chocolate "coprolites" were served beneath birthday candles while Camp Cretaceous chimed in a very Happy Birthday song.

This evening, Dr. Wood led the class lecture on theropods. Check out the website DinoChecker.com to research any of your favorite dinosaurs!

The day ended with stir fry and fruit salad.

Wednesday, 20 June
Wednesday was the first full day out in the quarries since almost a week ago due to the rainy weather. It was not a full day of digging however, the majority of the day for some quarries was spent shoveling and slipping in mud!

Water update: The water has stopped falling from the skies. The clouds were menacing though, causing South, North, and Triceratops quarries to come home early in the anticipation of another downpour.

For dinner we had yummy tamale pie baked by the talented Gray's. We also had a variety of rice and a sweet and fruity drink!

The day ended with full bellies and a game of rook.

Thursday, 21 June
Camp Cretaceous awoke to a warm, sunny day! Everybody was excited for a day of digging under clear blue skies. After breakfast and worship the quarry crews headed out.

Today was a successful day for many quarries. Triceratops Quarry actually found bones! Vertebrae, lots of ribs, a femur, and another large bone were discovered by the faithful crew. New Field Quarry found many small delicate bones. Gar Ridge Quarry came home later than usual due to a large number of bones discovered before closing time!

Delicious Indian curry was made for dinner by Precious and the South Quarry crew. After an interesting lecture on the the most commonly dug dinosaur here, the hadrosuar, a thunderstorm tore through camp. Luckily no tents are lost. Yet.

Friday, 22 June
Although it rained the night before, Friday morning was a very productive, slop-free day of digging!

At New Field quarry, Danielle accidentally stabbed her index finger with a dental tool and fainted while it was pulled out! After a quick clean and bandaging, she was able to take out the ulna she had been working on at the quarry with ease. Her finger has healed quite well.

Most quarries headed out around noon. Some people stayed behind to finish pulling out finished bones. Ivan, Mikey and myself spent the afternoon casting my tibia at Neu quarry and a very large femur at North.

The usual laundry and shopping run was followed by dinner at Isabella's Italian restaurant.

At the end of the third week, we had discovered, located, and catalogued 1385 fossils.

Saturday, 23 June
After breakfast at 9, the vans loaded up for a fun day at Custer National Park! Baked macaroni and cheese, salads, bbq chicken and homemade treats were served for lunch. An enlightening Sabbath worship was given by Dr. Wood on knowledge and trusting in our omniscient Creator. Afterwards, camp split up into three groups, one going on the long hike to the top of Harney Peak, another hiked around the lake and falls, and another chilled by the water.

Poor Heip tried to hike the 2.8 mile loop around the falls with broken sandals and busted toes. Luckily he was offered a ride by a search and rescue man and made it back in time for dinner!

After a chilly dinner with hot dogs, the vans packed up and drove around site seeing the amazing rock formations surrounding the park.

The day ended with a cozy thunderstorm on the drive home.

Sunday, 24 June
This morning started off with thunderstorm. Luckily it ended around 11 am, but the damage had already been done. . . for the students! Because of the rain, Dr. Chadwick decided to give his last lecture and around 4 pm the students could take their test, which was originally planned for Wednesday. The rest of the camp hiked out to Gar Ridge, Ivarrest, and Attulah.

Attulah has discovered an articulated hadrosaur! A big success for the Dinosaur Research Project!

The students give a sigh of big relief as their month long class comes to a close. Worrying about the test is now replaced with worrying about their final grades!

The day ends with a delicious dinner given by Stephan and Dawnella.

Monday, 25 June
Monday was the beginning of the last week of digging. The quarries were in a scurry to pull out and plaster last minute big bones, finding many other neat finds which have to be buried for next season.

New Field quarry closed up around noon, with the crew going to North, South, and Ivarrest quarries.

The articulated hadrosaur at Attulah was in the final stages of excavation.

In the late hours of the night, Shari found Saturn, Jupiter, and Venus with her telescope.

A group of 6 set up sleeping bags at the hudus near cell phone hill. Sleep was peaceful with just a slight breeze and a roof of stars overhead.

Tuesday, 26 June
Happy 21st Birthday Ivan!

Big bones were foamed to boards back at camp in the morning. Those out at the quarries scrambled to excavate all they could on the last day of digging. The shed down at the main quarries was emptied and organized by Dr. Wood and other helpers.

As usual, cool bones were found. Dr. Snyder found a thesalosaurus sized mature rib!

Tyke made delicious enchiladas for dinner. To celebrate Ivan's birthday, Karen made carrot cake and an embarrassing birthday video of Ivan on his second dig was shared for all to see.

Wednesday, 27 June
After the last group worship brought to us by Heidi, the Grays and Heip packed up and left for home. The Snyders left before noon for Idaho, and the Chadwick family left in the evening.

As always packing day was chaotic. Everything was cleaned and packed away. Tents, tools, buckets, ATV's, fridges etc. were scrubbed shiny for next season.

Dinner was a myriad of leftovers. Afterwards, Hazel showed us a slideshow of the entire month. Kan jam and throwing knives were played in the evening before bedtime.

It was lights out at 10pm. Everyone crowded into the building, slept in vans, personal tents, or secret hideouts for their last night on the 2018 Dinosaur research project!

It was a bittersweet night.

At the end of the 2018 season, we had recovered 1797 bones, teeth, etc.

Thursday, 28 June
Up and at em at 6 am! The last breakfast of leftovers was served. Van 1 left for Rapid City before 7 am to drop off some participants at the airport. Meanwhile, those at camp helped clean up the kitchen, fridges, floors and bathrooms.

After clean up, the last person to close up camp was Dr. Chadwick. Prayer was given before taking off at 8 am!

A lunch stop was made in Sidney, Nebraska. Some had Wal-Mart, Mexican, and local food. After a long stop it was back on the road again.

The drive continued into the night. Some tried to sleep but those in Dr. Wood's van jammed out to music!

Friday, 29 June
The vans pulled into Southwestern Adventist University at 7:30 am, almost 24 hours after leaving Camp Cretaceous! A prayer of thanksgiving was given by Dr. Wood after the sleepy travellers crawled out of their vehicles. The trailer and cars were unloaded by everyone in about an hour. Friends and family arrived with hugs and kisses.

Strangers became friends and then family on the Dinosaur Research Project. After everything was unloaded, our colorful family crowded around once more for prayers and goodbyes.

In the evening, Dr. Wood and wife Heather welcomed the foreign participants to their home for vespers dinner. After street tacos, pad thai, and mint chocolate chip ice cream, games of pucket were played and conversations were had. Precious proved to be the pucket champion! Dr. Wood gave rides in his red camero!

The 2018 Dinosaur Research Project came to a close.

bones recovered                season progress

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