Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

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Memory is the treasury and guardian of all things.    
Marcus Tutius Cicero

Notes from the Field - The Latest News!


This year the usual noted writer Dr. Larry is not joining the group in Wyoming. Sierra Chadwick has kindly provided the inside information for the daily notes during the time she was on-site. Her work is valued and appreciated.

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

Wednesday, 29 May
Packing day!

Thursday, 30 May
The 2019 Season officially gets underway!

The caravan of 17 took off from SWAU at 9:30 a.m., for a (fortunately!) uneventful drive to Wyoming.

Friday, 31 May
The caravan arrived at 9:00 a.m. for breakfast and setting up camp. As usual, they were met by the Greys, who had already arrived. Dr. Chadwick then left for Rapid City at 9:30 to pick up veteran arrivals Mrs. Wilson and Carolina. The morning's WiFi mysteriously vanished with him and returned with him! In the meantime, the Chadwicks and Mr. Sheel arrived to set up their trailers, and Dr. Snyder and his students arrived around the same time. After setting up, the Chadwick family left for Rapid City to pick up Rebekah and returned late that night.

Saturday, 1 June
Campers woke to the early sunrise and the calls of the meadowlarks. The staff produced the usual Sabbath supply of biscuits, gravy, grits, tofu, and eggs. Campers were slow to stumble in, which was fortunate for the chefs as they attempted to cook a crew's quantity of biscuits in one small, electric oven.

Song service was accompanied by Dr. Wood on the guitar and Rebekah on the flugelhorn. Dr. Chadwick spoke on the importance of creation as described in Genesis, with Romans 1:18-23 as his keynote text.

After a lunch of veggie chicken, hash-brown casserole, and elephant's amazing strawberry-rhubarb crisp, the camp scattered to nap or take a hike. Later in the afternoon, the group was bundled into the vans (and the back of the truck) for the day's field trips: The lady (a hoodoo with a hat and grass growing on it), a washout with bone fragments to give the campers a feel for what they look like, a stop at a drop off that shows the sandstone layers that were disrupted by an earthquake, a short hike up a couple hills with a beautiful view and some fossil fragments, and finally, a look at the Cheyenne River at which an optionally ride across in a trolley powered by the brute armpower of willing campers.

The group then hurried home for a hot dog dinner, before Dr. Chadwick spoke on everyday miracles and his testimony. Campers dispersed to their tents with the last rays of the sun.

Sunday, 2 June
Crazy Horse Volksmarch!
A few kind-hearted early-birds scrambled to create a fabulous breakfast of pancakes, which was almost missed by many a sleepy camper (how immunity to the morning horn and bell has developed so quickly, we'll never know). Eventually, however, a crew of well-stuffed campers with sack lunches gathered for worship, which Dr. McHenry gave on ants and their habits, following the point of the Proverbial wisdom—"Go to the ant, thou sluggard!" It was perhaps an apt message for a group whose purpose is burrowing bones out of the ground. (Sierra and Rebekah had found small fossil fragments in the waste of an ant pile on a previous hike).

Next, the campers piled into the vans for the traditional first-Sunday field trip: Crazy Horse and Mount Rushmore. The Crazy Horse hikers were led by two-time Iron Man and eleven-time half Iron Man Joe Garza, who left several accomplished backpackers in his dust. Mount Rushmore was a fun photo stop for all, and those not entirely exhausted by the Crazy Horse hike zipped through the Presidential Loop in their 25-minute time limit. After their quick completion of the first two stops, the group was looking forward to their Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, which they discovered to be closed on Sunday for the first time in many an exploratory year. A stop at Pizza Barn revealed a similar disappointment, but Pizza Hut worked just as well when it came to filling famished bellies. Meanwhile, the home crew took care of final organization. Tents were set up, oil was changed, and the lecture room was redecorated with extra dinosaur species.

Shirleane's van stopped for groceries on the way home, which allowed its campers to miss the substantial shower line. Sunset brought the food truck from Rapid City, along with new diggers—the Robison family. As the new groceries vanished into the very-empty fridges, the campers scattered to their tents. The first full dig-day awaits!

Monday, 3 June
New Moon

Bone-happy campers gathered for a breakfast of tater tot casserole before Dr. Snyder's worship on working well with others. Then the rookies crowded the lecture room for the intro video on dinosaur-digging, while the vets picked up their updated boxes and prepared for a splendid first day!

North Quarry reported that they were up to their elbows, but that everyone digging found a vertebra or a vertebral process. Gar Quarry found they had to relocate their toilet (they fixed the wood with a Swiss Army knife, courtesy of Rebekah's young and strong arms), but had more rewarding finds in a Pachycephalosaurus tooth and other odds and ends. New Field Quarry had a solo significant find—the bottom of the bone bed. Out in the wilds of a new quarry, Atullah Quarry did some exploratory digging, finding an interesting vertebra, along with Woo's discovery of a chain of chevrons which is hoped to yield the next semi-articulated hadrosaur. Even farther afield, Ivarrest Quarry suffered through their lack of sunshade to discover such interesting bones as a Thescelosaurus claw and a fine crocodile tooth, along with a small rib and an abundance of turtle. A midday GPS system crash put all the quarries in a pickle, however—it's hoped they'll be fixed by tomorrow.

Diggers returned around 5:30 to a highly anticipated shower and North Quarry's cooking crew's terrific pasta. Dig dinner chatter almost surpasses that of fishermen, though perhaps the bones deserve to be bragged over. The 7:00 lecture was an introduction to the dinosaurs, and crowded benches showed that, like always, not only the students want to learn. Outside, last year's graduates enjoyed a round of throwing knife tic-tac-toe in keeping with the tradition begun last year. Most were abed by 9:30, though the sun still shone bright.

Tuesday, 4 June
This morning's breakfast was heralded by the glad scents of Attulah's first cooking day: tofu, egg, and tortilla scramble with tater tots. Worship, which Margaret recited from Revelation, had the most exciting call yet: Daniel on the "dying heifer" horn, Rebekah on the flugelhorn, and Mikey giving his all to the triangle bell.

Out afield, North continued their vertebra streak, as well as several raptor teeth. Gar found a micro quarry and a rib. Neufeld had better luck with today, finding crocodile, fish, and other fun, small finds. Attulah continued their chevron streak, which were accompanied by a few new caudal vertebrae. Daniel also found one of the largest perfectly-round concretions in three years of hunting! Over in Ivarrest, a hadrosaur dentary, a Nano and a T. rex tooth, and assorted interesting small bones were found—along with their second, third, and fourth snake in three days. After dropping by to provide the baked Ivarrestians with shelter, Dr. Wood and Dr. Chadwick explored a new, rich site on the east side of the Ranch.

Attulah whipped up the long-awaited beans, rice, and tamale pie for dinner. Dr. Chadwick's lecture(s) were on plate tectonics (which cued looks of terror in the younger students) and the Dinosaur Wars. Camp emptied out to the tents relatively early, except for the wonderful crew that worked until midnight (and awoke early to finish) fixing the men's toilets.

Wednesday, 5 June
A horde of delicious scones disappeared into this morning's starving campers (the scent drew them in far before the bell!) before the morning's worship by McKenzie, on trusting God through the dark times. (Her tales of Southern's horizontal caving class drew more groans of jealousy than fear from Southwestern students, however!)

Quarries are now chugging along at their usual frequencies: Gar is discovering all sorts of interesting, often unidentified items; Ivarrest is hauling out pounds of "toitle"; North is back on the massively beautiful (with the strange bonus of a 3/4 inch complete chevron and two bird bones); New Field is piling up dirt in search of the bottom of the bonebed; and Attulah is cracking rock (and almost Daniel, who vanished over the edge of the hill with an overladen wheelbarrow).

Dinner was a smashing medley of broccoli, brown rice, mushroom soup, and Shirleane's famous walnut veggieburgers, and the night's lectures were on plate tectonics and dinosaur anatomy.

Rain started falling just before nine, and by ten the sky was a magnificent shade of flaming orange with a double rainbow. The first taste of Wyoming weather was spectacularly lovely.

Thursday, 6 June
Oh, that smell of French toast! It is unfortunate that few were awake to truly appreciate it, after staying up to absurd hours photographing the previous night's sky. Once the crew had struggled together; however, Dr. McHenry gave worship on the miracle of Joseph's (a young camper) phone, which had been hopelessly lost on a hike to the Triplets—its case was a lovely prairie green. It ended up very neatly sitting atop a contrasting cow patty, which helped the third search party (two days later) discover it.

By now, all the quarries are pretty settled; finds no longer sound as spectacular. However, great excitement is building in the quarries that have hit the bottom of the bone bed, New Field and North, as they begin pulling out their magnificent femurs. To some, only the biggest bones are exciting!

Dinner was marvelous: massive cilantro-lime rice and black bean burritos. Even the Atullahans, who split more rocks all day, were able to fill up. The evening's lecture was the origin of life, and a clear sky left the rest of the evening uneventful (save for another throwing knife gone missing!)

Friday, 7 June
Today's half-day was still marked by exciting finds—a crystalized T. rex humerus was found in New Field, where Atullah was working as well (they needed a skilled shoveling crew!)

In the afternoon, vans left for the laundromat, before stopping for shopping in the pounding rain and going to Pizza Barn for dinner. The Westons and Joe Garza left this afternoon, and the Huckleberries joined us. Many stayed up past Dr. Snyder's worship talk to converse well into night.

At the end of the first week of excavation, we have reached a total of 562 bones recovered.

Saturday, 8 June
A breakfast of grits proceeded this morning's church service, led by Brandon Robison, titled "Shallow Water is Always Clear." Many who had stayed up late the previous night then took advantage of naptime for lunch, while another crew went up to the well for lambsquarters, which they found to be a quarter inch high! Nevertheless, Sierra and Summer Rose decided to go on a fool's errand to find a new, greener patch. Joined by Daniel and Mikey, they ended up finding two bags full of grown lambsquarters around various cattle waterers! This supplemented a delicious lunch of lasagna. Afterwards, the group went to the Microsite, where a few exciting teeth were found before blasting winds and frigid sprinkling rain forced them back to camp. The evening's worship was by Dr. Chadwick on Psalm 19.
Sunday, 9 June
Atullahans were back on breakfast duty this morning; we had Dawnella's famous coconut waffles! Dr. Sheel gave his testimony for worship, titled "Lest We Forget." Afterwards, Dr. Wood announced various changes to the quarry crews—it's time for some to see new scenery! Most had large bones to finish in their old quarries, however, and postponed their transfer. Huckleberries left this afternoon, after the insurance team finally found their way into Camp Cretaceous to unlock Lillian's vehicle.

Fieldwork is going well! Ivarrest and Gar are still in a quantity battle: Ivarrest set a 17-bone-a-piece quota to finish off their hundred-card pack (only Dr. Snyder surpassed it, with 21 bones!) Gar found a relatively miniscule number, though, and still lost. In North, Mara found an ischium and Brandon found an ilium. New Field is continuing their unusual bone streak, and the American members are now learning Spanish and Korean. Atullah finally made it to the bone bed, where they found a rib fragment and a skull fragment in a day of hard labor—their dreams of the next hadrosaur tail have finally crumbled.

Dinner was a magnificent collaboration between North and Atullah: falafels, hummus, salads, and pita bread. The evening's lecture was a helpful introduction to fossil classes and morphology, along with the Precambrian.

Monday, 10 June
Ivarrest's mountains of breakfast burritos were a hit at breakfast this morning, and many foiled them for lunch. Worship was by New Field, with Rusty reading a poem on God's handiwork in nature.

In the quarries, North is continuing with the general hadrosaur finds. New Field Quarry's greatest incident was Marcella (hopefully accidentally) supergluing Oto's hand to a bone. Gar is still on their usual, scaly finds. Ivarrest is starting to hit some larger interesting bones. Atullah officially perished this day, with the final shovelful of concreted nonsense shoveled on its grave. With the prospect of chopping through another six feet of rock to hit anything worthwhile, they decided to put it out of its misery. Who knows what Triceratops-then-Atullah will become now!

Dinner was baked potatoes, dinosaur pasta salad, and cabbage salad. Dr. Chadwick was in town picking up Dr. Yamamoto, so Dr. Wood did the evening's lecture on Sauropodomorphs. Later in the evening, Bang! came back out, and Oto demonstrated some Argentinian guitar (and dancing!)

Tuesday, 11 June
This morning, Gar made French Toast once again—warm food for freezing people. Dr. Yamamoto was introduced at worship, and reminded the diggers that a.) he was certainly not old and that b.) as is name is notoriously difficult to remember or pronounce, he was to be addressed as Sensei. The day continued to cool down, with scattered showers in the afternoon and freezing hail on Nameless Quarry. The cold certainly didn't help with finding bones, nor did the failed arrival of a new GPS. However, many a Wyoming weather fanatic was overjoyed to get their first taste of her capriciousness. In New Field, a Creationist virtual reality team filmed for their VR museum that already contains our massive femur on display in our museum. After a dinner of haystacks, many students lined up to experience it (getting run over by a dinosaur is a very exciting event!)

Wednesday, 12 June
New Field Quarry's breakfast this morning was heaps of muffins, well appreciated after the cold day. The Nameless quarry is finally finding its niche (though not a name), as it moves from scavenging Triceratops horns from an old Dersler quarry to opening a new quarry filled with Nodosaurus plates. The other quarries are on their usual finds, though North found a lovely set of dentaries, from both adult and juvenile Edmontosauruses. Ivarrestian dishwashers got back a full hour late for dinner after staying on to finish GPSing a boatload of bones. After dinner, a crew went to pick up the finally-arrived GPS, and Daniel spotted a pair of dung beetles (from a moving ATV!) which were suitably filmed.

Thursday, 13 June
Ivarrest was on worship this morning, which meant a duet of trumpet and flugelhorn (played by Jeff and Rebekah, respectively) for song service. Rain made a day in the quarries a bit more interesting for diggers who were not veterans of the Great Rains of '18 (or any rain in the quarry, ever.) Ivarrest has officially hit the point where they find more Nanotyrannus teeth a week than tendons (today's ratio was 2.5:1)! Nameless Quarry had a productive day, and New Field has found a weird long leg bone, which is suspected (or, more accurately, hoped against hope,) to be T. rex. North is finding more Juvenile Edmontosaurus, with a small radius this afternoon after plenty of shoveling to make room for the 90-person peak the camp is expected to hit this weekend. The new GPS made work in the quarries much easier, while Dr. Wood left for Rapid City to fly home for Father's Day and pick up Dr. Maloney (and Beata!) and Justin Woods.

Friday, 14 June
Today was another field day! While a few stayed behind to prep for the Father's Day event, most went into town for laundry as well as the Mammoth Site and the Black Hills Institute. Everyone enjoyed these two amazing paleontological sites and got home in time for dinner. Ivan Snyder and Kristen arrived in the evening, in time for a wonderful song service and Dr. Chadwick's sundown service on the importance of history with faith, using the story of Jonathan and his armorbearer (which Parker misheard as 'armorbear', causing considerable amusement. After worship, the new arrivals, with several other exploring souls, went out for a walk that lasted until midnight (it was much regretted in the morning!)

At the end of the second week of work, we had recovered a total of 1323 bones, teeth, and tendons.

Saturday, 15 June
Sabbath's breakfast was Sierra's biscuits, Shirleane's magnificent mango chia and donation of fresh grapes, and the usual grits and dinosaur egg oatmeal. The sermon was on Mark 1 and 2 and the grace of Christ, by Mr. Gray. For lunch, the group caravanned out of camp to the beautiful picnic site for a lunch of hot dogs, potato salad, and lentil salad. As the first group arrived at the picnic site, they saw a deer take off, and later discovered her fawn, where it stayed, frozen and nearly invisible, a few meters from where we were eating (he remained there throughout our hours at the picnic site, probably missing mom and definitely terrified.) We also found the prints of McKenzie and Mikey's bobcat on the cliff face where they saw him the previous week. After lunch, campers enjoyed conversation with each other, and a few practiced their assorted throwing weapons: knives, tomahawks, and ninja stars. When the group returned, Mikey pulled out a 1000-piece dinosaur puzzle, which took a dedicated several 'til midnight to complete.
Sunday, 16 June
Father's Day and the Open House for the dig site!   Full moon

This morning's worship brought us back to caving once again, with one of Brandon's testimonies. As soon as worship was over, the camp emptied into the quarries at double speed, ready to get set up for today's annual Father's Day Open House. Many beautiful and large bones were on display for this year, unlike last year's mud puddles. Mr. Sprague was back for his final edition on the event, and enjoyed a through tour of the three accessible and open quarries. A total of 110 participants arrived—a very good number for the scattered rain showers that punctuated the day. Farther afield, Rose discovered a T. rex phalanx on the surface, yet still in beautiful condition. In the evening, since the Open House delayed dinner and thus lecture, the Orígenes show was shown in place of it. The internet took a vacation this evening—it's hoped it will be back soon!

Monday, 17 June
HRS annual Board Meeting

Today's most heart-stopping moment was Wallace's announcement over the radio that the camp was out of water, which prompted a mix of groans, laughs, and tears from diggers who were here last year and experienced no showers, no dishes, and next-to-no drinking water for several days. A rain shower prompted some quarries to run back to camp early, while some luxuriated in their only chance for a shower (it wasn't heavy enough to wash off much!) Fortunately, on arrival in camp, diggers found the alarm false—as part of the repairs concurrent with the (supposed) interne-fixing, the well man had shut off the water. Everyone appreciated their real shower a bit more tonight! Today was a stellar day for the theropods in the quarries: North pulled out a massive, though crushed, T. rex tooth; Ivarrest had a T. rex rib fragment, and Daniel and Rose of Nameless brought back a T. rex tooth and a giant T. rex phalanx, respectively. Other great news reached us from the annual HRS board meeting—many prayers have been answered, and the meeting went beyond expectations!

Tuesday, 18 June
The internet flickered on for a pitiful second today—not long enough to accomplish anything, however, or get a proper weather forecast. In the evening, the hordes of campers swelling our ranks to about 90 arrived. Most belong to a group from the Pacific Northwest, who will be leaving on Sunday.

Wednesday, 19 June
Camp is still getting used to its new population—latecomers found a mile-long line for breakfast, which was as nameless as its quarry. Quality unfortunately must be sacrificed to quantity some weeks! The evening was highlighted by some magnificent cloud formations, including a spiral cloud near-tornado that reached down northwest of the quarries. No real tornadoes formed, however, and after some heavy rain and wild lighting filled the main building with the now rather expanded group, most gave up on waiting it out and scattered to their tents. The lack of radar hurts a bit, now!

Thursday, 20 June
Last night's interesting clouds turned into a ruinous hailstorm with marble-sized projectiles, which dented trailers and vehicles, shredded several tents (Dr. Wood's, Dr. Snyder's, and McKenzie's included), and soaked several more. Ivarrest was on cooking crew this morning, and Sierra's early morning foray into the Camp building for starting breakfast turned into a rescue mission when she discovered Joseph curled up like a bedraggled, soaked, and homeless kitten on a bench. Many a camper's wet sleeping mats need to be replaced by one of the few dry ones in the trailer, and those whose tents survived are making room for the refugees of last night's torrent. This morning was Brandon Robison's last night leading worship music, and as he led the final singing of 'As We Gather/We Exalt Thee', it was obvious how much this place and amazing project had meant to him (and every other camper). The internet is still out, which doesn't breed confidence for our knowledge of the next storm (we rely on the radios for weather, but looking at radar is so convenient!), especially among the heap of new campers. The day was clear, however, though the quarries were very muddy, and a few scattered showers dampened (quite literally) the evening. The fiber optic cable was set up during the day, and buried around dinner time by a rotating team of volunteers attempting to beat a storm that the sky threatened (still no radar!) to save the internet. Brandon joked that the only way to get a millennial with a shovel in their hand was to take away their internet (though there was only one person present in the millennial age range!) One interesting find today was a stingray barb in Ivarrest Quarry—the first ever found, though the occasional tooth has been found before.

Friday, 21 June
Summer solstice!

It is cold again today—the temperature has yet to hit above the 80s (Fahrenheit), and those who came expecting 90-degree weather are slightly unprepared for the 40s that have plagued muddy quarries. Everyone was looking forward to a warm shower as quarries began to be called in for a half-day that involved laundry, grocery shopping, and a heap of hot and fresh food at Pizza Barn. Vespers were given by Dr. Wood on his testimony, after many beautiful acapella songs, now that Brandon's guitar has left us. The camp feels a bit empty without its previous record-breaking number of small children, as in addition to the Robison family (Brandon, Whitney, Parker, Landon, and Charlie) the two Baccus families left today (Stephen, Whitney the Second, Hazel, Graham, and Ray, as well as Austin, Emily, and Small Otto, who shared red hair with his Argentinian namesake). Two groups braved the frigid night to sleep outside, only to be thwarted by near-100% cloud cover, which knocked out both the stars and the sunrise.

At the end of the third week, we had discovered, located, and catalogued 1995 fossils.

Saturday, 22 June
Today was the annual trip to Sylvan Lake, so after a delicious breakfast of grits and cornbread (we're awful close to all those corn states, after all!) the vans were loaded for the 1.5 hour drive to the beautiful Custer State Park. Pastor Hudson gave the service this morning, telling his story of becoming a creationist speaker. After a lunch of haystacks and hotdogs, many ascended Harney/Black Elk Peak or walked around the lake. One brave soul even took a swim! (The temperatures haven't ascended much, and Sylvan Lake isn't particularly warm.) Around 5:30 Cretaceous Time, the group caravanned back to camp for worship, which was by Dr. Wood on the pursuit of knowledge. After worship, the camp effectively crashed into their tents, a wonderful day of hiking and fellowship behind them.
Sunday, 23 June
These last week's notes from Camp Cretaceous are provided by Dr. Jared.

Kathleen left the dig with her husband. We closed Gar Quarry and removed the remaining Gar diggers to North. A storm caught us in the field around 4:00 pm and soaked everyone. Art, Keith, and Jared went to the neighboring Sterling Ranch to provide advice on how to begin quarrying on their own ranch. While out, we got hit by a hail storm. We were 10 miles from Camp and in the ATV. We returned to camp very, very cold.

Monday, 24 June
No new bones!  No new bones!  No new bones!

The leaders had a meeting about the new building with James Harris, the same architect that designed our museum. Matt McLain and Art Chadwick worked in Rose Quarry and excavated a beautiful turtle plastron and a raptor phalanx. We closed New Field. The remaining New Field diggers moved to North and Ivarrest. We also cast 3 beautiful femurs in North Quarry.

Tuesday, 25 June
Keith, Art, Stephan, and Jared met with the Bollwerks, Matt McLain, James Harris (the architect), and a representative from Morton Steel Buildings about the design of the new building. Hopefully, the design can be finalized and the contract signed before the end of summer. With luck, we might have a cement slab down before winter. The remaining quarries were closed. Interestingly, North Quarry found a femur, two ribs, a jugal, and two vertebrae at the Northwest corner of the quarry while digging up the floor. We were able to get all the bones out before another hail storm hit.

Wednesday, 26 June
We are just packing and preparing to leave tomorrow morning.

At the end of the 2019 season, we had recovered a near record 2252 bones, teeth, etc.

Thursday, 27 June
Good Bye Camp Cretaceous—see you next year!

Friday, 28 June
Home sweet home! There's no place like home and family and a bed in a real room and lots of hot water!

The van driven by Dr. Jared dropped some off at the Rapid City Airport but arrived back in Keene several hours before the other van and truck and trailer made it.

All were in Keene by 12:30.

bones recovered                season progress

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