Dinosaur Bone Bed News Uncategorized

Digital Innovation in 2000

I was looking back at field notes and photographs from the “Dinosaur Expedition 2000” online web updates. These images and written notes and labels all contain important data that was obtained during the two week long collection of new dinosaur bones at the site.

The project proved to be innovative in the level of online engagement, with daily written updates and photographs provided on the website of the Fundy Geological Museum in the evening after a full day’s work in the hot sun. The images were taken as Polaroids (R) – the fastest way to develop, scan, and publish images online at the time. Digital cameras were around but not yet quite affordable for regular field work.

This was very early days of the internet – and this was an early example of online updates during dinosaur digs. These updates are still available online through the Way Back Machine.

Click Here to see the the July 21 update:

Expedition Notes: July 21, 2000

The July 21 update is helpful – as it includes an image of the ilium that had been exposed that day. This is the earliest photograph of the specimen (FGM998GF13.46) – a right ilium that has several fault offsets cutting through the bone.

The images in the web updates were very small (8 kb) – because the early internet was very slow and images had to be kept small to avoid long page loading delays.

A copy of the first online photograph of the ilium, FGM998GF13.46 from July 21, 2000. It is small because the file size was very small to avoid long page loading times.

Years, later – back in the Preparation Lab at the Museum, the specimen was photographed several times while being prepared, and the sandstone was carefully removed away from the fossil bone. In these later years the digital images increased in size and quality as camera technology increased.

The medial view of a right ilium, FGM998GF13.46 – as the plaster jacket was opened and preparation was beginning.

Finally, after the bone had been fully prepared – it was then illustrated in a figure with the posterior portion of the ilium blade ‘reattached’, and published in a dissertation in 2007.

The online publishing of the updates from the dinosaur field work was innovative for the early days of the internet. Even twenty years later, these online updates continue to provide information to compliment the field notes, maps and photographs from the dig.

News Publication Updates

Updating the Quarry Map

It was in September 1997 that I first traveled to Nova Scotia to begin my study of dinosaur skeletons at Wasson Bluff. I then spent the next ten years collecting new specimens, and completed my PhD dissertation describing what is now recognized as a bone bed of sauropodomorph (long necked) dinosaurs. Now, twenty-five years later, I am returning to the work to produce new publications that describe these important specimens.

My initial attention is focused on a specimen within the bone bed that is likely to be a holotype. The specimen (GF13-11) includes a partially disarticulated skull, articulated cervical, dorsal, sacral and caudal vertebrae series, pectoral girdle (scapulae, coracoids, clavical, sternal plate), humerus, pelvis and right rear leg.

The 200 million year old dinosaur skeletons are deformed by many faults. The faults cutting the skeletal elements are sometimes be complex and obliterate important details. However, the faults are important part of the context of the bone bed – located in a depositional setting located along a palaeoscarp formed by the Cobequid Chedabucto fault system of the Fundy Basin.

The dinosaur specimens were collected over multiple years (see Field Work) and it is only after the large blocks were prepared that we could develop a clear picture of how the multiple skeletons are laid-out.

One of the initial tasks for the new publications is to create an updated quarry map that summarizes ten years of field work and locates the potential holotype specimen within the bone bed deposit.

Screen shot of ongoing work to update the quarry map – using Adobe Illustrator to position blocks and outline skeletal features. The blue elements are portions of the potential holotype specimen.

The updated quarry map is being produced using Adobe Illustrator, importing field maps (1998, 2000, 2004) and photographs of prepared blocks. Each of the unique skeletons will have a different colour, and the final figure will summarize the layout and faulting of the skeletons.

Tips for Students/Learners:

These types of visual skills are useful in natural sciences like palaeontology, providing powerful ways to document and communicate complex spatial information. Students who are interested in palaeontology will find it useful to learn how to use new digital drawing tools.

3D Dinosaur Bone Bed

As the quarry map details become updated the information is also being incorporated into the development of a 3D reconstruction of how the skeletons were oriented when buried. The quarry map provides the location of the elements and digital skeletons are posed to fit the map.

Demonstration of 3D reconstruction of the dinosaur bone bed.

Stay tuned for more updates as the work on the quarry map continues to offer new insights.

Field Work

Fundy Fossil Research in 2017

Summary of Previous Field Work

Last year the Fundy dinosaur field work focused on collecting all specimens on the surface of a  section of cliff at Wasson Bluff. The research team focused on collecting small elements exposed on the surface of the sandstone. After ten days of field work the Museum research team had collected over eighty specimens, including several Tritheledont teeth, and the premaxilla (snout) of a theropod dinosaur.

2017 Fossil Research Site – fog at high tide on the Bay of Fundy.

New Field Work Begins

In July 2017, the Museum Research Team established the field site and collected specimens on the surface of the sandstone. Attention is being focused on Zone 3 and 4 of the field site to look for important dinosaur fossils. Several Tritheledont teeth have been discovered and collected.

Collecting of small fossils from the red sandstone. A Protosuchus scute on the surface of cliff and other fossils were found while sifting the sediment. Lunch on the beach was delicious and there was a good weather for the boat trips.

While documenting the site and collecting the fossils, a list of specimens is made in the field book. The location of the specimens in the stratigraphic layers is identified, as well as the length and width.

All specimens collected are added to the specimen log in the Field Notes.

Watch a Facebook Live Video from the start of field work in 2017.

More Field Work

The Museum Research Team is continuing to study these quickly eroding sandstone layers. The Bay of Fundy tides wash against the cliffs and cause rapid erosion of the sandstone. If not collected, the fossils will be destroyed by erosion from rain, wind, ice and waves.

Thank you to all museum volunteers and field crew participants for help during the first week of field work at the Research Site.

More field work is being conducted in August. Stay tuned for more updates or stay connected with the Fundy Geological Museum Facebook Page.