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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.

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Citizen Science Dinosaur Bone Bed News

Fundy Dinosaur Field Notes 1511

Hurricane Patricia Storm Surge

On Thursday October 29th the remnants of Hurricane Patricia rolled through the Maritimes. The storm coincided with a particularly high tide (14.1 meters) that was forecast to occur in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia. The storm surge resulting from the post-hurricane storm caused damage along the Parrsboro Shore of the Bay of Fundy. Spencer’s Island saw large gravel movement and coastal flooding. Waves in the Minas Basin (Bay of Fundy) were also large and pounded against the cliffs at Two Islands. This storm battered the sandstone cliffs at Wasson Bluff, where the dinosaur research site is located.

The Museum received information from D. Nardini, a private mineral collector who had visited the shore after the storm. The cliffs were washed clean and there appeared to be some recent erosion from the storm surge. Dr. Tim Fedak, a palaeontologist and the curator at the Fundy Geological Museum went to examine the cliffs after the storm surge.

NOTE: The site at Wasson Bluff is protected by Special Places Protection Act. No one is to carry out any work around the cliffs, with all fossil collection prohibited, except with an approved Nova Scotia Heritage Research Permit.

Halloween Dinosaur Discovery

Fedak visited the research site in the morning of Halloween Day 2015.  The initial task at the Research Site there was to capture several high-resolution photographs of the cliff to be used to create 3D scans of the cliff surface. More on this in the future.

Tim Fedak at the Dinosaur Research Site

After completing the photographs for 3D scanning, Fedak examined the site of the “Princeton Quarry” where a mass accumulation of dinosaur skeletons has been recovered during previous research. The sandstone cliff at the research site was washed clean of all debris – and new dinosaur bone was visible on the surface of the cliff. A new discovery!

The sandstone cliff at the research site was washed clean of all debris – and new dinosaur bone was visible on the surface of the cliff. A new discovery!

The weather forecast was calling for rain, so to prevent further erosion of the specimen a channel was cut in the sandstone. The channel around the specimen would direct rain flowing down the cliff around the specimen.

Over the next several days the edges of the Fundy dinosaur bones were carefully exposed. During one of these trips, a high school student (Timo Sanders) and his father (Frans) assisted with some of the early excavation work. An excellent opportunity for Timo to learn first hand how palaeontologists work to collect new fossil specimens.

A highschool student (Timo Sanders) and his father observed and assisted with fossil collecting for one afternoon..

After several trips to the research site, the channel around the specimen was carefully expanded to allow a small block to be removed. Watch a video showing some of the work done to create the channel around the dinosaur bones.

 

The fossil bones and sandstone block were then covered with a plaster and burlap field jacket (like a cast for a broken arm), which protected the bone and sandstone block. A large and wide chisel was used to separate the block of sandstone containing the 200 million year old dinosaur bones.

The block was then removed and taken to the Fundy Geological Museum. The new dinosaur bones will be  studied in the Fossil Research Lab. Visitors to the Museum will be able look into the Fossil Research Lab and see the block being worked on by museum staff and volunteers.  Visit the Fundy Geological Museum next spring/summer to see the latest updates on this new discovery.

 

 

 

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Dinosaur Bone Bed Updates

Jurassic Dinosaur GF69

Two Hundred Million Years Ago

At the dawn of the Jurassic Period – a small group of dinosaurs was rapidly buried by a sand dune that collapsed on edge of a seasonal river channel. These 200 million year old Jurassic dinosaur skeletons are found today on the northern shore of the Bay of Fundy, near Parrsboro, Nova Scotia.  These are the oldest dinosaur bones in Canada.

The first articulated skeleton found in Nova Scotia is a small ‘prosauropod’ dinosaur, specimen FGM994G69.

In the summer of 1992, during the field trip during a conference of professional geologists (GAC), Bob Grantham, then Curator of Geology of the Nova Scotia Museum, discovered fragments of the dinosaur skeleton low in the sandstone cliff.  Over the next two years, the Curator at the Fundy Geological Museum (K. Adams) worked with George Hrynewich (citizen scientist) to collect the important specimen.  Subsequent study of GF69 has supported by a Nova Scotia Museum Research Grant (1997) and research grants from the Canadian Geographic Society (1998) and the Jurassic Foundation.

Study Context

Dinosaur skeleton GF69 is special because the bones remain articulated together and the dinosaur is nearly complete. The skeleton is missing the skull and left front leg but is otherwise preserved.

Like all dinosaurs from this research site, the bones of the skeleton have been sliced and shifted due to ancient earthquakes that occurred as the supercontinent Pangea was breaking apart. These geological “faults” shifted the bones as the earth trembled 200 million years ago. However, one of the unique features of GF69 are the dislocated toes preserved in the skeleton. The toes were bent backward and crushed under the weight of the dinosaur’s body. These dislocated toes of the dinosaur have been preserved in the sandstone for 200 million years.

Dislocated toes of Jurassic Dinosaur foot.

Recent Analysis

Using the digital Plateosaurus 3D model (Credit: Heinrich Mallison), an analysis began in 2014, to examine the rotational orientation of the right rear leg of the dinosaur to result in a burial pose as preserved in specimen GF69.

The video shows how the right rear foot becomes oriented under the weight of the body through a series of rotations of the femur, tibia, ankle, and phalanx bones of the toes. The femur bends upward and the tibia flexes as the toes become bent backward and dislocated due to the weight of the body. – TJ Fedak, 2015.

Resources

Mallison, H. 2010. The digital Plateosaurus II: An assessment of the range of motion of the limbs and vertebral column and of previous reconstructions using a digital skeletal mount.

Upcoming

Using data provided by the 3D model further research will show how the skeleton was then distorted due to geological faults that affect the entire shore line of the Bay of Fundy.

 Questions/Comments

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