Excavation of British Columbia's First Complete Dinosaur (III)


The third season of the excavation (from now known as the 'Hadrosaur Excavation') began with the recovery of a large jacket with a section of articulated tail vertebrae from the previous year. The specimen was far too large to be carried out by hand. Thanks to the support of the North and South Peace Economic Development Commissions the PRPRC was able to acquire a very rugged ATV with amphibious capabilities which was used to recover the 900kg+ tail section in mid-June.

PRPRC technicians secure the tail jacket in the ATV for a trip back to the museum.

 

The tail section being hoisted out of the ATV at the museum.

 

The pit was expanded a bit more in anticipation of following the main body of the dinosaur into the hill. Since the tail and hips were found close to the edge of the hillside, it was reasonable to expect the front end of the hadrosaur to be further into the hill. This was good news in a way, since the bones close to the edge of the hill had suffered from exposure and faulting due to slumping. The palaeontologists had a reasonable expectation that the quality of the bones would improve as they worked their way into the hill. The bad news is that hadrosaur skeletons are notorious for appearing complete, only for the palaeontologists to discover at the end that the head is missing.

 

PRPRC technician Tammy Pigeon is carefully using an airscribe to follow a newly discovered bone at the site.

 

More good news. While working forward of the ilium (one of the bones of the hip) found last year, palaeontologists discover the distal part of the forward-facing pubis (another bone of the hip).

 

The exposed hip bones are mapped by PRRPC palaeontologist Lisa Buckley and staff and volunteer Daniel Helm, with Tumbler Ridge Mayor Larry White excavating in the background.

 

A very small caudal (tail) bone from the dig site.

 

A hadrosaur finger bone pedastaled at the dig site.

 

One of several fossil stump impressions found within the dig site. The hadrosaur was actually wedged between two or three trees.

 

A view of the pit in early August. The hips and tail section are covered with plaster and burlap jackets to the right of the image. The spinal column of the hadrosaur was followed forward from the hips to about the region of the shoulders where it suddenly ended. Several small sections of thoracic vertebrae (from the chest region) and cervical vertebrae (from the neck) were found forward of the articulated specimen (the four small plaster jackets in the bottom left of the photo). The hadrosaur was not completely articulated as the palaeontologists were hoping, nor was the skull discovered, however, more bones were found scattered around the articulated section and several hadrosaur teeth with roots were found in the area so it was hoped that the specimen would be more or less complete.

 

Several more shed teeth from juvenile tyrannosaurs were found, bringing the total past 40. Normally at a dig like this only one to three such teeth might be found. Some of the teeth were found laying directly on the articulated hadrosaur vertebral column.

 

The left ulna (one of the paired bones of the lower forelimbs) was discovered next to the top of the hips of the articulated specimen. It was only one metre away from where the left radius (the other bone of the left forelimb) was discovered the year before.

 

The ulna in position along the back of the articulated specimen. Note the series of neural spines that can be followed from the left side of this image to the right side, just above the ulna.

 

The protective cap of plaster and burlap over the specimen prior to covering it up for the season.

 

The excavation as the palaeontologist surmised at the end of this field season. The location of the skull and the leg bones is conjectural.