Saturday, November 28, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftovers

You're probably pretty busy this weekend. How about something light, like some photos? These all come from a few site visits over October and November, taking advantage of the very pleasant autumn weather conditions in the Twin Cities metro.

This and the next photo come from the U.S. Route 10 roadcuts, in the Shakopee Formation (Prairie du Chien Group). All of the little stone rainbows are small domed stromatolites. At very close range, you can distinguish between layers that are "crystalline", so to speak, representing minerals deposited by the microbes, and layers of sand (a grain or two thick). There is a band populated by these small stromatolites about as thick as the area photographed here that extends for at least a few tens of meters. (I do not recommend casual visits along this busy road; the couple of times I've stopped have been Sunday mornings.)

Saturday, November 21, 2015

The "Kweichow Sauropod"

"Somebody's got to tell the tale/I guess it must be up to me" — B. Dylan

Among all the other oddities we encountered in the Glut (1982) series in the summer, there was one purported sauropod of particular obscurity, from "Kweichow" (Guizhou). I figured it was the specimen described in Young [Yang] (1948), but was somewhat discomfited to find that it had made itself scarce in the years since 1948. There weren't even any dinosaurs listed in "The Dinosauria" from Guizhou. Had it been re-evaluated as non-dinosaurian, or actually come from a different province? To my surprise, the journal was listed as "in storage" in the University of Minnesota library system, so I fired off an interlibrary loan request and in a few days was the proud owner of a shiny new pdf. Acting on the principle that every dinosaur deserves its day, I present the "Kweichow sauropod".

Sunday, November 8, 2015

How To Work Like A Real Paleontological Researcher!

My day job as a paleontological researcher for the National Park Service often involves writing paleontological resource inventory reports for inventory and monitoring networks. Each report consists of chapters on the paleontology of each park in a given network. For example, I am currently working on the Mojave Desert I&M Network. This network includes Death Valley National Park, Great Basin National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Manzanar National Historic Site, Mojave National Preserve, and Parashant National Monument; we'll also throw in Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, because it's geographically within the network, and if it had existed at the time the networks were created, it would certainly have have been included. In the past week, I just finished writing a draft for Mojave National Preserve. When I work on these reports, in essence I have to become passably conversant with the geology and paleontology of an area I probably know little to nothing about within a few weeks. Having done this kind of work since 2008, I have worked up a system that so far has worked pretty well for me.