Thursday, April 23, 2009

Day 1: Don't put it in your pocket!

Kanab, Utah (Jake)
The Grand staircase National Monument Offices/Lab

We were in the waiting room at 9:00 a.m. waiting for the Paleontologist Dr. Alan Titus. I was under the impression it would be this old, tired man with a very dry if not in drought sense of humor. Suddenly we heard someone running down the hall and a young (relatively) man in DNR clothes came running past, looked at us as he passed the hall we were in and skidded to a stop, introduced himself as Alan Titus, and said he would be right back, and ran on.

Sitting down for the presentation/lecture before going out into the field we learned a lot of things. First was the "Paleo-resource Protection Act" Which is no picking up vertebrate fossils. (No more sharks teeth!) It is legal to pick up petrified wood and invertebrate fossils such as snails and clams and things, as long as you are not on the actual Monument itself, or in a National Park.
Alosaurus is the State Fossil. And the Mesozoic Era of time is the greatest fossil record we have. They have a lot of fossils from the Morrison formation and have been more excited about the Cedar Mountain Formation which is the new "hot spot" for dino fossils.
We learned some of the geology of the Kaparowits Basin where we would be digging with Alan. The area would have been tropical to sub-tropical so there are a lot of plants like ferns and palms trees, as well as turtles, crocodiles, fish, and more. The next day we actually found some fish vertebrae and also some turtle shell pieces.

After the presentation we headed out towards Big Water where we stopped at the Dino Museum and looked at the fossils and books and pictures of trucks that got hit by flash floods in a wash. (we later followed Alan right up a wash in the trucks to get to the dig site, I thought that was ironic.)
After we got to the campsite and set up camp we all sat around and told stories and ate Renee's amazing Chile! (thanks Renee) Gathered firewood and sat around the fire. Great Day!!!

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