Monday, October 10, 2011

We Dig it

Back in 2000 they were widening a road down by Daniel Boone High School in Gray, Tennessee.  The road crew hit some wet clay that wasn’t expected and called the State Engineers to look at it.  In the meantime, they noticed lots and lots of bones –- one looked like an Alligator.  It was. It was an Alligator that lived here 4.5 million years ago along with Giant Sloths, Shovel Tusked Elephants, Short Faced Bears, more Tapirs that anyone had found 2011_1010JONESBOROUGH_more0042anywhere, a nearly complete Red Panda hitherto known only from a tooth and small skull part…This was easily the richest Miocene site in the Eastern US and they have only dug two feet of the 110 foot deposit.

It was a short drive through rural scenery just starting to color up for fall.  We studied the exhibits showing the incredibly tiny bones and pieces of bones that are identified and cataloged here.  There were views into the working labs and, after lunch, a tour of the on-going dig site and chats with the paleontologists scraping away.  We screened a little soil, watched a couple researchers sorting tiny snake vertebrae and saw the same bone from the Elephant.

“There is a camel in there somewhere. We have his leg bone.” 

Jeff showing where this sample will fit on  a Tapir’s back.


Patty digging in the Museum exhibit,,,


,,,,,and helping a little paleontologist with her screen...


…then watching the real thing. There are several creatures exposed in this pit and it is a race to find a good place to stop for the winter.

Look Emilyn.  Meme can wrestle a gator too.

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