2008 FIELD NOTES

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December 31, 2008, Wednesday 
I hope everyone is ready for a Happy New Years. I am pleased with how our year ended. We haven't been to the field in over a month. So, this week we headed to the field for the last time in 2008. We were going to a locality that neither of us had ever visited. The ranchers were very nice and accommodating. We were planning to spend Tuesday looking for the skull site to get a GPS reading and scout around a bit, today we were going to visit another locality some 20 miles away.
     We were trying to pinpoint where a phytosaur skull had been collected in the early 1980s. The rancher led us to the area and we all searched for a while. Gretchen found several broken aetosaur paramedian osteoderms and a variety of broken phytosaur material.  We found mostly aetosaur and phytosaur fragmentary material. Gretchen did find four or five very closely associated vertebrae. The rancher was looking for the bivalve bed we were looking for and found the first Stereospondyli (Metoposaur) fragments (jaw fragment and skull fragment). He found a few Unio clams but it wasn't the bed we were looking for. The rancher and I hiked back out to the vehicles and he left. 
      When I returned to where I saw Gretchen digging, she showed me a wide variety of sites and material she had found while we were gone. She had found the clam bed we were looking for; two badly weathered, fragmentary phytosaur skulls; a number of small phytosaur vertebrae; a variety of limb bone fragments, and the ramus of a phytosaur jaw. The jaw was the most promising and we began excavating on it. It turned out to be almost complete (anterior end missing) and almost four feet long. I kept working on it as Gretchen collected the other material she had found and kept looking for the skull site.
     While the Butvar was drying on the phytosaur jaw, I continued looking for the skull site and prospecting. I found some very large phytosaur osteoderms, an ilium and pubis, and a huge (475 mm) phytosaur humerus. Gretchen found fused Poposaurid sacral vertebrae. We didn't have time to recover everything so we made plans to return to the locality today.
     We returned, recovered isolated material, jacketed the jaw, and with the help of the rancher's grandson, Tom, we hauled the jaw out. We never made it to the other locality but felt we had a very successful trip. So, our year has ended very nicely and we wish that your (and our) next trip around the sun will be the best yet! 
Phytosaur jaw as Gretchen found it.
Phytosaur jaw as Gretchen found it.

 
 
 
 
Clams about 15 cm long.
Clams about 15 cm long

 
 
 
 
Small sacral vertebra.
Small sacral vertebra.

 
 
 
 
Gretchen Gurtler with the  phytosaur jaw she discovered.
Gretchen Gurtler with the phytosaur jaw she discovered.

November 23, 2008, Sunday 
It was a very cool start to a nice day in the field. Gretchen and I made a leisurely start on the morning to allow time for the temperature to warm up a bit. There was a brisk breeze blowing when we arrived at my research locality. We "took refuge" from the wind by going to Site I first. At Site I we found a Trilophosaurus proximal humerus, various small vertebrae (see right), some fragmentary metoposaur skull material, and a variety of other small elements. 
     We went to Site XIX where I found two Trilophosaurus jaw fragments, a rauisuchid tooth, and a few other elements. Gretchen found an exploded metoposaur interclavicle and a very interesting limb bone that we will have to prep to identify. From there, we worked our way to Site VI where I found an aetosaur osteoderm. This may be the most diagnostic aetosaur osteoderm from the locality collected so far. 
    The next few sites did not produce much until we reached Site XV where Gretchen found a nice cervical vertebra belonging to another new species of Momchil Atanassov's new taxon. At Site V, I collected an ilium (probably Trilophosaurus but I need to get a bit more matrix off), a partial articulated manus/digit, and a variety of other elements. 
      We spread out and checked a number of other sites. I found a partial dicynodont scapula and a couple of other elements that I need to prepare and remove enough matrix for  definite identification. Then at the last site we went to, Site XL, Gretchen found a partial fish (see bottom right). We found a couple of other very fragmentary fish specimens, and layer with lots of concentrated fish scales.
Gretchen Gurtler with several small Triassic vertebrae from the Dockum Group.
A partial  dicynodont humerus from the Dockum Group.2
Part of a partial fish found by Gretchen Gurtler in the Triassic Dockum Group.

November 16, 2008, Sunday 
It was a beautiful day to spend in the field; however, I spent it in the dungeon and on the computer. No fun. I did prepare some fossils including an aetosaur lateral osteoderm I found November 2 (see right) and then the on going "jig-saw puzzle" work piecing various fossil elements together: a dinosauromorph femur, several aetosaur osteoderms, a phytosaur skull, a tibia, a juvenile phytosaur dentary, etc., etc. I also finished making a storage jacket for Gretchen's "Metoposaurusbakeri skull (see right) using AC filter and plaster. 
     Our Llano Estacado mosasaur paper was published last week. Other than that, the past two weeks have been pretty much the usual activities.  Tomorrow it will be back to photographing bats! 
Aetosaur lateral osteoderm

Storage jacket for a metoposaur skull made with AC filter and plaster.


November 2, 2008, Sunday
     I was a beautiful weekend. This morning we got a "late" start due to the change to daylight savings time. Gretchen and I were accompanied by Briland and Beau today. Our first project was to recover the phytosaur skull we jacketed on October 19. We had to add a bit more plaster and ac filter before we tried to flip the specimen. This week I brought my own plaster. While the plaster was drying, we did some prospecting. Bo found some interesting aetosaur osteoderms and a Trilophosaurus vertebra. Briland found a phytosaur femur and  a couple of osteoderms. I found a Rauisuchid tooth and  a couple of aetosaur osteoderms, and then there was Gretchen. Gretchen found a variety of aetosaur paramedian and lateral osteoderms, a Rauisuchid osteoderm, teeth, and more. 
     Just as the rancher arrived to check on our progress,  Gretchen found a Pseudopalatus squamosal. Then, while showing the rancher around she found a nice aetosaur lateral osteoderm with a 100mm+ spine. Again, we have prep work to do before identification. We found several taxa that had not been reported from that locality before, recovered the skull, and to my knowledge, sustained no physical damage. The sunset was nice on the way home with colors like lemon, salmon, and according to Gretchen ............ periwinkle.
Bill Mueller jacketing a phytosaur skull with plaster laden AC filter.
 
 

The phytosaur jacket.


October 19, 2008, Sunday 
It was a beautiful weekend.  Gretchen and I spent Saturday in the "dungeon". I pieced together more of the skull from September 28 and also some of the aetosaur paramedian osteoderms. 
     However, Sunday we spent in the field. Early Sunday morning Gretchen, Briland, and I  headed for the field. First  we went to MOTT 3882 to see if anything was weathering out at that locality. There was nothing at the locality except Antediplodon clams.
     Then we went to MOTT 3883 where we had a phytosaur skull buried (see January 24, February 1, 2004 field notes). The first things we saw were three aoudad rams. One was a very nice ram. The skull is one of the six  phytosaur skulls we have in the field that we are trying to recover as we have time. On the way to the skull, I collected another paramedian plate from the baby aetosaur. I began cleaning the skull off while Gretchen and Briland prospected for fossils. The jacket turned out to be much larger than was expected. We ended up leaving the jacket in the field to recover next weekend or the following weekend.
Gretchen Gurtler standing over the jacketed phytosaur skull.

October 13, 2008, Monday 
It was a cool, rainy weekend that prevented us from going to the field again. I think Gretchen was suffering from withdrawal symptoms from not having gone to the field for two weeks! I spent a lot of the time working in the "dungeon" and identifying material at home. Earlier in the week, Gretchen worked on piecing more of her "Metoposaurusbakeri skull together. She also led the graduate PreventiveConservation class on a tour of the Prep Lab while I took them through the collections. 

October 5, 2008, Sunday 
It was a cool, rainy day. I spent most of it working in the "dungeon". Earlier in the week, Gretchen worked on piecing her Adamanasuchusosteoderms together and pieced together a few more elements of her "Metoposaurus" bakeri skull.
     Earlier in the week Parker et al.'s manuscript was published in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology describing a new aetosaur, Sierritasuchus, from Texas including a specimen I found. My comment on Koskinonodon perfectus was published in the Bulletin of Zoological Nomenclature
     I began piecing together the posterior portion of the phytosaur skull recovered last weekend and Gretchen and I are discussing the possibility of trying to recover two more skulls we have in the field this coming weekend. 
Gretchen Gurtler preparing a Triassic fossil specimen.

September 30, 2008, Tuesday 
   Sunday morning the sun was a red fireball as we headed for the locality to recover the phytosaur skull Marissa found last weekend and to try and recover more of the armor of the Adamanasuchus Gretchen found earlier. The front of my truck was still covered with mosquitoes from last weekend. Marissa and Cristina continued trenching around the skull. Gretchen then found a metoposaur mandible nearby. Gretchen and I then worked our way back around to Site 10 to see if we could recover more material. Gretchen uncovered a couple of plates almost immediately while I was scouring the area for any float. She ended up with, I believe, four more osteoderms. 
     We headed back to check on the progress at the skull and have lunch. As we left Site 10, Gretchen found part of a phytosaur jaw and I found a Desmatosuchus paramedian plate. We worked our way back to the truck gathering various isolated material. After lunch Gretchen circled to the east while I helped finish trenching and jacket the skull. While it was drying, Marissa and Cristina circled to the east while I headed north. I circled by the "pond" and found a section of a dicynodont maxilla. I headed west and dug up some more aetosaur material. When I reached Site 10, Gretchen had reached a stopping point on the 
Adamanasuchus material. She had recovered more paramedians. She collected the portion of the phytosaur jaw and I collected the Desmatosuchus paramedian osteoderm. I then found an "exploded" metoposaur skull.
     I headed back to help break the jacket loose and plaster the other side. Gretchen headed to the western portion of the locality. To both of our surprise, she found almost nothing before she returned to where we were. Gretchen went back to the northeast while we got the jacket ready to take out. Gretchen collected a beautiful but fragmented Tecovasuchusparamedian plate. She also collected a skull fragment and a really bizaar osteoderm unlike anything I have seen. 
     We then used some large rope and Gretchen and I pulled the jacketed skull up the bluff while Marissa guided it from below. The sun was a glowing red ball as we headed back to Lubbock. 
Gretchen Gurtler excavating Adamanasuchus paramedian osteoderms.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Bill and Marissa jacketing the Leptosuchus skull.
 


September 20, 2008, Saturday 
Saturday (Sept. 13) I did solve one problem by piecing together enough of a metoposaur skull to identify it as a Koskinonodon perfectus from the base of the Tecovas Formation in Garza County. Gretchen pretty well has her "Metoposaurusbakeri assembled about as well as is possible. As I said earlier when she found it, the dorsal side is about 80-85% complete and she has done an excellent job of piecing it back together. She has even assembled part of the ventral side.
     The sunrise was beautiful as we headed out yesterday morning. It has been a beautiful week since the "Flood of '08" last Thursday. Today we went to one of our regular localities that received over 10 inches of rain last Thursday! Gretchen and I took graduate student Marissa Westerfield with us. After evading mass swarms of mosquitoes, we hiked into the badlands and began searching the usual areas. We were collecting a variety of material then Marissa found the disarticulated, eroded posterior portion of a phytosaur skull. She collected the float material and then began excavating the anterior portion of the skull. Gretchen and I continued prospecting and checking our regular sites. We were finding a lot of fragmentary aetosaur scutes and phytosaur teeth. We didn't get as much area covered because we were finding too much neat material. We found a diagnostic skull fragment for a Koskinonodon perfectus; a Trilophosaurus vertebra; a phytosaur coracoid; an unusual aetosaur paramedian osteoderm; three associated Desmatosuchus haplocerascervical paramedian plates and lateral cervical spines;Shuvosaurus vertebra; rauisuchid teeth; a number of small, tall, thin, very recurved teeth (bottom right, large one is 14 mm in height); a small paramedian Pseudosuchian paramedian plate. Gretchen and I found a number of Adamanasuchus plates. 
     I went back to check on Marissa while Gretchen was excavating paramedian plates. Marissa's phytosaur skull turned out to be huge and appears to be Leptosuchus (probably crosbiensis). At the end of the day, she covered it up for later recovery. Gretchen in the mean time had uncovered more paramedian plates. We ended up with seven associated 
Adamanasuchusparamedian plates and two lateral osteoderms. They are from the same site where Gretchen found three Adamanasuchus paramedian plates on February 10.
     Today was off to a very late start. Gretchen sorted fossils while I cooked brunch then Gretchen and I spent much of the day sorting, identifying, and preparing the specimens we collected yesterday.
Large hytosaur tooth and skull fragments.
Phytosaur tooth & skull frags.
Desmatosuchus cervical lateral spine.
Desmatosuchus cervical spine

Gretchen Gurtler excavating Adamanasuchus paramedian plates.
GretchenGürtler excavating Adamanasuchus
paramedian osteoderms

Some of the teeth we collected.
Interesting teeth 


September 7, 2008, Sunday 
It was a beautiful day as Gretchen and I headed south late in the afternoon. We went to an area Gretchen had never been to on a ranch that we frequently visit. I didn't expect us to find much Triassic material. Previously a metoposaur fragment, a phytosaur vertebra, and half of a phytosaur jaw was all that had been found on the entire ranch. Gretchen found the first fossil. It was an indeterminate vertebra fragment. I later found some bison bones (those are fairly common) and then some fragmentary phytosaur material. Not long after that I found another site that had quite a bit of fragmentary bone, including a phytosaur fibula.
     It was a great day for seeing wildlife. We saw mule deer, white-tailed deer, coyotes, various lizards, centipedes (Scolopendra heros), black-chinned hummingbirds (Archilochus alexandri), and more. Oh yes, at dusk there were plenty of mosquitoes!  Most of those I squashed beyond my ability to identify. 
A centipede, red hed and body, black tail, Scolopendra possibly

September 1, 2008, Monday 
It has been busy recently with beginning of classes. It was a beautiful, although very humid, day in the field. Gretchen and I first went to the locality where she found the "Metoposaurus" bakeri skull to see if we could find any additional elements. On our way in see saw a half dozen or so feral pigs. At the first site we passed by Gretchen and I found some tracks in a sandstone layer. Interesting. We found very little material at Gretchen's skull site. She excavated some more of the location with little success. We then went to my research area. 
     At Site XLII , I found a rauisuchid tooth. Other than that, we didn't find much. It appeared that most of the rain storms missed the locality. Today was the deadline for fossil elements and specimens to be included in my dissertation. Nothing else we collect will be included (unless it will really knock your socks off). 
Part of the farrel pigs we encountered on the way to our site.
 

Gretchen Gurtler excavating her "Metoposaurus bakeri" site.


August 27, 2008, Thursday 
Update: 
     Gretchen has been preparing her metoposaur skull and we have been able to determine that it is another large specimen of "Metoposaurusbakeri. It is about 85% complete. Based on what she found and pieced together, we believe that  with some screening of the talus below where the skull was found, we should be able to recover more, our weekend project. It is fortunate that she has two other beautifully preserved "Metoposaurus" bakeri skulls to compare it to. 
Gretchen Gurtler preparing a portion of her Metoposaurus bakeri skull from the lower Dockum Group.

August 16, 2008, Saturday 
The thunder rolled and lightening flashed as we woke this morning. The electricity was off and the overcast sky gave a foreboding forecast for the day. Gretchen and I got our gear together and headed south anyway, as the radar indicated less rain to the south. First, we were going to a locality that I had last visited in 1999.  The creek was flooded and we couldn't  drive across so I drove around to the closest point we could reach and we started hiking in. I did "drop" her on the bank after I carried her across the creek, getting somewhat wet myself. After getting across the creek we proceeded on to Locality 3912.. Gretchen found a small jaw fragment but everything else we found was scrap material.  We headed out to go to Locality 3869. Again, I "dropped" Gretchen on the creek bank after carrying her across. I didn't get quite as wet this time.  After hiking across the canyon floor, we were about to start our climb out when we found some metoposaur material. I was collecting the section of a clavicle I found when Gretchen found a jaw (top right). I photographed it and Gretchen began to collect it.  Underneath the jaw she hit more bone.  It turned out to be the left side of a Metoposaurus skull (middle right). While she  pedestalled the partial skull, I collected vertebrae, coprolites, jaw fragments (bottom right), and skull material in float.  After improvising a jacket for the skull and removing it, we hiked north and found a bit more phytosaur and metoposaur material along with a "latrine" full of coprolites.
     We headed for 3869, with Gretchen spotting a European red deer on the way. At 3869, we split up to cover more territory.  I collected a good sized ilium that I need to prepare, a Trilophosaurus femur, and a variety of other small post-cranial elements. When I rejoined Gretchen, she had just collected a good section of a Trilophosaurus jacobsi maxilla with teeth.  We worked our way back to the truck. As we drove into Lubbock, the full moon finally broke through the clouds  ending a good day that had started out with a skeptical beginning.
Gretchen Gurtler with a metoposaur jaw she discovered.
 
 

Gretchen Gurtler with a partial "Metoposaurus" skull she discovered.
 
 

Gretchen Gurtler with a partial "Metoposaurus" skull she discovered.
 
 

Metoposaur jaw fragment Bill Mueller found.


August 13, 2008, Wednesday 
The past week has been very eventful after not going to the field for almost a month. Gretchen and I went to the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum in Tucumcari, New Mexico, to meet with Axel Hungerbühler and discuss some of our and their fossils. Gretchen received a lot of input on her research on our Paleorhinus material (see photo top right of Gretchen and Axel discussing her new basal phytosaur taxon). The following day, dawn found the four of us readying for the field. It was a very interesting locality in the Redonda Formation with a very prolific "bone-bed". Axel was excavating and jacketing an aetosaur humerus for removal. While he was doing that, Gretchen found an astragalus (see middle right) and I found what appeared to be a distal Shuvosaurus tibia. Most of the material from the locality was aetosaur fossils. While Gretchen was uncovering a paramedian scute, she discovered a beautiful, complete aetosaur scapula. At the bottom right is Axel examining the scapula Gretchen discovered. I was helping excavate the paramedian plate while she excavated the scapula and I uncovered a clavicle. I also uncovered a long, very thin metatarsal?. Gretchen uncovered another one close-by. It was a good day in the field as we brought out jackets of the humerus, the scapula, part of a phytosaur skull, and a number of isolated elements.
     The following day we drove to Denver. On Monday we delivered aetosaur specimens we had on loan to the Denver Museum of Science and Nature. It was a fantastic facility. They graciously agreed to allow us access to examine their Triassic material. It was a very informative visit that allowed me to identify and confirm the identity of a number of specimens from our collection. 
   The trip back to Lubbock included viewing mule deer, elk, turkey, grouse, and a variety of other wild life (we just missed seeing a black bear). Tuesday morning we had coffee to a view of the sun coming up over Monument Lake, Colorado. Then we continued our journey back to Texas. 
Gretchen Gurtler and Axel Hungerbuhler at the Mesalands Dinosaur Museum discussing a new basal phytosaur she discovered.
 
 

Gretchen Gurtler showing me the astragalus she found.
 
 

Axel Hungerbuhler examining the aetosaur scapula Gretchen Gurtler discovered.


August 3, 2008, Sunday 
We haven't been to the field for several weeks due to conflicts and rather high temperatures.  My daughter, Meaghan and I did go down on a friend's ranch today to do a little target practice in preparation for her up-coming  Concealed Weapons Class. On her first round she shot 227 out of 250. Pretty good.  She did really well later when she was shooting my 357.  12 of 12 shots in the 9 and X rings at about 20 yards! I wouldn't want her shooting at me!
spent cartridges

July 13, 2008, Sunday 
     It has a cool but very humid day with light showers as Doug Cunningham and I went to check a few localities. Our first stop was to collect a Pseudopalatine squamosal Doug found earlier in the week. We then went to the Chindesaurus locality. Doug found an interesting small vertebrae that we need to prepare to identify, but it could be a Shuvosaurus caudal vertebra. We found an assortment of bone fragments and weathered phytosaur vertebrae. Doug collected one decent aetosaur paramedian scute. Later we went to check on where Gretchen and I collected the Postosuchus material on March 23. We found very little at the locality; however, I did find a sacral rib where I collected the Postosuchus sacral vertebrae series. We then checked one more area with little results before we headed back.
Doug Cunningham collecting an aetosaur paramedian plate (Typothorax).

June 29, 2008, Sunday 
Saturday Gretchen Gürtler and I left fairly early for my locality, not as early as we had planned, but early. There had been a couple of inches of rain since our last visit to the locality. We worked our way from site to site, searching the badlands in between for anything new. For as much erosion as was visible, we were not finding much material exposed until we reached sites I, III, IV, and V. At Site III, I collected some Trilophosaurus material. At Site IV, Gretchen collected a Trilophosaurus 5th metatarsal. At Site V, Gretchen found the first Arganodus toothplate known from this locality, and an articulated ilium and pubis. I collected a tiny astragalus there also. At Site I, Gretchen collected another astragalus and a dinosauromorph vertebra, while I collected a large, interesting vertebra. After finishing at Site I, we returned to Lubbock and spent the rest of the evening sorting, preparing, and identifying the material we collected.
     Today we spent the day making the final edits on our Llano Estacado mosasaur paper for its final submission tomorrow.
An astragalus and an Arganodus toothplate we collected today.

Gretchen Gurtler excavating some Triassic phytosaur bone material.


June 14, 2008, Saturday 
The sun had yet to breach the horizon as Gretchen, Katherine, and I headed to the field to meet a friend of the landowner. The sunrise was nice but not fabulous. We saw a number of deer on the way into the ranch. Our first stop was at the "Postosuchus" locality that Gretchen and I had visited March 16. There was quite a bit of metoposaur material exposed but it was too highly disintegrated to collect. Gretchen did discover a huge, nice Koskinonodon atlas vertebra. She also found a Doswellia scute, a couple of rauisuchid teeth, and some phytosaur material. Gretchen and Katherine prospected there while the friend and I went back to the north to where he had collected a couple of dentaries. We then picked up Gretchen and Kat and went on another futile attempt to relocate a phytosaur locality the landowner's friend had found. After failing to find the site, Gretchen, Kat, and I returned to the site where I found the disarticulated metoposaur skull on March 16. We found another exploded metoposaur skull and  Gretchen found another rauisuchid tooth. Finally, about 2:00 pm it was getting warm enough that we bailed out and headed home. The rest of the afternoon and early evening was spent preparing Gretchen's specimens. 
Gretchen Gurtler collecting a Rauisuchid tooth.

Metoposaur atlas vertebra and Postosuchus tooth Gretchen discovered at MOTT VPL 3873.


June 1, 2008, Sunday
     Gretchen and I left Lubbock at dawn to head for the locality (0690). It was already very warm and the temperature was to exceed 100 degrees. We saw wild turkey, deer, and a variety of other wildlife on the way to the locality.
     At the locality we started out searching a couple of areas we had not examined in a while. Then we went to Gretchen's phytosaur jaw site. She collected a few elements of float that had been washed out since we were there April 6th. While she was collecting the phytosaur jaw elements, I went to Site 10  and collected some rauisuchid teeth. After that, we headed west.
     To the west, Gretchen found an interesting vertebra, aetosaur dermal scutes, and other elements. I found an interesting aetosaur paramedian scute and several other interesting elements. We bailed out shortly after noon when it began to heat up. The temperature reached 107* for the high. 
Phytosaur tooth


May 19, 2008, Tuesday
It was already a hot day as Gretchen Gürtler and I arrived at the locality. As we prepared to hike into the locality, the landowner's son stopped by to visit. We hiked into the locality and Gretchen took off exploring the ravine that trended to the southwest where she found a skull fragment, possibly of a phytosaur. She found a couple of other bone fragments.
     I found nothing until I reached the southern limit of the locality. There I found part of a rauisuchid tooth, a tiny fragment of an aetosaur scute with the anterior bar,  and some Libognathus material. I found a Libognathus dentary with 2 1/2 teeth, a vertebra, and a distal end of a humerus. We finished examining the locality and left about 3 pm with the temperature nearing 100*. The high for the day ended up at 101*.

Libognathus fossils

May 12, 2008, Monday
     Sunday was a beautiful day in the field. Although it had rained on my locality since Gretchen and I were there a couple of weeks ago, the pickings were very slim. It is hard to complain about not finding much material with the year we have had so far. We saw a belted kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) on the way in to the locality (same place we saw the phalaropes last time). Gretchen collected a small but complete Malerisaurus femur and some vertebrae at Site I. I collected a phalanx at Site XLI and a Trilophosaurus jaw fragment at Site III. I collected an interesting element at Site VI that needs further preparation for identification. I made a few photographs for my research and other than a few minor elements and fragments, we didn't find much else so we left early. 
     This weekend Gretchen and I also went to a friend's ranch to do some target practice. A couple of hundred rounds of ammunition later ........... we had killed a box  pretty dead.
     During the week I didn't get much done except work. I have to develop my negatives for the Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day and get the image submitted.  I also have  to help 
Künstler finish a piece of jewelry he is working on for me in exchange for my helping him with a couple of ceramic pieces. 
A dicynodont phalanx.

Trilphosaurus jaw fragment

Some of our spent casings.


May 6, 2008, Tuesday
     Last week was not a fun week with a variety of medical tests. 
     Then Meaghan, Katherine, Gretchen, and I made parts of the First Friday Art Trail. We had an enjoyable time and there was a very nice exhibit at LHUCA. I was told tonight someone was trying to find my friend K
ünstler at the FFAT to see about buying one of his pieces of artwork. Künstler didn't make the FFAT this time but said he was going to make the next one.
     Saturday and Sunday were spent working on research instead of in the field. We do have to catch up on prep work from time to time. Gretchen  and I spent most of Sunday preparing a variety of specimens. Gretchen prepared an interesting, tiny ilium I found at her skull site April 27. 
     Monday was another day of medical tests and identifying  fossil specimens. We started getting some rain for a change.
     Tuesday was a bit back to normal. We had more rain and hail. 
Several of our localities  got some pretty good rains and may get more. I spent Tuesday evening working with one of my regular models. A few nice drawings that I may be able to develop into something  good. 
Reflections from May showers on streets of Lubbock, Texas.

April 27, 2008, Sunday
    It was a cold, windy, gray morning as Gretchen and I left for the field early this morning. A light mist had fallen in Lubbock in this morning. Our research area had received a heavy rain on Wednesday so we were anxious to get to the field and see what may have been uncovered. There was still a lot of standing water in places when we arrived. On the way in (and out) we saw a pair of Wilson's phalaropes (Steganopus tricolor) in one of the small ponds. First, we went to Site XL to check for additional elements of Gretchen's new phytosaur taxon. Gretchen found a very long (5 cm), gracile, fairly straight ungula (no association to the new taxon). After looking around there for a short while, we headed for sites a bit more protected from the 40 mph+ winds. 
     We had a good day to say the least. Gretchen found her long ungula, phytosaur vertebra, two sub-adult phytosaur ischia, a phytosaur radius, a phytosaur ilium, and an archosaur jaw. I found an interesting vertebra and femur (not one of the usual suspects), an articulated manus of a small reptile (the wrist and three fingers are visible in the block, ~ 5 cm), a number of Trilophosaurus vertebrae, and several vertebrae and spine tables of Momchil Atanassov's new taxon.. We also found a number of other interesting vertebrae, chevrons, another very interesting ilium, another interesting jaw section, and numerous other elements. 
     Just before we left I ran across a small lizard whose markings I did not recognize. Although it had similar markings to one of the earless lizards, the "chevrons" on the back are unlike any lizard I know (but then I am NOT a herpetologist). If anyone recognizes it, please let me know (I know the image is low quality, but if you are interested I will email a higher res image.). 
Gretchen excavating a phytosaur vertebra.

A sub-adult phytosaur ischium Gretchen discovered.

A small lizard.


April 20, 2008, Sunday
     Laid low last weekend and didn't do much but work on papers. Gretchen and I did spend part of Saturday working on her phytosaur material in the lab. Thursday I took her to the "Preview Party" for the Lubbock Arts Festival. Saw many artists/friends, some I have visited with recently and some that I haven't seen in a while. Some I hadn't seen since last year's arts festival. Then, Friday, we went to the opening of the new addition of the Natural Science Research Laboratory.

April 6, 2008, Sunday 
It was a busy couple of weeks. A lot of time was spent sorting and preparing the material we collected in March. 
     Today, Gretchen 
Gürtler, myself, and two grad students left early for the field. We saw a great deal of wildlife today. All together, some dozen white-tailed deer, wild turkey, scaled quail, a garter snake, rattlesnakes, and a pheasant. The two grad students have been working hard the past few months preparing the material Gretchen and I have been collecting. Our first locality was a microfossil site. It had last been visited by Gretchen and I in November, 2006. There was quite a bit of  fossil material exposed. I  found several coelacanth quadrates, three very large procoelous vertebrae of one of Atanassov's new taxa, Rauisuchid (Postosuchus) teeth, Vancleavea vertebrae, and a rattlesnake. Gretchen found a nice Colognathus specimen, a coelacanth quadrate, several very nice, small femora, and some Koskinonodon material. I also went and check on the Tecovasuchus  locality.
     We then went to check on an area where a skull in the Museum's collection had came from. We were unable to find the site; however, I did find a poorly preserved mammoth tusk sticking out of a bank. 
     We went to the third locality where we spread out to cover more territory.  Gretchen and I did head towards the site where she found the scapula-coracoid (may actually be Poposaurus) and the Adamanasuchus paramedian plates.  On the way I found what appears to be another Adamanasuchus paramedian plate and a number of Rauisuchid teeth. We found a number of phytosaur and metoposaur teeth also. After checking the scapula-coracoid site, Gretchen found the ramus of a  phytosaur jaw. 
     We then hiked a half mile to the west. I left the grad students to examine some of the most prolific areas while Gretchen and I headed west. Gretchen found part of a dicynodont squamosal. We  found more phytosaur and metoposaur material. Then I found a partial phytosaur skull and Gretchen found a phytosaur jaw section. I found what appears to be another Adamansuchus paramedian plate. Gretchen then found a small area that had abundant phytosaur material, including dorsal vertebrae, teeth, scutes, etc. Then we headed home.
Gretchen Gurtler collecting Triassic vertebrate fossils.

 
Large phytosaur tooth, possibly Leptosuchus based on nearby skull material.

March 23, 2008, Sunday 
Friday we got a moderately early start to the field on our "Spring Break" holiday, leaving for the field about 8 am. Gretchen and I arrived on the ranch and met with Doug Cunningham and the landowner about 9 am. I then showed Gretchen one of the archeology sites where I worked last year. We met again with Doug and headed to the locality where we were to remove a phytosaur skull and jaw. When we arrived, we briefly surveyed the skull and jaw and then scouted the area. We found a variety of moderately scrappy material. While Gretchen pedestalled the skull, I removed the jaw. After jacketing the skull, we surveyed some more. I found a series of four fused sacral Postosuchus vertebrae. Very close by, I found a Postosuchus coracoid. Then Gretchen found a piece of a Postosuchus maxilla and a large Postosuchus tooth nearby. She then found a very large phytosaur sacral vertebra associated with the proximal ends of a pubis and ischium. 
     The next locality where we went was another one where Doug had previously located a phytosaur skull. I took several photos of the skull and then we continued to the Chindesaurus locality. There wasn't much exposed there. I did find a small "theropod-like" tooth before leaving for the next locality. 
     At the next locality, I planned to show Gretchen a skull and ilium I  had found previously. The skull wasn't worth recovering. There were some ribs and vertebra near the skull. Gretchen began digging to see if there was anything recoverable there. The vertebrae on the surface were bone dust; however, Gretchen did find some underneath (after we moved a 300+ pound rock). We recovered a block with at least three complete phytosaur vertebrae before leaving for Post.
     Saturday, we got a leisurely, late start and went to my research area. First, Gretchen went to where she found her Paleorhinus skull. Then she went to the area where she found part of an unidentified braincase (see Jan. 21). She found a squamosal that appears to belong to a new species of 
Paleorhinus. I went to several of my sites and found a fragment from one of the dicynodont squamosals. We found lots of other fragments and "exploded" metoposaur material, but nothing else of consequence before we returned to Lubbock.
     Today (Sunday) was spent preparing and tentatively identifying the various specimens we collected the past two days. It was a good day for it since it was cold and sleeting early this morning.We collected some interesting material. 
Gretchen Gurtler preparing a Pseudopalatus phytosaur skull for jacketing.

Gretchen Gurtler excavating the squamosal of an new taxon of basal phytosaur.


Gretchen preparing a new basal phytosaur squamosal.


March 16, 2008, Sunday 
We got a late start on the day as we drug ourselves to the field. It was a gray, gloomy day with a cold wind blowing across the plains. We went to a number of localities that hadn't been visited in a year-and-a-half to four years. For the most part, all we found was phytosaur teeth and an abundance for fragmentary and disintegrated material. At the first locality, I found an exploded metoposaur jaw and two exploded fragmentary metoposaur skulls. Then I found some pieces that may belong to a Paleorhinus skull I collected several years ago. Then I discovered a disarticulated metoposaur skull that appears about 50% complete. 
     Gretchen was collecting some fragmentary material and then she found an interesting bone (at right) that she will need to prepare before we hazard an identification. While the Butvar was drying, we went to another locality but didn't find much but phytosaur teeth and coprolites. After going back and collecting Gretchen's specimen, we scouted a wide area prospecting for new sites and trying to locate a "lost" site.
     Earlier in the week, I finished piecing Gretchen's Adamanasuchus paramedian plates together, prepared a Trilophosaurus interclavicle, another Trilophosaurus dentary, and a variety of other elements. Saturday, Gretchen worked on preparing her 
Paleorhinus skull while I worked on a variety of my projects.
Triassic phytosaur lateral tooth I collected today from the Dockum Group.

Gretchen Gurtler collecting a Triassic reptile bone today.

February 24, 2008, Sunday 
     The past couple of weeks have been busy (like that is anything new!). This weekend was spent mostly transcribing field notes and keeping up with "aetogate". We did get some more of Gretchen's Adamanasuchus paramedian plates pieced together, along with her scapulacoracoid, and Koskinonodon interclavicle.
     Friday I exhibited some artwork for the MOTTUA Art History Lecture Series. In two weeks, March 7, I will be exhibiting some of my photography during Lubbock's First Friday Art Trail at BERGMAN's (3838 50th). Nancy Melton exhibits her custom design jewelry there.
     Today Gretchen and I got a late start to a locality we hadn't visited since February 1, 2004. I couldn't believe it had been that long ago. We worked our way over to where we have two phytosaur skulls buried. There is one large skull and jaw upside down and a juvenile phytosaur skull underneath the large skull. The skulls appeared to still be well protected. I began looking for a small skeleton I buried and was looking for on July 31, 1999, when I found a partial skeleton and carapace of a baby aetosaur (paramedian scutes width <2") , possibly belonging to our new aetosaur taxon. Today, finally I found additional material and then even more. Then Gretchen found partial paramedian scutes of two sub-adult aetosaurs. For the rest of the day we found little more.
Gretchen Gurtler excavating a juvenile aetosaur paramedian scute.

"Baby" aetosaur paramedian scutes from our new aetosaur taxon.

February 10, 2008, Sunday 
The week had been rather nice for February. Saturday was beautiful, even if we did spent part of it in the museum and library.
     This morning was cool and brisk. Gretchen 
Gürtler and I didn't leave for the field until about 8:15. It was a beautiful day. We had several areas of the locality that we wanted to examine. Gretchen, as always, started finding interesting material. Most of the initial finds were Koskinonodon, phytosaur, and aetosaur. The first "good" find was a Postosuchus vertebra Gretchen discovered (see top right), while I was collecting some "interesting" coprolites. 
     Next Gretchen found what appears to be a Stagonolepis plate. She found Apachesaurus vertebrae. Then Gretchen  found a Rauisuchid scapula and coracoid (second from top). She continued to search the badlands (3rd from top). It was about this time that we noticed a continuing parade of sandhill cranes migrating north. Seems like a few weeks early, but not too far out of line.
      While the Acryloid was drying, we continued searching. I spotted a  siltstone-sandstone outcrop that reminded me of one where I had collected some tracks several years ago at another Tecovas locality. I went over and almost immediately found some VERY interesting tracks, that until I have time to verify, appear to be the same taxon as what I found earlier. I will have to photograph them and send them to Dr. Robert Weems, who identified the tracks from the first locality. Gretchen came over and we ended up with a couple of slabs with tracks on them. Pretty Way Kewl!!!
     Then 
Gretchen found a small Koskinonodon interclavicle (see photo, 4th from top) and parts of several aetosaur (Adamanasuchus) paramedian plates. I found almost a dozen Rauisuchid teeth in the area, and quite a few phytosaur teeth. 
     While the consolidant dried we ate a bite of lunch and then went to the plant locality. Unfortunately, the clays were too dry and so I left the localities without collecting any more plants. We then went back to remove the interclavicle and after that, we crossed a ridge where we found a number of specimens. 
     Most of the specimens we collected over the ridge are going to require more preparation before they can be identified. I did find more Rauisuchid teeth and a "Coelophysoid" tooth. Gretchen collected several different , interesting skull fragments. I collected a huge phytosaur proximal ischium.
     As we headed back to the pickup, the coyotes serenaded us. We headed home, seeing more white-tailed deer. The sun was setting beautifully in the west as we left to return  for dinner and to sort through some of the day's discoveries. We did well today.
Gretchen Gurtler with a Postosuchus vertebra from the Tecovas Formation.
 
 
 
 
Gretchen collecting a Rauisuchid scapula from the Tecovas Formation of the Dockum Group, West Texas.
 
 

Gretchen Gurtler searching badlands of the Tecovas Formation, Dockum Group, West Texas, for vertebrate fossils.
 
 

Gretchen Gurtler excavating a metoposaurid (Koskinonodon) interclavicle that she discovered.
 
 

Rauisuchid tooth that I collected from the Triassic Tecovas Formation.


February 5, 2008, Tuesday 
Busy week, as usual.  Sorted through more interesting fossil material. 
     I have to help K
ünstler get some ceramic pieces ready for an exhibit in  less than a month.  I don't have time to help. 
     Sunday, Gretchen spent the afternoon preparing her Paleorhinus skull, while I was working on a myriad of different small projects getting a few things wrapped up. Ran across a couple of very interesting fossils from Antarctica. One needs a little preparation to possibly enable identification. Both are very interesting jaw sections.
     Unfortunately, today I did free up a block of time, so I should be able to concentrate on several manuscripts. That should help things progress more rapidly for the next few months.  That should also give me more time to complete the locality database of the extant invertebrate collection (mostly echinoderms) I have donated to the Natural Science Research Lab. 
Gretchen Gurtler prepparing a phytosaur (Parasuchus) skull.

January 28, 2008, Monday 
Besides working, I spent much of the week trying to identify the skull fragment Gretchen found last Monday. I don't know what it is; only what it isn't. It is interesting. Axel Hungerbühler and I kept exchanging email trying to identify a specimen he had and Gretchen's skull fragment. I think we pretty well got Axel's figured out but he has to finish preparing it to tell for sure. No luck with Gretchen's skull fragment.
     Sunday, Gretchen spent much of the day preparing her 
Paleorhinus skull while I worked on a variety of specimens that we collected recently. Then there were elements of the usual and not so usual suspects; metoposaurs, TrilophosaurusDoswellia, phytosaurs, Shuvosaurus, dicynodont, and  Atanassov's taxa. 
Gretchen Gurtler preparing the Parasuchus skull she discovered.

January 21, 2008, Monday 
     It was a cold, gray, windy morning as Gretchen Gürtler and I headed for the field. Gretchen is searching the badlands near her skull site.  It is hard to believe that it has been three months since we have been in the field together (if you don't count Big Bend).  It was a miserable day to begin with, but became nicer as the day wore on and into evening. There had been some erosion at the locality; however for most of the sites there was little material exposed.
     Gretchen went to her Paleorhinus skull site and searched for more material coming out. She found a couple of small fragments but no post-crania. She did find a large skull fragment from another skull nearby. I headed to other localities.  I found a few small vertebrae and the usual stuff. I found one, poor Trilophosaurus jaw fragment (at right). I went back to where I had found a dicynodont squamosal fragment on our last trip and found what may be a dicynodont rib.
     Gretchen and I then went to Site I and visited all of the Sites where 
Paleorhinus material has been collected at the locality before returning home.
     The past few weeks have been busy getting work done. The weather hadn't been conducive for going to the field so I had been working on the collections and on documents. Along with a time consuming class, I have had a couple of new projects added to my agenda.  The hill seems to be growing faster than I am climbing!
Gretchen searching the badlands for more fossils.
Trilophosaurus jaw fragment.

January 1, 2008, Tuesday 
     As I often say, life is like a Jimmy Buffett song. Here is to "just another candle" and our next "trip around the sun". New Year's day was a beautiful day in West Texas. Spent part of the day in "the dungeon" working. 
     To the right is one of the images I am working on to update my portfolios. I have been remiss at updating them because of working on my paleontology  research. I looked at changing my home page and bio, but I haven't changed my feelings expressed on my home page and I think the Bio by Mere couldn't be expressed any better. 
     Wilhelm Künstler came by the past couple of days for my help to work on some art projects. He has a couple of special commissions he is working on with short deadlines; so, I will try to help him a bit.
     Well, I need to get to work. Tomorrow begins a long month at work. Here is a toast to our next "trip around the sun" 
together mein liebchen.
Ifra-red black and white photograph of a century plant in Big Bend National Park.

 
 

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