This has been an incredibly exciting week for us out here in the field. Yesterday, we went to the Las Cascadas formation to collect sediment for washing and sieving. The quarry had been disappointing us recently, so we were just making a quick stop before we headed on to another locality. As we were showing a guest around the site, I had some free time and I began to poke around in the sediment. Almost immediately, I found a canine. Then another. I called over our supervisor Jorge Moreno so that he could take a look. Over the next few hours, the five of us uncovered more and more – a tooth here, some bone there – and by the time we were done, we had extracted what we believe to be the jaw of a camel! I’m waiting for some photos and conducting some additional research, but I promise I will post more about this soon!
Today, our good luck followed us to the Centenario locality. Shortly after Jeremy and Sophie set about extracting the turtle carapaces they has discovered earlier this week, Jeremy uncovered a big chunk of shining black bone. We began our speculation… It seemed lodged in, like it continued for a bit into the matrix. Were we seeing an epiphysis (end) of a long bone? Could it be a crocodile quadrate (said Jorge)? We had to see more.
This conglomeratic layer had been good to us recently, so we decided to give it a good cleaning. With our machetes, shovels, hammers, and pickaxes, we chopped through and uprooted elephant grass before digging out sediment and exposing a horizontal bench above our find. “Opening the quarry” allows us to work from the top down, increasing access to this productive layer and making it easier to remove sediment without damaging our fossils. Check out the before and after pictures of our quarry below! Tomorrow, we’ll go back to Centenario and continue excavating the cluster of bone that we uncovered today. More updates to come!