Back from the field

imgp2873Well after an ‘interesting’ 15 hour bus journey I got back to Beijing at around 6 yesterday morning. The fieldwork could not be described as a major success – we didn’t find much and ran into trouble with the local authorities and an ‘emergency’ find in Shandong stripped some of our team to a cross-country dash to excavate some other stuff at very short notice taking the off-road vehicle with them.

Still, it was some more experience and I got to see some new people and new places and get my hands on some new fossils. I have actually been to Henan province before but was then looking at stuff close to the KT boundary and here was down in the lower part of the Late Cretaceous. Both zones are famous for producing dinosaur eggs in huge quantities and of fabulous qualities. While the former has also been producing some excellent bones as well (such as Huanghetitan and Zhongyuansaurus) the latter has had little to shout about in terms of skeletons so far.

imgp2871So yes, we went to Henan to look for bones rather than the abundant eggs and well, we didn’t find much. As mentioned above our plans were a little crippled by circumstance, and not least three dominating factors. 1. There are not many bones out there. 2. These are really hard to find as there is little exposure and much of the material is actually under the topsoil and finally 3. The local farmers have dug most of it up already (such as from the hole shown here).

That kind of limits your options as prospecting this kind of farmland doesn’t get you very far and the locals can only point you to areas where fossils used to be and generally these are sites they themselves have cleared of anything decent. It was hardly a total washout though as we did find some nice pieces of bone and teeth and have taken some more from the museum for further preparation work in Beijing. These kinds of expeditions are essential however for building a relationship with the locals and finding sites that might be worth tacking properly later. We do have some prospective sites now and a much better idea of the terrain, what is available, where and how it might best be explored next time. A frustrating time then in general, but one with some real potential in the medium and long term.

That’s it for now, I’ll stick up some more posts on the general trip and there are reviews to come of the dinosaur egg museum and dinosaur park where we were based. Obviously the Musings has been a bit quiet of late but now I’m back with proper internet access and lots of new photos and some new topics to write about there will be a flurry of posts over the next week or so I hope.imgp3038

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