First Impressions of the 2015 Field Season, by our Field Assistant and Intern

Lab Note #12
Jul 16, 2015

The Bighorn Basin Dinosaur Project field season 2015 is officially underway, and describing the atmosphere around camp as excited would be an understatement. Will Brandenberger here, and I'm going to fill you in on what has taken place here at the YBRA so far. We have a massive crew this year, and everyone safely arrived at basecamp despite the treacherous mountain road. After introductions, first impressions and multiple milkshakes from the Red Box Car we finally got settled into our cabins. You can really feel the history in this place, and I for one feel as if i'm walking in the footsteps of giants (both people and dinosaurs). To be in a place where so many famous scientists have studied is really profound, and I feel blessed to be sharing it with a crew as passionate about paleontology as myself. It is about an hours drive from our basecamp to the head of the box canyon we call Johnsonops Hill. It is here that we will be doing most of our field work. The scorched sandstone cliffs and bentonite buttes are a far cry from the swampy delta our dinosaurs called home, and seeing this dramatic shift in landscape makes me happy to call such an interesting place as planet Earth my home. We are joined this year by the founders and operators of Experiment.com, and we couldn't be more happy to have them with us. Without their hard work and support we would not be where we are today.



No, not for the faint of heart at all. Sometimes a post-lunch nap is in order.
Everyone resting at the top of the hill at the end of the day.
It's a good thing that we have such a hardy crew, because Johnsonops Hill is not for the faint of heart. The heat is inescapable, and the biting flies are so numerous they crawl on the inside of my sunglasses. However, this is to be expected, dinosaurs aren't fond of dying in convenient places. Despite all of this, the love of dinosaurs outweighs any discomfort we experience. There is so much to learn out here. We currently have four active quarries going, and new float is discovered daily. Having professional paleontologists around to answer questions is wonderful, and at any given time Jason Poole has a swarm of students following him across the badlands like a line of baby ducklings. After successful excavation of our T. rex femur, Rodrigo Pellegrini from the NJSM instructed several students on how to properly plaster jacket a fossil. The femur is now safely encased in a plaster jacket and we look forward to getting it back to the lab for more extensive prep work. Today, Jason Schein and Brittany Malinowski are beginning to film in the field for the NJSM ask the experts video series. This exciting project will be a wonderful interpretive tool, and an exciting look into the life of a professional paleontologist.
Jason Poole and some of the crew eating dinner in the lodge.
We are halfway through our first week, and the excitement is just getting started. We were joined in the field yesterday by a crew of geologists from West Chester University. Upon the discovery of a hadrosaur longbone, they ditched their school work and became paleontologists for the day. Fossil fever is contagious no matter what degree you are pursuing! We were also joined by the famous Dr. Brent Breithaupt from the BLM, a true giant in the field. The discoveries are piling up, and if i can quote Jurassic Park, "Hold onto your butts!" because we are just getting started. As cool as our quarries, unscathed micro-sites and paleo-drones are, my favorite part of BBDP 2015 is having a world famous paleontologist pour my juice at dinner.
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