20 December 2010

Preparation and Mounting

I couldn’t find the master list that the scientists made before departing when I was taking pictures last night, but it showed up in the laboratory this morning.  Everything was duly checked off as the bags were packed:


After soaking and some additional gentle cleaning, the fossilized bones were laid out to be assembled:


The lead paleontologist did the actual assembly, while his able assistants documented the process and looked things up on the computer:

100_2713   100_2714

Bug did most of the assembly, but Mom-the-muscle had to be called in occasionally to snap together a stubborn joint.  My big clumsy thumbs also cracked the large claw on one foot, but it wasn’t completely broken and didn’t fall off, so I think it will be fine as a museum model if it isn’t touched too much!  The lead paleontologist poses with the finished skeleton:


And, finally, the display is assembled on the museum shelf:


There is a map of Asia, some information about Velociraptors and the finished skeleton.  Museum staff are duly impressed by the new exhibit.

19 December 2010

Expedition to Mongolia

Bug has been completely into dinosaurs and prehistoric life again recently.  For his birthday, the presents were pretty much all dinos, all the time.  One of the gifts from grandma and grandpa was a dinosaur excavation.  He has been excited to do it since he opened it, but we finally found a good time to go on our expedition.  He consulted his handy-dandy paleontologist map and it showed a hot spot for excavation of a Velociraptor in the Gobi.

He and his colleague, Bean, planned things out carefully.  First, they made a checklist of the gear they would need to bring with them.  Water bottles, of course, since it is the desert.  All of their paleontologist tools.  They both geared up in their heavy hiking boots so they wouldn’t get bit by scorpions.  When the dining room table was finally cleared after dinner, they set out for the Gobi.

Once there, the dig begins:


The first bone is exposed:


It turned out to be a hand.  I called it a “front foot,” but was properly chastised by the lead paleontologist.  Velociraptor runs on two legs, therefore, the front limb is a “hand.”

The excavation continues as they are joined by a junior colleague, Beeb:


More bones exposed:


Digging in the desert is dirty work:


And hot, under the relentless sunshine.  The whole crew decided that they had better put on hats to shield themselves from the sun:



The only bad event of the whole expedition was when the junior paleontologist hurt his hand on the rock hammer.  We told him that I was documenting the injury so he could file a claim with OSHA when they returned to the U.S.  Actually it was because the tear trails on the dusty cheeks were so stinkin’ cute.


The bones are being soaked and cleaned overnight.  Tomorrow the paleontologists will return to their labs to finish preparing and mounting the skeleton.  Stay tuned!