Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thunder Beast (Brontothere)

This is what I've been mostly doing at work lately, but now the project is finished. We found a brontothere skeleton that's probably about 25% complete. I did all the prep on it and here are a few before and after pictures.

This block contained the pelvis, left ankle, and foot. The ankle was sitting right in the big hole in the middle of the pelvis. You can see parts of the right and left ilia in the upper right and the synsacrum (fused sacral vertebra) between them. In the center, triangular part the ankle bones are poking out.Articulated ankle (distal tibia, astragalus, and calcaneum) removed from the block.
Complete pelvis, well nearly complete, some of the thin bone from the ilia is missing.
This block was found next to the previous one. It was farther back in the outcrop, so the matrix (rock surrounding the bone) was really hard. It contined 1 dorsal vertebra, the rest of the left leg, and 10 ribs. The smaller blocks behind it were associated (fell off of the larger block). They contained a couple more ribs, other pieces of the ribs from the larger block, and another partial vertebra. Ribs are poking out at the top. The knee joint (tibia and femur) are visible at the bottom.
Nearly complete dorsal vertebra, only the left prezygopophesis and transverse process (sticky-outy parts) were missing.
Seven of the ribs from that block. You can tell that this guy was pretty jumbled up.

Articulated left leg. The proximal tibia and fibula are on the left, the femur is on the right. Incidentally, the proximal femur was actually in another smaller block with another vertebra smashed under it.
Of the entire skeleton, this is the only cranial element we found. It's an incisor (front tooth). I'm not sure if it's upper or lower, I'll have to look into that while I try to identify some of the more beat up bones. I'm fairly certain that there is more of this thunder beast out there, hopefully the skull or jaws are still there and didn't weather away 50 years ago.I've tentatively identified this brontothere as Eotitanotherium osborni based on the astragalus, hopefully my boss lets us go back to see if there is more and maybe we can nail it down better with a skull!

Take luck,



Mama said...

Well, that was interesting and I really understood the comment "sticky outy things". You do such a nice job with that work!

Amanda said...

Neato! Fossils are too cool, huh?

Carterista said...

Wow, Dan. So cool to hear your dino lingo. You really are a scientist. I still think it is way cool that you are a paleontologist. I mean, how many kids who love dinos really grow up to be one? (not a dino.)
What do you think happened to that guy. An attack? Massive tectonic movement? Just a little rock shifting? (I'm trying to sound like I know something. Hahaha!)

becca said...

Dan, this really is almost unbelievable to me. know so much! I wish I could visit the dessert with your eyes and see what you see because of what you know.