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I have been out discovering some fossils and other cool stuff this spring. Lots of generally recognizable material but specifically I dont know what exactly I have here. Hopefully some of the enthusiasts and experts on the forum can help me out?
Norki posted a topic in Partners in Paleontology - Member Contributions to ScienceLast summer, on the last day of a long weekend of backcountry fossil hunting around Lake Diefenbaker, Saskatchewan, my friend and I decided to stop our canoe at a beach where on a previous morning I had found a large baculites cuneatus specimen. This beach was an outcropping of a unit of the Bearpaw formation known as the Demaine sand, and dated roughly to the late Campanian. The locality was chock full of golfball to softball-sized nodules, each with a delicate, coalified fossil inside, ranging from crustacean parts, chips of driftwood, to loose vertebrae. It wasn't long before I was looking down at a split nodule containing the symmetrical lines I knew were a skull. So of course, I assembled it together as best as I could, wrapped it in a sock, and we loaded back into the boat to head home. Some typical terrain in the area. The formerly glacial South Saskatchewan River carves deep into the marine clays and sands of the Bearpaw formation: The nodule, rather unceremoniously wrapped in a wool sock: And unwrapped. Note the cervical vertebra just above the posterior end of the skull, and how part of the end of the snout is missing (sorry about the lack of scale bar, there's a photo further down the post with proper scale): I sent a photo to a paleontologist friend, and was quickly referred to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, who of course were eager to accept the fossil (not to mention that I was technically legally obliged to hand it over, per the Saskatchewan Heritage Property Act... But it's what I wanted to do anyway!). About a month later, my friend and I met with two other paleontologists down at Lake Diefenbaker to deliver the fossil (this time more carefully wrapped in a shoebox...) and to show them the site where we had found it. One long and wet trip in the zodiac raft later, we were there. We assisted in the collection of more samples, this time coming up with an even broader variety of flora and fauna, including a small crinoid, some wood chips with amber, and some more decapods. One of the two paleontologists was excited to suggest that the locality probably represented a near-shore lagoon environment, and that the museum would likely be back to do some more work there at a later date. Unfortunately, we were unable to do so that summer because of the seasonally rising water levels of the lake, which flooded the site, but I've been told that my friend and I will be invited to assist with the operation again this following season. As for the fossil, it has since been delivered to McGill University to be CT scanned. Apparently, distinguishing the bone from the matrix has been long and tedious work, and not much news has reached us since the specimen was delivered some time last September. Here is an individual slice from the CT scan, from near the back of the braincase - notice how porous the bone material is, which is apparently another indicator that this skull belonged to a juvenile: I have been in close correspondence with the paleontologist from the Royal Sask. Museum who will be writing the paper to describe the find, but everything is more or less at a standstill until the work on the CT scan is finished. It's been a rather long wait, but I'm looking forward to its publication - I have been told that the museum intends to hold a press conference after the specimen has been described, and that my friend and I will be credited and involved in the reveal. So far, the museum has kept everything about the discovery deliberately vague, aside from a brief mention in a press conference, which informed an article that circulated around the Canadian media late last summer: https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/scientists-in-saskatchewan-discover-new-multimillion-year-old-fossils It's been an exciting and fulfilling experience overall, and I can't wait to get back into the field, this time with a more meticulous and careful attitude, knowing that there's scientific potential to be had from my future contributions. Anyway, here are some more photos from the lab at the RSM, with scale bar: Decapod claw: Crinoid crown: Thanks for your attention.