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ziggycardon

Hi everyone! 


I have just returned from a fieldschool to Poland which was organized by the BVP (Belgium Society for Paleontology) in association with the Universities of Opole and Gdansk. 

The fieldschool started on the 9th july and ended on july 17. 
The first 2-3 days of the trip took place in the historic city of Gdansk which lies by the Baltic Sea where the main focus was on Baltic Amber. This included lectures, workshops, a small museum tour and some trips to the beach in search for amber. 

For the 2nd part of the trip we travelled to the south towards Opole and more specifically the Jurapark and digsite in Krasiejow where we had multiple lectures, workshops, and fieldwork in both Krasiejow and other quarries in the area.

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So in this topic I wanted to make a day by day report on this amazing trip and experience. 

Since we travelled by car I only returned yesterday evening so most of the finds still have to be photographed/prepped so expect them somewhere at the end of this topic (which might also take a few days to complete.)

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ziggycardon

Day 1 (Saturday 09/07): 

My girlfriend and I arrived in Gdansk where we unpacked and stayed in a student house.
We met up with the rest of our group and got an introduction and small tour around the University grounds by professor Jacek Szwedo.

After the tour and when the last people arrived we all went to a local pancake restaurant to get to know each other. 
Turns out due to the recent crisis in bordering Ukraïne we were with a smaller group than usual (only 9 people instead of the planned 15).

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Day 2 (Sunday 10/07): 

Our 2nd day was entirely focussed on baltic amber and we got multiple lectures about this subject by professor Jacek Szwedo

First we got a small tour around the university building/museum (which you'll see a bit later) and we got a look in the locale where the amber was cut, polished and the inclusions studied.

Gdansk is an interesting place for Baltic amber as the bay of Gdansk holds some of the biggest deposits of Baltic Amber in the baltic sea, which is why most of the baltic amber comes from either Gdansk (Poland) or Kaliningrad (Russia) where with the latter it is also mined (approx 160 tonnes a month according to the professor)

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A large piece of Ethiopian amber (Miocene)

The university of Gdansk currently has the largest collection of Ethiopian collection in the world.

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Another very interesting thing we got showed was this piece of petrified wood which was mined in nearby Kaliningrad (Russia) which was fossilized while seeping resin which turned into amber. 

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Eventually we where given a few pieces of raw Baltic Amber to prep with sandpaper and polish. 

This was quite a fun experience and the pieces turned out fine, unfortunately most were without inclusions. 
2 people found a fossil fly in pieces and I had some fungi in one of the pieces.

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Like I previously said we got a small tour through the Biology building/museum of the university which had some taxidermy, botanical, zoölogical and paleontical displays..

 

A skeleton of a finwhale

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Whale baleens

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A display featuring human evolution

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A gorgeous tank with cichlids from lake Malawi

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Some taxidermy specimens:

Painted Dog, Scimitar oryx, European Bison

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Rothschild's Giraffe, White Rhino, Hippo 

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White Rhino skull

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Indian Elephant skull

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Hippo skull

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A large paludarium with multiple species of carnivorous plants

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ziggycardon

They also had some paleontological displays like this display with fossils and models from the site at Krasiejow (Carnian/Norian, Triassic) which we would visit later that week.

 

Metoposaurus diagnosticus skulls

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Models of Metoposaurus and Silesaurus

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fossils from Krasiejow

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There was also a display with fossils from the Odra Quarry in Opole (Turonian, Cretaceous) which we would also visit later that week.

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A small display with finds from various Muschelchalk finds from quarries in the Opole region.

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ziggycardon

And one very cool and rather new thing that they have at the university is a very cool amber exhibit that center around amber.

This exhibit is free to visit in the University of Gdansk

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Pieces of Baltic amber with plant inclusions

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Amber from around the world

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Oldest known amber to house inclusions from the Triassic (230 mya) found in the Italian Alpes

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ziggycardon

And ofcourse all the gorgeous pieces with inclusions which can be seen through magnifying lenses in the exhibit:

 

An insect

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Insect

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Silverfish

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Beetle

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Woodlice (Isopoda)

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Spider

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Long legged fly (Dolichopodidae)

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Ant

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Millipede

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Some sort of fly

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Pseudoscorpion

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Hoverfly (Syrphidae)

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Planthopper (Fulgoromorpha)

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caddisfly (Trichoptera)

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Mosquito (Culicidae)

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A stonefly (Plecoptera)

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A dance fly (Empididae)

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A mayfly (Ephemeroptera)

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A cockroach

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A cockroach nimph

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A termite

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A moth

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A butterfly

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A caterpillar of a butterfly

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A true bug (Heteroptera)

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A crane fly (Elephantomyia)

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A parasitic wasp

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Lacewing (Neuroptera)

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A mantis

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A stick insect

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Swarm of biting midges (Ceratopogonidae)

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Mating flies (Dolichopodidae)

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A gladiator (Mantophasmatodea)

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A centipede

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A freshwater snail (Gastropoda)

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A grasshopper

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A honey bee (Apidae)

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A ground beetle (Carabidae)

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Reptile skin

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Eventually we ended the day by going to a beach after sunset in search for amber, unfortunately we hadn't had any luck that night so we returned to another part of the beach the next evening...

 

Edited by ziggycardon
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DPS Ammonite

 Nice amber. 
 

The fossil bee reminds me of a scientist, Raul Cano, who extracted live yeast from a 45 million year old bee which was used to brew beer. I wonder if they have extracted any live microorganisms from amber in Gdansk University?

 

https://www.sfgate.com/food/article/The-East-Bay-beer-that-s-45-million-years-old-9177673.php

 

 

https://www.wired.com/2009/07/ff-primordial-yeast/amp

 

 

C07C0CD4-F5E8-4788-9D95-0EC14EE1A812.jpeg

Edited by DPS Ammonite
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On 7/19/2022 at 5:19 PM, DPS Ammonite said:

 Nice amber. 
 

The fossil bee reminds me of a scientist, Raul Cano, who extracted live yeast from a 45 million year old bee which was used to brew beer. I wonder if they have extracted any live microorganisms from amber in Gdansk University?

 

https://www.sfgate.com/food/article/The-East-Bay-beer-that-s-45-million-years-old-9177673.php

 

 

https://www.wired.com/2009/07/ff-primordial-yeast/amp

 

 

C07C0CD4-F5E8-4788-9D95-0EC14EE1A812.jpeg

That is quite amazing! 
I am not entirely sure, but if I remember correctly I believe the professor did tell us something about some kind of living fungi that was trapped in amber, but I am not 100 % sure.

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Day 3 (Monday 11/07):

During our 3rd day we went on our first real field trip to Orłowo Cliff in Gdynia to search for fossils in erratick boulders which were transported during the ice ages from Scandinavia. 

According to Agata Kowalewska who accompanied us to this location (as she does research on the trilobites and ostracods in these rocks) most of the erratick boulders originate from Gotland in Sweden and date back to the Silurian (Pridoli) although some of the erraticks can also date back to the cambrian, ordovician and cretaceous.

It was a gorgeous beach to search for rocks which were just lying on the beach, we often said to each other "there are worse places to look for fossils"

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One of the members was lucky enough to find a Trilobite pygidium which he donated to Agata for her research. 
My girlfriend and I mainly found Brachiopods, Ostracods, a cross section of a Orthocone, a sponge and some fish material.

Here are some of the finds: (I know the photo's aren't exactly clear, will make some better ones with better lighting at the end of the topic:

 

A sponge

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A Brachiopod (Silurian originally from Gotland)

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Fish material (a spine and a tooth or scale?) (Silurian originally from Gotland)

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Fish scales

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Brachiopod (Silurian, originally from Gotland)

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Sponge

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Brachipods (Silurian, originally from Gotland)

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Probably an Ostracod (Silurian, originally from Gotland)

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Orthocone cross-section (Silurian, originally from Gotland)

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After out field trip to the cliff we made a last minute decision to visit the amber museum in Gdansk, Unfortunately all the tickets for the day were sold out already...

So we decided to explore the historic city of Gdansk instead which was probably the better choice! :D 

 

But we managed to get a peek at the worlds largest amber which was found in Sumatra and weight 68.20 kg (150.35 lb). 
But according to professor Szwedo this isn't in fact the larges piece of amber discovered, he says a piece of Bornean amber was once discovered from 3 meters long and 1,5 meters wide but due to it's size they had to cut the piece into 3 smaller pieces which made it loose out to this piece.

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Eventually we ended the day by going on another nighttime hunt for baltic amber, this time a few km away from the first spot which was a bit more succesfull. 
This time we found a few very small pieces of baltic amber, unfortunately summer isn't the best time to look for amber on the coast but we had a great time nonetheless20220711_230206.thumb.jpg.2ed50681f9c26a6f8650f04b73995c56.jpg

 

 

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Great trip report so far, Ken! Really enjoying the read :default_clap2:

 

33 minutes ago, ziggycardon said:

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These are very interesting statues. They're very similar in appearance to the one found at Livu Laukums/Square in Rīga, supposedly of Liv origin. The Livs were a Finno-Ugrian people that descended from Scandinavia and are some of the oldest (if not the oldest) inhabitants of the regions around the Baltic Sea. Doesn't seem unimaginable that they made their way all around to Gdańsk as well...

 

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33 minutes ago, ziggycardon said:

Eventually we ended the day by going on another nighttime hunt for baltic amber, this time a few km away from the first spot which was a bit more succesfull. 
This time we found a few very small pieces of baltic amber, unfortunately summer isn't the best time to look for amber on the coast but we had a great time nonetheles

 

Yeah, summer is never the best time to go fossil hunting along the coast. However, I also think much depends on your hunting technique. I, for example, have never been successful in finding amber along the Latvian coast, although, supposedly, amber is to be found there. The guy in this video shows how he uses fishing nets to catch the floating amber out of the water, which may be a more successful strategy than trying to find it washed up on the shore.

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, pachy-pleuro-whatnot-odon said:

Yeah, summer is never the best time to go fossil hunting along the coast. However, I also think much depends on your hunting technique. I, for example, have never been successful in finding amber along the Latvian coast, although, supposedly, amber is to be found there. The guy in this video shows how he uses fishing nets to catch the floating amber out of the water, which may be a more successful strategy than trying to find it washed up on the shore.

 

Thank you! 

And yes indeed, autumn is better for searching for amber with all the storms and the fewer tourists. 
We went at night with our UV flashlights and the 2nd place we went bordered close to a natural reserve which meant fewer people did beachcombing there and there was more washed up material where the amber was laying between. 
Some of the pieces were indeed floating in some sort of small "tidal" pools which made them easily recognisable. :) 

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Day 4 (Tuesday 12/07):

This was a day of car travel, after the breakfast we left for Krasiejow. 

We arrived late in the afternoon and were welcomed by paleontologists Elena Yazykova and John Jagt and had diner in the park afterwards.

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I also made a new friend, an amazing friendly mouflon!

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We stayed only a 5 minute walk away from the park in some very charming chalets. 

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Day 5 (Wednesday 13/07):

We started the day with a lecture about the famous site at Krasiejow.

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After the lecture we went straight to the digsite in Krasiejow itself which lied in the back of the jurapark. 

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The digsite at Krasiejow dates back to the Norian in the Triassic (around 225 - 215 mya).

The paleo-environment at Krasiejow was probably similar to that of the Australian freshwater habitats, with times of droughts and times of heavy rains and monsoons. 

Although because it was located relatively close to the sea, it probably had some kind of micro climate which prevented it from drying out entirely.

Krasiejow is known for its vast bonebeds with hundreds if not thousands of Metoposaurus bones and skulls which were all washed together during the monsoons. 

But Metoposaurus wasn't the only creature to have lived here, another giant amphibian named Cyclotosaurus intermedius is also known from this site. 
As well as the Phytosaur "Paleorhinus", the Aetosaur "Stagonolepis olenkae", a gliding reptile named Ozimek volans, the Archosaur "Polonosuchus" and the Dinosauromorph 'Silesaurus opolensis".

Our fossil club works together with the university of Opole during this dig and all finds are meant for scientific research. 

It is absolutely forbidden to search for fossils yourself at this site as these fossils are considered Polish heritage and no fossils can be brought home unless the researchers at Krasiejow provide you with official paperwork that document and sort of loan you the fossils. 

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First we needed to clear some rubble from the layer so we can start a clean dig. 
It took some labour and shoveling but after a couple of hours we finally removed enough rubble and we could start scraping away the clay layer by layer until we were at the bonebed.

The cool thing about the digsite is that is overlooks the giant dinosaur models of the park.

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One of our member Jonathan who is professional paleontologist and curator at the oertijdmuseum at Boxtel in the Netherlands did find some amazing things early one like some Metoposaurus vertebrae and a nice Phytosaur tooth.

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After lunch we went to make a quick visit to the local museum at Krasiejow which houses lot's of fossils from the site at Krasiejow as well as fossils from other locations in the Opole region.

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A large Lewiceras peramplum found in the Odra Quarry, Opole

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Lots of Triassic fossils from the Krasiejow site

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Some various finds from all over Poland

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Fossils from the Odro Quarry in Opole

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After the visit to the museum we went back to the quarry but not before stopping at the famous pavillion in the jura park which exposes a large section of the bonebed to show the public how the fossils are in the field. 
The amound of fossils in this location is simply breathtaking...

 

Mounted replica's of Silesaurus opolensis and Metoposaurus

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A replica skeleton of Silesaurus opolensis

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The big bonebed:

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After the dig (we cleared all the rubble, had lunch, visited the Krasiejow museum, went to the pavilion and eventually dig some excavating) we returned to the restaurant of the park but not without taking the scenic route! ;) 

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3 hours ago, ziggycardon said:

After lunch we went to make a quick visit to the local museum at Krasiejow which houses lot's of fossils from the site at Krasiejow as well as fossils from other locations in the Opole region.

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Must've missed that the first time around, but this phytosaur jaw is (j)awesome! :Jumping:

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Day 6 (Thursday 14/07):

For our 2nd day in the Opole are we left by bus from the Jurapark in Krasiejow to an abondoned Muschelchalk quarry in Gogolin. 

Our excursion to this quarry was led by professor Adam Bodzioch from the Opole University.

The quarry we visited dates back to the early Muschelchalk (Rötkalk/Lower Muschelchalk Boundary) around 247 mya. 

The location is seldom visited by other collectors as each year our club finds the site untouched since the last visit. This might be due to the fact that the material is extremely hard to work with...

 

For me this was the most intensive day of the entire trip, not only was it the hottest day, but the work needed to extract the slabs was also harder than in the other locations we visited. 

Standard tools for the quarry were crowbars and heavy hammers to loosen the slabs which held the bonebed. 
Unfortunately for us due to plant roots at the layer, a lot of mud and clay had seeped between the cracks in the layer right down to the bonebed which made it very hard to recognise the tiny bit of fossil bone. 

Probably the biggest problem with this material is the fact that is extremely hard to prepare. Most you find cross sections of the bones on the rocks and you have to puzzle and glue pieces together to prep later. 
The matrix is extremely hard to prepare while the bone are extremely soft and fragile which doesn't make for a great combo. Even some of the more experienced preppers in our group are still hesitant to start prepping the material. 
Although one of our members Jonathan who is also curator at the Oertijdmuseum in boxtel did manage to prep some stuff from this location. Jonathan showed us some of the prepped stuff during our visit at the museum yesterday and they did turn out as very beautiful pieces. 

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A Nothosaurian rib found near perfectly in the field by Jonathan

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Here are 2 good pieces I got after our visit at Gogolin, they also gave me a bucket full of puzzle 'n prep material but I'll probably let that stay in that bucket until I am more confident in preperation.

 

A partial exposed rib bone

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A split vertrebrae

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Some pictures with fossils from the location to give good view how the material looks after prep.

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Examples-of-vertebrate-fossils-from-the-Roet-Muschelkalk-boundary-at-Gogolin-1-T_fig4_280681057

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After our dig we went to a 2nd quarry where we got a tour from professor Bodzioch, who showed of some of the stratigraphy from the area.

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Day 7 (Friday 15/07):

This day was our 2nd field day in Krasiejow itself, but due to heavy rain during the night the quarry was flooded a little bit which needed some time to dry, so we spent our morning and the early noon in the preperation lab. 

Unfortunately the preperation lab in the Jura Park is more a tourist attraction that an actual prep lad as the lighting is quite dim and there are barely any tools present (no mechanical tools at all). 

Luckily many members had tools of their own and excursion leader Tom brought some mechanical tools as well for prepping. 

 

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First they gave us some old unlabeled field jackets from 2007 but since they weren't marked with where the fossils were located, what fossils were in it. 
None of the finds had ben threated or conserved which meant that lot so much of the clay had crumbled and dried out that many of the fossils had been damaged or even reduced to dust. 
So we quickly gave up on these jackets and moved on to some smaller and easier material.

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My girlfriend was given a piece which we assumed was a tail vert belonging to a Phytosaur

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Tinneke was working on a piece of jaw belonging to Metoposaurus

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While Ad was working on a Metoposaurus vert

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