Jump to content
SailingAlongToo

Miocene Whale Recovered From & for Display at VA State Park

Recommended Posts

RJB

Wow, A very good report.  I dont often sit and read this much, but could not help it with this one.  Thanks

 

RB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SailingAlongToo

So, I had promised to post some photos as the preparation of the skull progressed, and I forgot. @MarcoSr posted some of the current status above in his December 6th update.

 

Here are few photos from this past January when we started matrix removal. It was a nasty cold weekend with the rivers and banks iced over, so we all decided to get our "fossil fix" by meeting up at Westmoreland State Park and beginning the long and laborious preparation job.

 

The 1st photo shows the jacketed skull waiting for some serious TLC. The Park was nice enough to store it in their Maintenance Shop since it was their off-season, which gave us a great place to work on it. I was going to crop the photo but the jacket sitting in front of the door really shows the scale. You can compare this photo to the photos from last month that MarcoSr posted. 

P1060097.thumb.JPG.d72721cae49ca6ce313f21dd952699ad.JPG

 

2nd photo shows us getting down to business, slowly removing matrix with small tools. Dental picks work really well.

P1060163.thumb.JPG.f6470651e5248df32094a128205d0041.JPG

 

3rd photo shows Mel (in red hat) and @bmitchell887 (Brian in tan) looking at a photo of a baleen whale skull on the phone screen while Dr. Wilson (in multi-colored hat) and @Daleksec (Trevor in gray hoodie) continue working. I'm wearing black in the background. Mrs.SA2 is taking photos and video since she was still recovering from her broken arm and dislocated elbow at this point.

P1060101.thumb.JPG.b989d6e00d0ff9e584fe124b6d86a219.JPG

 

Another shot of Dr. Wilson and Trevor working. Notice how we "normal" people are all bundled up and Trevor is wearing shorts? Mrs.SA2 is in the green coat with black hat. I think Mel and Brian were trying to decide what they wanted on the pizza at this point.

20180106_094937.jpg.fa2fb48d935fcdb28a987a75192914ee.jpg

 

Another photo of the work progressing. Interesting fossil fact, Brian and Dr. Wilson got engaged on a fossil hunting trip with Mrs.SA2 and I along the Potomac River a few years ago. Cute couple and a lot of fun to hang out with.

P1060137.thumb.JPG.96f33efe754eac74436d5eb825b57a71.JPG

 

Here is a photo from mid-March on our third prep day. Mel is in the red hat again, Brian in the blue t-shirt, Trevor in the blue hoodie and Dr. Wilson in the blue ball cap.

5c1aa1576aff8_Melteachingprepclass.thumb.JPG.62cc662de547e2bc9aa70584c3c64356.JPG

 

More from mid-March in next post.

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SailingAlongToo

As that March day progressed, 3 ear bones, multiple cervical vertebrae and upper and lower jaw pieces started to be uncovered. Here is Trevor doing the detailed, delicate work. I'm pretty sure fossil prepping will be his profession one day soon. 1 of the ear bones is just below the bristles of his brush. Vertebrae are at the end of the brush handle. You can see jaw/snout running down the middle of the jacket.

P3110022.thumb.JPG.d78806e309760538dca66eeacd9efe98.JPG

 

This photo shows the bones as they became exposed. We applied PVA to prevent them from crumbling as they dried.

P3110030.thumb.JPG.fcf4f94af832111b5004bce2e7650f8f.JPG

 

Quite a bit of matrix has been removed in this photo and we were ready to move the jacket to the Visitors' Center so the public could watch us finish the prep work. Vertebrae are exposed in the top, left of the jacket with several ear bones exposed on the left side.

P5050032.thumb.JPG.9fca821ad2f02860dbe3b9327ca0d6ea.JPG

 

Here is the jacket loaded in the truck for transport to the Park's Visitors' Center. Mel and Trevor rode with it to make sure it didn't move or fall out.

5c1aa656ca7dc_MelandTrevorwithSkull.JPG.54ab594340cc7c667ab2654ba454225e.JPG

 

The Park set up a place for us to finish working on the skull right in the middle of the Visitors' Center so the public could watch. Since we are so messy they even put down some carpet. 

P5050034.thumb.JPG.76d16e357f1a7ba15113c0143ec1eb5e.JPG

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SailingAlongToo

In early May, it was time to bring the skull inside for the rest of the prep. Here is Michael (in uniform), Mel in red, me (in tan shirt facing camera), Trevor (behind door in green) and Ranger Steve (sunglasses in right window) carrying the skull through the front doors.

Congratulations go out to Michael who just graduated from the VA Park Ranger Academy last month. He now has a gun, badge, truck with blue lights and ticket book. I pity the trespassers and poachers that run afoul of him. 

P5050037.JPG.a8d7f8e6be925815231c779780beed14.JPG

 

Finally, setting it down on the temporary display table. Ranger Steve is on the right and came in on his day off to help us finish the move.

P5050040.thumb.JPG.a1062acffe34b499b36481d12cb7737d.JPG

 

Looking good!

P5050043.JPG.261ae4958c52c5cd7091bae07e56570c.JPG

 

Vertebrae, ear bones, base of skull, snout and mandible are all at least partially visible at this point.

P5050049.JPG.099f0a634b8e6636a030e19f2d2df926.JPG

 

Right after we moved the skull into the Visitors' Center, Mel moved out to their ranch in Nebraska for the summer. Turns out, he's still out there now and has permanently moved to South Dakota to play with dinosaurs in addition to their Oligocene and Eocene fossils on the ranch.

 

Over the summer, Mrs.SA2 and I would go up to the Park and work on the skull, then send Mel photos, so he could tell us what to do next. Here she is on Memorial Day in all her "pinkness".

20181219_134359_resized.jpg.75db8739affcc66807982e4533c44596.jpg

 

Our friend Cathy (of Mid-Atlantic Fossil and Nature Adventures and also current President of the Delaware Valley Paleontological Society [DVPS]) was with us. She is the 1st female President in the clubs history. Cathy is shown discussing the VA Miocene with 2 of the Park's "educators" so they can pass it on to the visitors. Nicole, 1 of our favorite Park Educators is on the right. You can see photos hanging on the rope that show the process of excavating the skull from the cliffs and getting it to this point. 

20181219_134503_resized.jpg.37c71ff47c2923646e921f7f82ea3c72.jpg

 

Can you say ear bones? What about bulla and periotic?

20181219_134432_resized.jpg.d55a3810403c4274c26cac2d807f0ac8.jpg

 

MarcoSr's post from December 6th shows the most current status as he and Dr. Weems worked on the skull for 3 days.

 

Cheers!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ludwigia

Thanks for keeping us up to date!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
digit

Very cool--thanks for the update!

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SailingAlongToo

@eannis6 did you go see the skull while you were at Westmoreland?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RCW3D

Pretty wild to read through the entire thread again, when the original excavation took place, Tracie and I were down river...who knew that 1 1/2 years later we would be assisting in the removal of what was left. Chantel and Tracie had the easy jobs as @bmitchell887 and I had to supervise! :heartylaugh: (Glad Tracie isn't on here to read that last sentence)

 

Cool story about this last excavation, Chantel found a a beautiful cowshark tooth laying tight to the humerous...it took her a good amount of time to remove it in one piece. A won't reveal what happened to it (air pocket Brian, air pocket! :DOH:), I'll just say that I'm glad that I wasn't the guilty party. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
RJB

  Quite the project this.  A really interesting read too.  Love all the pics.  Looking forward to finding out what species this is?

 

RB

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
JarrodB

Cool story and find. Thanks for sharing. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
eannis6
On 6/14/2019 at 5:11 PM, SailingAlongToo said:

@eannis6 did you go see the skull while you were at Westmoreland?

I would have loved to, but I actually did not know it was found!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
FossilSniper

This is great! Can't wait for more updates.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ash

@MarcoSr update time, mate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
MarcoSr
8 hours ago, Ash said:

@MarcoSr update time, mate.

 

Unfortunately, I'm not aware of much further progress.  Dr. Robert Weems wanted to consult with a few other Paleontologists like @Boesse before he restored the rest of the skull to confirm that he had everything positioned properly (bone pieces were pretty fragmented in places and could have moved around in relation to each other) and to hear other opinions on the ID of the specimen.  Dr. Weems is pulled in many directions with many projects.  Just recently in December I helped him with a new Pleistocene footprint project, the beginning of a vertebrate fauna study project for zone 1 of the Paleocene in Virginia, and with a bony fish update to the Eocene Nanjemoy Formation fauna of Virginia.

 

Marco Sr.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ash

Paleontology is a patience game. Cheers for the update :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
LiamL

Great effort lads!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×