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An Unusual Australian Pleistocene Prep


Jesuslover340

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Jesuslover340

So we ventured out this last Saturday and had a bit of luck. We chanced upon a poor bit of bone protruding from an unusual deposit and went to uncover more of it to see the extent of which it went into the soil. After a time, it started to look like an upside-down Diprotodontid jaw:

Screenshot_20180618-113543.thumb.jpg.0200393e412696d20165de52b79d0d2d.jpg

 

So we finished up the property and went to get a late lunch; we decided we would come back to put it in a plaster jacket. I later decided it would get too cold and dark for me to be of much help (I can barely yield "Maximus"-our giant pick-and am quite out of my element in the dark), but @Ash and a friend of ours decided to head back around 3:30 p.m. (Brisbane time) to at least get it pedestalled and plastered. They left the jacket to dry during the night after having finished at about 7-7:30. The following morning, Ash and I headed back out with a sturdy garden fork to dig under the jacket and flip it over. I had had the idea of taking a wheelbarrow down to carry it back to the vehicle (which was a ways away because we couldn't drive directly to the site due to the terrain) the night prior, but we had forgotten it, so Ash was dreading carrying it (I'm only about 110 pounds, and this jacket weighed much more than I, so I was not going to be of much help in hauling it back...I resorted to carrying the fork back and paving the easiest trail back to the vehicle for Ash).

Anyways...we did manage to get under it and flip it over, which was a relief. The jacket had worked. Then we both hoped-if it was a jaw indeed-that it had teeth! But our first task was getting it back to the vehicle, so we made many stops along the way until we could leave it at a place we could go get the vehicle and drive back to:

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We got back to the house, rested a bit, and then started on prep. This was a BIG jacket:1529285161977_0548236242_b9e0d3a7.thumb.jpg.c073facd3ee49b7e78bfb0719e590c28.jpg

 

And it would prove to be an unusual prep. We had never come across such a mix of soils. Clay, white rock, charcoal-like clay, and black nodules with orange inside them. Finally, we found...a tooth!

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We grew excited. All the work for the plaster jacket was worth it if the jaw had teeth, and it seemed it did. But as time wore on, our excitement was quelled by the difficulty of determining what was bone...and what wasn't. And what was bone was so soft! And...deformed? We started finding more teeth (a beautiful black-blue), but they weren't arranged appropriately:

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Screenshot_20180618-113620.thumb.jpg.6c67980854c2cdf0a1d23127fcc4ec0c.jpg

 

And as always, so many cracks! But when we started towards the back of the jaw(s), we started to realize things were getting really "wonky"...what were we to make of this? Where was the bone going (obviously not where it should be)?

Screenshot_20180618-113651.thumb.jpg.995ca3b9096c5b47251c808b61e2ad21.jpg

 

After sending a few pics to the QLD Museum curator to see what he thought, we decided to call it a night last night. So far as we can discern (with the help of Scott, the curator), we think it is Diprotodon, but it's unusually small and has odd preservation. Time will tell us more, hopefully, so we'll keep this page updated. Right now we are waiting for it to dry so we can apply paraloid to help stabilize it. We just tried to remove as much clay as possible so that when it does dry, it doesn't crack the fossil further.

Here's a 15 cm ruler for scale where we stopped:

Screenshot_20180618-113703.thumb.jpg.20a6490dfc697d2210ed7e02d6d448d1.jpg

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Magnificent!  I'm eagerly looking forward to further progress! :popcorn:

 

-Joe

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Hoping that there is enough of the front of the jaw remaining that it can join back together.

 

It’ll be a bit smooshed in places but should be a pretty nice specimen for the area.

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You guys find some of the coolest stuff!!!

 

RB

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That is another amazing piece.

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Another awesome find! Good luck helping that wombat see light again!

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Fossildude19

Congratulations on this find!

:fingerscrossed::popcorn:

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Nice report on a nice find guys. Looking forward to seeing the cleaned item. 

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@Jesuslover340  it just dawned on me that the bones your digging seem to be buried in common everyday ole top soil.   May I ask how these fossils got buried and fossilized?

 

RB

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Jesuslover340
48 minutes ago, RJB said:

@Jesuslover340  it just dawned on me that the bones your digging seem to be buried in common everyday ole top soil.   May I ask how these fossils got buried and fossilized?

 

RB

Well, you wouldn't be wrong. I suppose the fossilization process is all the same...but the reason so many fossils in Aus are found in top soil is because of the properties of a specific top soil called "blacksoil". It's great for farming and finding fossils, but dreadful to get bogged down in. Horrible for houses, too. "Blacksoil" is kind of like a mix between clay and regular (but rich) soil. When it rains, it expands. When it dries, it cracks-deep. Water penetrates these cracks during the next rain. Between this action and the absorption action, you kind of get a natural soil rotation-that brings up fossils from deeper layers.

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Jesuslover340

And thanks everyone! It should be dry enough soon to continue prep :)

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Jesuslover340

Took a bit more matrix off today and cleaned up around the teeth. Then we applied a bit of paraloid and wrapped it up until next time. We're at that stage where more minute work is needed and it will be slow-going from here on out. At the moment, it looks like it might not be Diprotodon ;) :

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Strange looking teeth on that critter!

:popcorn::popcorn:

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Heya Tony,

 

I like the colour of them. 

 

We’re at a bit of a pause, the 2 bits that extend to the edge of the jacket are both mashes of bone and we’re unsure how to best go about dealing with them. The other topic at hand is the front end - at present, as you can see, they’re twisted from proper alignment. But is there enough bone there to reconnect them properly? If we go back to the first post when they are still in the ground then you can see there may be no bone between them.. so the thing is - glue them how they are positioned or seperate them and hope for the best but risk ending up with 2 seperate pieces?

 

Cheers,

Troy

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Ptychodus04

@Ash and @Jesuslover340, you two find some of the coolest stuff. Australia has some real oddities (extant and extinct). I’m jealous.

 

Working with Pleistocene material can be extremely taxing. In a few million years, the soil will be lithified, and the bones fully mineralized but right now, you get the benefit of neither scenario! You two are a good example of the patience required to prep this material. 

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Heya @Ptychodus04,

 

Not wrong there - that Pliocene stuff is hard! I’m still planning on sending you some, haven’t forgotten!

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Ptychodus04
59 minutes ago, Ash said:

Heya @Ptychodus04,

 

Not wrong there - that Pliocene stuff is hard! I’m still planning on sending you some, haven’t forgotten!

 

No worries. I'm almost literally digging out from under a pile of prep work right now anyways and it looks like I may be getting a partial phytosaur to prep, restore, and mount in late summer.

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Another phytosaur!? You’ve no idea how much I love phytos! Especially with the skull shape of the last one you did.

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Macrophyseter

It's surprising how many good fossils can easily be found in Australia by virtually anyone brave enough to venture out, considering that a huge portion of the country is undeveloped and uncivilized, that leaves plenty of space to dig the bones. 

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Ptychodus04
1 hour ago, Ash said:

Another phytosaur!? You’ve no idea how much I love phytos! Especially with the skull shape of the last one you did.

 

This one should be really cool. There appears to be the majority of the skull with a fair amount of post cranial material well preserved. 

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I’ll bust out some popcorn!

 

We’ll be finishing this up Saturday hopefully - if all goes well!

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Ptychodus04
On 6/28/2018 at 3:19 AM, Ash said:

I’ll bust out some popcorn!

 

We’ll be finishing this up Saturday hopefully - if all goes well!

It's Saturday for you now, what's taking so long? :P

 

I need something to take my mind off my honey do list. I finished my 3 day fence rebuild today and I already have more tasks assigned! I'm going to insist on some prep time this weekend or I'm filing a formal complaint. :D

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Took  a fair bit outta the middle, ya happy? :P

E97BE4B6-AC29-4E64-A3AA-FC2C1D5B2500.png

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