The Great Geis Paleontological Expedition of 2016

We had a great Christmas at the Geis home. Carolyn made a splendid meal, Mom and I did a lot of dishes, no animals tried to die in Bon Homme County so I didn’t have to leave for an emergency and, best of all, I got this present.

receiving-the-t-rex

Behold the awesomeness.

Yes, that is an actual paleontology kit that has a dinosaur bones inside it. My parents got all of us kids and our spouses one. Yes, we’re all adults, and yes, we jumped up and down like we won the lottery when we all opened them at once. I’d like to thank Menard’s Black Friday sale for this moment.

So the evening of the 26th, Carolyn and I began the great Paleontological Expedition of 2016 in our basement. Our dig site was chosen based upon strong evidence that a fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex might be present beneath the clay,  and because it would allow for easy cleanup.

dig-site

The dig site. The ideal lighting makes this a likely location for some hard-core paleontology.

We began by scouring the site for any clues about where fossils could have been buried. Only a subtle clue was found on the south end of the site.

the-code

We deduced this code was ancient hieroglyphics.

Then we began by digging in the site. The provided mallet and chisel allowed us to whittle away at the tough rock and clay found at the site.

starting-the-dig

Which in no way could be made easier by using bigger tools. Or tools made of metal instead of pine.

After several long, arduous minutes of digging no fossils had been discovered yet. We were flummoxed. Were the fossilized bones so small we were missing them in the clay dust? Did we dig in the wrong location? Did some lazy factory worker forget to put the dinosaur in the dinosaur dig set, thereby delivering false promises that will compromise our trust in humanity forever?

But suddenly, the first fossil appeared!

first-fossil

Woop! There it is!

Slowly materialized a section of lumbar vertebrae. Carefully, I wiped away the dust with the handy provided brush. We removed the section of vertebrae from the bedrock, then began looking for more fossils. As I chipped away a little at a time, a more complete skeleton of the king of the dinosaurs appeared.

more-fossils

I found him one piece at a time, and it didn’t cost me a dime, just an hour of my life chipping through the clay. (#JakeyCash)

I uncovered more and more fossilized dinosaur bones, and as they were freed I laid them in the order in which they were discovered. This is an important step in learning more about this particular dinosaur, which I know because I only watched all the movies on paleontology as a kid.

bones-in-position-they-were-found-in

As you can see, his skull is scattered in three places, his cervical vertebrae lay next to half his pelvis, and his arms were wrapped around the other pelvic half and the coccygeal (tail) vertebrae. It is obvious someone told him to “hold on to your butts” before he met his demise.

The layout of the fossils presented a challenge in determining the cause of death. Were they scattered by a scavenging Troodon that saw an opportunity for an easy meal? Did flowing water push the decayed body parts along a river bed, only to end up in a heap behind a snag? Did a factory worker just dump a smattering of plastic pieces in semi-wet clay on a never-ending assembly line? We may never know.

Whatever the cause for the jumble, I took the time to unjumble and assemble the dinosaur. After a little elbow grease and consultation of the illustration on the front of the box, the Tyrannosaurus Rex stood proud, ready to devour any poor herbivore that stood nearby.

t-rex-skeleton

He is looking upwards, as if to say, “RAWRRRR!!!”, because dinosaurs can’t talk, silly!

-Jake

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