Breaking out the power tools ( Post for July 6th).



The morning was cool and refreshing as our team, now six in total, sat for breakfast and reviewed the day’s objectives. We decided we would focus efforts on excavating the Globidens fossil.

We headed to the site prepared to move a lot of rock. We would use power tools to remove a wall of rock behind the mosasaur blocks to make room to work, and also to remove more rock overlying the bones. Most of the time, preparing fossils for study is a meticulous process and sediments are removed from bones in the lab with small, specialized hand tools such as airscribes (miniature pneumatic hammers) or dental tools. But the field is a different story! Since our objective is to safely remove fossils on a short timeline, we sometimes rely on electric powered jackhammers to remove a large volume of the overlying rocks, and today was just that day. Everyone took a turn with the rotary hammer bringing down higher ledges of rock in order to work at the layer that contained the mosasaur bones. Once we got close to the bones, we switched to hammers and chisels and other hand tools to approach bones more cautiously. And so, the site starts to reveal its secrets, bone by bone. As we worked to isolate bones that we were already aware of, new bones started to be exposed. One great discovery was a series of vertebrae from the end of the tail on one side of the accumulation, and vertebrae from the base of the tail on the other side. There’s still a lot of rock to remove, so we’re hoping the middle part of the tail is represented as well!!!

Miguel removing overburden with the rotohammer


Of course, you need to stretch your legs periodically, so members would occasionally take short prospecting walks, locating more mosasaur, plesiosaur, and turtle fossils. Besides, the richly fossiliferous Cretaceous beds, there are also younger sediments, possibly Pleistocene in age. Those are the rocks that one of our team found mammal teeth and bones and fragments of ostrich shells. A great find indeed!!!

Mike at the Globidens Quarry.

Of course, you need to stretch your legs periodically, so members would occasionally take short prospecting walks, locating more mosasaur, plesiosaur, and turtle fossils. Besides, the richly fossiliferous Cretaceous beds, there are also younger sediments, possibly Pleistocene in age. Those are the rocks that one of our team found mammal teeth and bones and fragments of ostrich shells. A great find indeed!!!

Our visitors: Pedro Vaz Pinto with snake stick in center, his son Afonso is to the left of Alex, holding a File Snake, Spanish herpetologist and photographer Javier Lobon Rovira is between Alex and Pedro, Geoveth is in the red hat, Louis and Mike are the bookends.
Alex, Afonso, Geoveth, and Mike in the Globidens Quarry.

In the afternoon, we had a visit from Pedro Vaz Pinto, a very well-respected biologist and conservationist in Angola, probably best known for his efforts to save the endangered Giant Sable Antelope, the national symbol of Angola.  He was conducting a biodiversity survey with his son, Afonso, and Javier Lobon Rovira, a Spanish herpetologist and natural history photographer.  Some of his photos are shown below.

Alex, Geoveth, Afonso, Mike, Pedro, and Louis at the Globidens Quarry.
A colorful skink on pink granite.
A Horned Adder (Bitis caudalis)
A File Snake (Limaformosa sp.), characterized by rough and well-spaced scales, strongly triangular body, and lavender skin.
And just to show another snake, this one photographed by one of our group, is the beautiful Angolan Coral Snake (aka Cowles’ Shield Cobra, Aspidelaps lubricus cowlesi).

Tomorrow, we will continue work on the Globidens dig and of course, prospecting Bentiaba for more amazing finds.

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