Lets dig up a gator!!

Below: Excavation and salvage

Click here for preparation / Click here to see the skull of this guy finished (its on the table).



Students from ETSU "dig up" a modern 11 foot alligator in Hempstead County, Arkansas in March of 2004. The alligator was found dead by Kelly Irwin (Herpetologist) of the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission. Kelly then buried the specimen to protect it until it could be collected for study. This specimen, along with a second salvaged individual (see below), will become part of the growing osteological (skeletal) collection being assembled to aid researchers at the Gray Fossil Site. (Wendi Shaver = lower right student)


Special thanks are given to Kelly Irwin and his wife Lisa for leading Dr. Wallace, Jerry Nave, and their crew of students on this project.

Thanks also go to Charles & Diane Sharpe for their gracious hospitality. Not only did they provide a tour of Grassy Lake to view live alligators (see below), but they fed the crew a fine meal as well!

Great picture of a live alligator that was spotted during our tour of Grassy Lake in Hempstead County, Arkansas. This specimen was likely 8-10 feet long.


Kelly Irwin standing (proudly) next to the pile of sand containing the buried alligator. Kelly's quick thinking (to bury the specimen), allowed the animal to stay preserved until ETSU crews could recover it.


Initial exposure of the animal. Note that all of the bones are still in anatomical position indicating that the specimen was undisturbed. (picture by Aleta Chandler)

Skull from the buried 11 foot alligator. Note the wonderful preservation of this specimen. The small amounts of skin and tissue that remain will be easily removed. The brush in the lower right corner is 1.5 inches across.

This roughly 10 foot alligator was found dead while viewing live animals. A salvage was attempted and completed two days later. Although quite "meaty" compared to the other specimen, this individual will make a nice addition to the collection once cleaned.

I think that my expression says it all....what a stinky job!! At least the alligators were not feeding yet (still too cold), or they would have been attracted to the smell. Both Jerry Nave and Dawn Coleman are visible behind me. (picture by Aleta Chandler)


Maybe they should have left us on that platform...boy did we stink when we finished dismembering that alligator!

(left to right, Dawn Coleman, Jerry Nave, and Steven Wallace - pictures by Aleta Chandler)

Click here to learn more about living alligators.


(picture by Aleta Chandler)


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This page last updated Oct. 15, 2005 scw