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Want to dig up a Mosasaur?

    I spent five weeks during the summer of 1996 helping excavate the beautiful specimen pictured below. The fossil was originally discovered by Jeff McCoy (of Russell, Kansas) in Gove County, Kansas during a State 4-H geology field trip that Jeff and his family were leading. Jeff sought help from the Sternberg Museum of Natural History, in Hays, Kansas (where I was a volunteer at the time). I was sent out to investigate the site and ended up spending most of the summer helping with the excavation. I am very thankful to Jeff and his family (wife, Georgie and daughter, Megan) for their willingness to let me help and their generous hospitality. Both my wife and I have become very good friends with the McCoy family, and remain in contact with them.

    This picture was taken shortly after I began to help with the excavation. The hammer is a standard masonry hammer that was included for scale. Note the "paddle" (specialized manus) on the right hand side of the picture. The pectoral girdle is clearly visible along with the humerus, radius, and ulna. Although the vertebrae are visible, the containing rock has yet to be removed.
    Hard at work in this picture, you can see Jeff McCoy (lower right), Megan McCoy (lower left), and myself (upper left). Not all of the work was delicate, and in this picture you can see the removal of overburden with picks and shovels.
    Once the overburden was removed, work was done with dental picks so the chalk could be removed without damaging the fossil. This picture includes Jeff (left), Georgie (middle), and Megan (right) McCoy. Note the change in the color of the chalk when freshly exposed.
    Here is Jeff "breaking his back" over this fossil. Note the hole that has been created to remove this fossil. Not all fossils come out of the ground like those of "Jurassic Park".
    I sure had a tan that summer. Note the teeth visible in both the dentary and maxillary.
    You can clearly see a "paddle" at the top of this picture. The next picture is a close up of this image. 
    Note that both pterygoids are visible in this picture (small bones on the roof of the mouth that were lined with teeth).

Tylosaurus proriger

This page last updated October 8, 2001 scw

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