The Great Phytosaur Femur Recovery

After my Phytosaur femur assembly (see three blogs back), I could not assemble the proximal and distal heads of this particular bone which demanded a field trip back to the site.

I can’t be too specific where this is, but one can get very lost in country like this.

My paleontology mentor is Indiana Chuck–do you think Hollywood would be interested–and here he studies a jacket of plaster moulded over some bone fragments to preserve their relationship.  Water is precious there and has to be carried in to mix the plaster.

Once the plaster sets, the jacket is flipped over in larger cases a lid is plastered into placer–a full jacket.  We fill in our divots.  While the plaster is setting, I take a 1/4 mile hike around looking for more bone fragments.

I’m now on the next summit–do not go into these hills alone.  I wonder if Forrest Fenn’s treasure lies anywhere near here?

This our treasure–bone fragments and we scramble around looking for that missing Phytosaur femur…..and find what we think is the right piece.  Indiana Chuck is a great teacher–I should have stayed in geology.  My last coursework was in the late 60s and much has changed since then; not the geology itself, but the knowledge base….and computers.

The scenery around us.

The hard debris tumbles downhill in clumps;  here 220 million year old logs

The larger pieces create their own pedestals.   This is a popular hiking trail just below the Desert View Museum at the north end of the park–one of my favorite NPS park buildings (see previous blog).

The second museum is located at the southern end of Petrified Forest National Park–and focuses on paleontology.  Here a CCC diorama–one of the very few left in the NPS system–depicts two Phytosaurs fighting to the death–an actual dual discovered by paleontologist Jim Camp back in the ’30s.  The Phytosaur’s were anything but plant eaters–check out this jaw:

This is both halves……

And relative size to my hat……

A Phytosaur skull still in it’s field jacket.

To finish up with my earlier blog, I drove out the south entrance and found the site where they were mining logs–these people are serious and only a few feet from the park boundary.  This, folks, is why we have national parks.

Some local color.  Very little decays in the northern Arizona sun, including dinosaur bones.  (Recall the Phytosaurs, Metoposaurs and Aetosaurs are not real dinosaurs, but their precursors.).   Oh, below is the last piece of bone glued in place….and now we know the length of this femur (it is inverted from the earlier blog photograph).

Stay tuned!

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