Mosasaur Dig in Alabama

Along Hwy 80 near Selma Alabama can be found outcrops of cretaceous rock forming acers of badlands. It was here, in 1987, that I expierenced my first Paleo dig.

My friend, Kraig Derstler ( Professor of Paleontology at the University of New Orleans) invited me to one of his student's mosasaur excavations. The student, Dave, was working on his Master's thesis and was unearthing a Prognathadon, of the mosasaur family. This was my first paleo dig and they put me right to work armed with nothing more than a pocket knife to chip away at the chalky rock. Half the mosasaur skeleton had already been excavated and brought to the lab at UNO. We were there to retrieve the remaining bones, which included the skull. Here I learned how to locate buried fossils, remove overburden, undercutting the matrix, and plastering for transport.


Dave holds the jaw bone of the mosasaur. Ribs lay on top the counter. UNO collection.
Jaw bones, ribs, and vertebrae. UNO collection
Mosasaur jaw bone with teeth, scapula, and vertebrae. UNO collection
Vertebrae with chevrons attached. UNO collection.
Another view of the outcrop. Notice the depth of erosion.
Me posing next to a mounted mosasaur fossil. This mosasaur was mounted the way it was found.
The ribs may have been shifted due to a current or scavenging.
Becky's sketch of a mosasaur feeding on squid.
An overhead view of the outcropo I that I took a group of Boy Scouts to. Here we found jaw and vertebrae remains. The jaw parts still had teeth in them (see detail photos further below).
On the trip with the Scouts I also found a couple of turtle fossils eroding out of the ground.
A mounted mosasaur at a museum in Corpus Christi, Texas
A close up of the head of the mosasaur at Corpus Christi, Texas
Jaw parts, some with teeth still in them.
This and the following fossils are from my collection
One side of jaw with full teeth.
The other side of jaw with full teeth.
Another piece of jaw with base of teeth.
Smaller sections of jaw with base of teeth.
Mosasaur vertebrae from same fossil as jaw parts.
Another view of same vertebrae as above.
One of the fossil vertebrae from above group.
Another view of the above vertebrae.

Visit Oceans of Kansas Paleontology to learn more about mosasaurs.

Return to Greg's Fossil Page