Mosasaur Dig in Alabama
1987
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 for transport.

Photos scanned from original photographs.


Looking over the limestone outcrop.

Notice the depth of erosion.

Exploring the limestone outcrop.

Me chipping away at the matrix with a knife.

The 'plaster master' at work.

Dave holds the jaw bone of the mosasaur. Ribs lay on top the counter. UNO collection.

Vertebrae with chevrons attached. UNO collection.

Mosasaur jaw bone with teeth, scapula, and vertebrae. UNO collection

Jaw bones, ribs, and vertebrae.

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.

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 below.

The mosasaur was near the top of the outcrop. This outcrop is dated about 69 million years old.

Jaw parts, some with teeth still in them.

One side of jaw with full teeth.

The other side of jaw with full teeth. Notice the tips of erupting replacement teeth.

Another piece of jaw with base of teeth.

Smaller sections of jaw with base of teeth.

Additional jaw pieces.

Mosasaur vertebrae from same fossil as jaw parts.

Another view of same vertebrae as above.

One of the fossil vertebrae from the group.

On the trip with the Scouts we also found a couple of turtle fossils eroding out of the ground.

Turtle scraps stoed in my specmine cabinet drawer.

A few of the turtle scraps.

A mounted mosasaur at a museum in Corpus Christi, Texas

A close up of the head of the mosasaur at Corpus Christi, Texas

Becky's sketch of a mosasaur feeding on squid.

Visit Oceans of Kansas Paleontology to learn more about mosasaurs.

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