Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Ni Hao! We just hit the halfway mark of our time in China! The past few days have been spent in the Tiantai Basin, about two hours away from our “home base” of Hangzhou, where the Zhejiang Museum is located. Today was our fifth day of fieldwork, and the third site visited looking for dinosaur eggs, bones, trace fossils, and measuring sections of strata.

Anital Moore-Nall and Ian Underwood. (Photo by Christian Heck.)

Eggs found on previous trips were photographed and documented, and some fragments were collected for later analysis. Lots of GPS location numbers were recorded so future teams could return to the good spots we have found so far.

Our days have been beginning at around 7:30 a.m. (which is 5:30 p.m. the previous day Montana time), giving us enough time to Skype friends and family, eat breakfast, and board the van that transports us to our field sites. We spend the morning starting strata section measurements and prospecting until lunch around 11:30 a.m.

Taking strata section measurements and prospecting. (Photo by Christian Heck.)

We’ve been eating at “fast food” places where we’re given metal trays and get to pick out from a street vendor different dishes of potatoes, vegetables, rice, and tofu to eat in a tiny hole-in-the-wall dining area. Around 12:30 p.m.  or so we head back to the field, refill our water bottles at the van, and spend the rest of the day tromping through crazy bushes looking for bones and eggshell.

Looking for bones and eggshell. (Photo by Christian Heck.)

By the end of the day we’re very hungry and sweaty, and usually don’t have much time to change before our 6 p.m. dinner, which we devour before passing out in our rock-hard beds.

Almost everyone has found something so far during our time in the field. Danny found isolated fragments the first day in “Graveyard Hills,”

Taking a close look in the “Graveyard Hills.” (Photo by Christian Heck.)

the first site we visited in the Tiantai Basin, and on the second day both he and Heather each found two more eggs! Anita was the first person to find bone on our trip, so that was exciting for everyone. Paul and Michael have found lots of trace fossils, like pupa cases, worm burrows, or root systems, which provide us with valuable information about the paleo-environment. I (Hannah) found some more bone fragments yesterday along with Wenjie, one of our Chinese colleagues from the museum, and today Christian found a big chunk of eggshell on the roadcut we were working on “behind the beer factory,” just a few minutes down the road from our hotel. The others have made huge contributions by putting those finds in context with their strata section measurements.

We found a big chunk of eggshell on the roadcut we were working on “behind the beer factory,” just a few minutes down the road from our hotel. (Photo by Christian Heck.)

The weather has been great – it rained for most of the first day in the field (Saturday), and a bit more today, but other than that we all have the sunburns to prove the weather’s been very nice. We leave Tiantai Basin tomorrow to explore another rich site of eggs – Dongyong Basin, which is a two-hour drive away. We’re very excited about visiting these two locations on our trip because most of the eggs we’ve been ogling in the basement of the Zhejiang Museum the past few weeks have come from Tiantai and Dongyang, and it is very neat to view them in their original field context rather than in plastic tubs in the dark collections room of the museum.

Blog post by Hannah Wilson. 

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