Solite Excavation: Day 14

Chelsea, Kelly, and Devin

On Saturday, our last day of excavation for 2014, we reached the cumulative work time of two weeks. During that time we collected ~53 cubic feet of insect bed and several boxes and crates full of various plants and vertebrates including many fish, Tanytrachelos and 1 or 2 Mecistotrachelos specimens. On the 13th day of excavation, Ray succeeded in collecting all of the insect bed that we had exposed; therefore, our efforts this weekend focused on continuing to remove the overburden from the recently exposed material. Continue reading

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Solite Excavation: Day 13

120361 stacked

While I was out of town this past weekend, the VMNH excavation crew had an excellent day in the pit at Solite Quarry. Led by Ray Vodden, the VMNH crew (Jim, Kal, and Sydney) and a few students from Virginia Tech braved the cold to find some stellar fossils. One such find is a potentially complete specimen of Mecistotrachelos, uncovered by our educator Sydney Brown. Continue reading

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Fossil Fair 2014 at NC Museum of Natural Sciences

Syd sara and me

Saturday, the VMNH paleontology department (Ray and I), the biology technician (Liberty), and two educators (Sara and Sydney) traveled to Raleigh, NC to participate in the 2014 North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences (NCMNS) Fossil Fair.

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Solite Excavation: Day 12

Cleaned pit 11-8-14

Saturday was a double-booked day for me. Therefore, Ray took the crew out to excavate bright and early while I stayed behind to give a tour to a class from Lynchburg College. While the students wandered through the exhibits, I was able to conduct some work with their teacher, who is also a VMNH research associate, Brooke Haiar. In response to our progress two weeks ago with the backhoe, Ray et al. focused on cleaning the debris off the outcrop. Continue reading

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Solite Excavation: Day 11

Group with backhoe 102514

Today’s blog is dedicated to the foreman of the quarry, Scott Traenkner. Scott has been supportive of our excavation since the start and offered his skills should we need them. On day 11 of our excavation, we were able to take Scott up on his offer in a big way. Continue reading

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Solite Excavation: Day 10


Day 10 of our excavation at Solite Quarry was all about Tanytrachelos, a small aquatic reptile from the Triassic. Much of the area we were excavating involved shale within ~2-3 inches from the top of the insect bed. It was within this range that many of the Tanytrachelos specimens were found. We collected at least 12 Tanytrachelos individuals including the one above that Ray Vodden found. Below are a couple other Tanys that we collected. Continue reading

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SeAVP Day 2, Museum Hopping, and National Fossil Day!

Panorama Smith Cty Lime Pit

Day 2 of SeAVP: Field trip day!

Kat Turk, former VMNH intern, and I attended the field trip to Smith County Lime Pit, Sylvarena, MS. This quarry containing 4 Oligocene formations: Marianna, Byram, Glendon, and Bucatunna. The majority of the fossils we found are from the Glendon Formation. Continue reading

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