Solite Excavation, Day 5 and Blog 7th Anniversary

Group pic 9-6-2014

After taking a break for the Labor Day weekend, we went back to Solite last Saturday to continue our operation. We had our usual crew of VMNH folks along with 3 graduate students from Virginia Tech. Our excavation time was shortened due to rain in the afternoon, but fortunately we were about to collect some nice and interesting fossils. Continue reading

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Unpacking the Cretaceous and Devonian

SVDM Triceratops 2014 prep status

In January of 2013, the Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, in Winchester, VA, transferred their orphan collection to the VMNH. Within this collection, there is a plethora of critters from the Cretaceous of Montana to the Devonian of Virginia largely thanks to the collecting work of John Happ of Shenandoah University and Geb Bennett of SVDM. At Dino Day 2013, the Triceratops jacket from the transfer was opened. Over the course of 1 1/2 years, volunteers have been working carefully and steadily to prepare the specimen. Continue reading

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Headed west

2014-09-03aAs many of you already know, I’ve decided to leave my position at VMNH to take a new job as Executive Director of the Western Science Center in Hemet, California. Tomorrow morning I start the long drive out west, and will be officially starting my new job in a few weeks. “Updates” will continue to follow the exploits of the VMNH Paleontology Department, but Christina Byrd will be writing the posts from now on (although I may drop in for an occasional guest post from time to time). But I’m not willing to give up blogging altogether, and so I’ve started a new blog, “Valley of the Mastodon“, which will focus on the activities of WSC and the geology and paleontology of California, or whatever else I feel like writing about. So I hope you will all continue to follow “Updates”, but will also join me at “Valley of the Mastodon”!

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Solite excavation, Day 4

2014-08-27aLast Saturday we had nice weather for continuing our salvage operation at the Solite Quarry. We were also fortunate to have a lot of additional Triassic expertise, as we were joined by Sterling Nesbitt and Michelle Stocker from Virginia Tech, and Nick Fraser from the National Museum of Scotland. Continue reading

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In the eye of the beholder

Fly with eyesChristina’s first posts at “Updates” – ACD

Fossil preservation is a tricky mistress. And a particularly deceptive one when it comes to invertebrate fossils. As the paleontology technician at VMNH, I am responsible for digitizing the fossils insects in our collection (made possible by NSF through iDigBio). My primary digitizing focus for the past year has been to photograph the insects from Solite Quarry, of which I have photographed hundreds and counting (check them out at During my time staring at my computer screen, going cross-eyed focusing the images for capture, and contemplating the ID of these insects, I sometimes wonder if my mind is playing tricks on me.  One such day came in June when I thought I saw an eye of a fly preserved. Continue reading

Posted in Invertebrate Paleontology, Newark Supergroup, Solite Quarry | 2 Comments

Solite excavation, Day 3

2014-08-20dTwo weeks ago bad weather prevented us from continuing our National Geographic-funded excavations at the Solite Quarry, but last Saturday we were able to continue with our efforts. As is often the case at Solite, we recovered a number of fossil plants, including the partial cycad frond shown above. Continue reading

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Possible traces on a fossil plant?

possible insect bites DB Poli from Roanoke College and her students Travis Lupmkin and Sarah Petrosky have been closely examining our Carboniferous plant fossils from the Boxley quarry in Beckley, West Virginia, in order to make identifications and to look for any unusual features. Continue reading

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