On Saturday, a combination of fundraising field trips to Carmel Church and bad weather kept us off the river. Early Sunday morning we were back on site on the Rappahannock to continue excavating the sperm whale that Jeff Sparks discovered last week. The weather was pretty good throughout the day, although the high tide in the morning did slow us down a little for the first few hours (you can see Jeff’s boat and the water edge in the background) (photos by Tim Dooley):
One additional note for would-be collectors: we were digging at this site with the permission of the landowners. Make sure you respect property rights and don’t tresspass or collect fossils illegally.
By around 1:00 pm we had uncovered both dentaries (the lower jaws), and could begin making plaster jackets. Here is the right dentary, almost ready:
Note the small light brown objects in the wall, just above my arm; those are more teeth. An hour later, the right dentary was jacketed and ready for removal. The left dentary is visible just to the left, and the aluminum foil is covering the additional teeth.
By 4:00 pm the second dentary was jacketed. That’s what’s sitting behind me, while I work on removing additional teeth (some people have questioned whether or not I actually do any work on the trips, as opposed to just ordering volunteers and interns around):
By Sunday evening, we had recovered all the remains, including both dentaries, various possible cranial fragments and unidentified bones, and a large number of isolated teeth, some of which are shown here wrapped and ready to load in the boat:
I’ll be transporting this specimen back to VMNH later this week, and probably moving at least part of it straight into the lab. We should have more photos of prepared teeth and bones over the next several weeks.
A final big thanks to our excavating crew of Jeff Sparks, Jim Patzer, Tim Dooley, and Carter Harrison.