After numerous delays due in large part to illness, Tim and I finally made it back to Carmel Church last night. I’ve had hopes of getting in a short (4-5 day) excavation, but the 4 continuous days of rain in the area made me doubtful that we would be able to get into the site.
As it turned out conditions were not as bad as I had feared, and this morning (with the help of 5 volunteers) we were able to remove the temporary jacket from last summer and begin digging. We’re going to try to remove a single jacket that may include fragments of a baleen whale skull:
We exposed a lot of this material during our last excavation, so now the challenge is to finish the trench around the jacket. Of course, at Carmel Church there’s always another bone in the way. After only about an hour of digging we had exposed a mass of bone running right through the middle of our trench:
The new material is sitting just above the dental pick on the right side of the photo. It appears to be two long bones lying side-by-side. These might be ribs, but if they are they’re big ones. Another possibility is that they could be the radius and ulna from a flipper; if so, we’re already close to the ends of them. A third possibility (but less likely) is that this is a dentary (lower jaw) that has been crushed along its length. We occasionally find them preserved that way, when the mandibular canal that runs along the length of the dentary collapses. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on here – it’s just a possibility.
It’s supposed to be sunny and warm tomorrow, so hopefully we can make a lot of progress.