It was just Tim and me again today, working on trenches around the bones we’ve found so far. The photo above gives an idea of the scale of our operation. Everything collected so for on this trip has come from the area between the green tarp and the wheelbarrow immediately to its right (the silver tarp is 20 feet long). The gray pile of sediment in the foreground is what we’ve hauled out so far.
I thought we were getting close to wrapping things up over the next few days, until we ran into a more bone in the trench around the whale mandible. Specifically, we found a bunch of large fish vertebrae. Can you see them?
This is a remarkable find. While there are tons of fish bones at Carmel Church, associated fish specimens (multiple bones from one individual) are exceptionally rare. In fact, except for a single fish in the Choptank Formation (I’ll discuss that in a future post), this is the most complete fish known from Carmel Church (the next most complete has only two vertebrae). I think this is the posterior end, as the two rightmost vertebrae appear to be just anterior to the tip of the tail. This is also a really big fish; the vertebra on the left is about 8 cm in diameter.
We’ll have to move our trench to accommodate this specimen, which is going to add some time to our excavation. Fortunately, the weather is supposed to stay pretty good over the next few days, although we did dodge a thunderstorm this afternoon: