Today we were joined by volunteers Mike and Josh, and with the extra hands things progressed quickly. I’m actually almost a full day ahead of where I expected to be at this point, and if all goes well we may finish this excavation tomorrow afternoon.
At Carmel Church we always seem to have a large number of bones in the trenches around our jackets, and these have to be removed before we start making plaster. Some of the bones we took out today are the two vertebrae in the image above. Even though these are sitting side-by-side in the ground, they don’t appear to come from the same whale; the one on the left is quite a bit smaller and not as well preserved.
Another bone the Mike pulled out of the back trench is this small neural plate from the sea turtle Syllomus (the neurals are the plates that run right down the middle of the shell, and are attached to the tops of the vertebrae):
There are at least 14 bones visible in this jacket (sorry, I didn’t have a chance to mark this one up). Nearly all the bones are either ribs spread out above and to the left of the scale bar) and vertebrae (along the top and top right sides of the jacket). I’m particularly worried about one vertebra (the oval object at very top, just left of center). This is right on the edge of the jacket, and is likely to break when we flip the jacket. If so, we’ll have to collect the pieces and try to repair it. We would have to remove several tons of additional sediment to remove it cleanly, likely exposing dozens of additional bones to weathering in the process.
Tomorrow morning we plan to undercut this block and make a top jacket. If the plaster sets well (it’s supposed to be a little cool tomorrow) we’ll flip it and do the bottom jacket in the afternoon.