This has been an interesting excavation so far, in that it seems like we’re not getting a lot of whale bones. In fact, we’re averaging more than two cetacean elements per day, which is pretty good, but they’ve mostly been isolated vertebrae and ribs. However, we’re doing really well with other animals. This morning Drew found one of the more unusual pieces, a fragment of an apparently very large crocodilian scute (a bony armor plate from the back, above). We’ve found a few scutes at Carmel Church in the past, but they’re not common.
We’re still turning up interesting fish and shark elements, too. Keith pulled out this tiny fish vertebra with divergent processes; I don’t know what type of fish it belongs to:
Courtland found several teeth from the ray Aetobatus, including this isolated example…
…and this set of three teeth:
Incidentally, notice those small circular marks on the teeth, especially on the left side? I don’t know what those are. Maybe some type of weird wear feature? Or perhaps a trace fossil from a barnacle or some other invertebrate? I’m open to suggestions.
We are getting some cetacean bones as well. Courtland found this partial rib a couple of days ago, and we removed it today:
Nearby, I found a tiny chevron bone, which is pretty rare at Carmel Church (chevrons are V-shaped bones that articulate with the bottoms of the caudal vertebrae):
I also found a fairly large whale thoracic vertebra on the east side of the pit a few days ago. I uncovered a bit more of it today, and it turns out to be more complete than I initially realized, with the neural arch still intact:
Here’s the marked-up version, with the vertebra outlined in green (a nearby smaller vertebra is also outlined):
We’ve roughly reached our halfway point in the excavation. More to come!