It seems to be a paleontological rule that interesting bones will start showing up just before the end of an excavation. I’m at the point in this trip where I need to start planning the end of the excavation, so we don’t leave too many exposed bones in the ground (the bones rapidly deteriorate if we expose them without removing them). But today we uncovered several new bones that are going to slow us down.
Courtland has been working to clear the last foot or so of accessible bonebed in the back of the pit (we can’t go further to the north without removing a major amount of sediment). This morning he exposed the small patch shown above, and shown marked up below:
There are two bones outlined in the image. In red is a rare odontocete scapula (shoulder blade). Scapulae this size are only a few millimeters thick, and they don’t often survive. Afraid this one wouldn’t stand up to jacketing, I went ahead and removed it:
It’s only around 50% complete, maybe less, but even that is unusual for an odontocete scapula from Carmel Church.
The bone outlined in blue is also unusual. I still need to see more, but I’m pretty sure this is the back of the skull from a small whale. Specifically, I believe it’s the left exoccipital and occipital condyle, preserved upside down (the typical orientation for our skulls). We’re now clearing the area around this bone to confirm the identification and see if any more of the skull is present.
Storms drove us from the outcrop in the early afternoon, so I didn’t get a chance to take many pictures of the area around the large whale vertebra, which is producing lots of small bones, nor the west side of the pit where the Xiphiacetus dentary was collected yesterday. But we’re still finding material in both those areas.