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Digging in the Desert

May 13, 2013

The Department of Paleontology at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences has made it out to the desert to dig up some dinosaurs (among other creatures)!

Placerias Quarry (Apache County, Arizona)

Placerias Quarry (Apache County, Arizona).
Courtesy of the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

Vince Schneider, the Museum’s Curator of Paleontology, and two of our loyal volunteers made the cross-country journey from Raleigh, North Carolina to Springerville, Arizona. They covered 2,100 miles in 32 hours on about 5 hours of sleep in an old, but reliable, van packed down with the necessary gear for our two-week dig in the desert. I, on the other hand, took the easy way out and caught a flight into Phoenix, where I met up with another one of our wonderful volunteers before undertaking the beautiful 4-hour-drive to Springerville.

Placerias Quarry (Apache County, Arizona)

Placerias Quarry (Apache County, Arizona).
Courtesy of the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

Over the next two weeks, our team will be working a site known as the Placerias Quarry. This quarry is a bone bed; an area that has become the final resting place for numerous fossils from the Triassic period. This site, located some miles from the small and charming town of Springerville, Arizona is not, however, a new paleontological scene. In fact, the Placerias Quarry has been a center of activity since the early 1900s. Featured are some early photographs of the dig site decades ago (Courtesy of the University of California Museum of Paleontology).

Placerias Quarry. Courtesy of the University of California Museum of Paleontology

Placerias Quarry (Apache County, Arizona).
Courtesy of the University of California Museum of Paleontology.

Although we will not be making use of horse and plow, we will be using many of the same techniques that have worked for paleontologists across the world for the past few centuries. With a pick in hand and a patient attitude, we look for long-lost treasures of our past. Please stay tuned to our Arizona adventures as I promise more pictures and posts to come!

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