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Year of Placerias

May 19, 2014

After a trip of 2080 miles we arrived at our field site near St. Johns, Arizona.  The trip was exciting in itself, with a flat tire and severe storms in Arkansas, and high winds in Oklahoma and Texas. I always enjoy getting back to the high-desert, and seeing the different cactuses and wildlife including jackrabbits, antelopes, prairie dogs, and mule deer.

Photo of Arizona cactus with red flowers.

Arizona cactus in flower.

You never know what you are going to uncover when you begin to dig. Soon after we started, Dick Webb unearthed a number of phytosaur vertebrae; we were off to a good start.  After four years we had not found many bones which could be attributed to Placerias, a cow-sized mammal-like reptile.

Photo of a skeletal restoration of Placerias(right side of animal).  Photo by Paul Brinkman.

A skeletal restoration of Placerias. Photo by Paul Brinkman.

This year seems to be different.  So far we have found several dorsal vertebrae (vertebrae from the back of the animal), a maxillary (a part of the upper jaw), a section of the brain case, an atlas vertebra (the first vertebra behind the skull), and a sacral rib (a rib from the pelvic part of the beast).

Photo of a block showing a Placerias atlas vertebra (upper center) and a Placerias dorsal vertebra (right center).

Block showing a Placerias atlas vertebra (upper center) and a Placerias dorsal vertebra (right center).

Photo of the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences field crew working at the site.

North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences field crew working at the site.

This is looking like a great year.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. John Adams permalink
    May 20, 2014 6:11 pm

    It sounds like things are off to a good start other than the drive out. Please keep us informed of your progress and let us know who is under the funny headgear in the photos.

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