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Dinosaur Horns Assortment

Dinosaur Horns Assortment
Dinosaur Horns Assortment

Dinosaur Horns Assortment

These are nose horns from various Triceratops with perhaps a dermal scute from Ankylosaur in the front row that looks like Apollo 11 re-entry capsule.

Each horn has it’s story regarding how I found it, the “Eureka” moment, the rush of adrenaline. I have only prepped the rear one. As they were found, the remaining stay. Restoration occurred on the BIG horn in the rear. It was in 80 separate pieces when I found it.. Restored to “pretty cool” condition. I’ll post it later. The best one is the smallest on up front row. It’s an amazing fossil.

Paleontological Musings:

Triceratops horns are like cattle horns in that they take on many different shapes even within the same group. These are all from the same bone bed I call “Horn Sieve Beds” as they have given up over 30 of them to me.

Hell Creek/Lance Formations are the Cretaceous River Sands/muds is where the last of the dinosaurs hung out. Both formations cover our ranch. We span the MT/WY state line. There the Formations change names formally. Same rocks, different name.🤣

I got my masters degree around most things Paleo-Environmental……. I might have been one of the first Pale-environmentalist ever minted lolol. There is another that will read this I graduated with. Hi Dave!

So, paleo-topography when this dinosaur roamed was a broad equatorial coastal plain sloping like the piedmont of North Carolina east facing toward the then interior sea way stretching from the current Gulf of Mexico across the continent to Canada.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Dinosaur Horns Assortment

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Dinosaur Killing Asteroid Incoming

Dinosaur Killing Asteroid Incoming
Dinosaur Killing Asteroid Incoming

Dinosaur Killing Asteroid Incoming

(SATIRE). Did I mention this is satire?

I purchased a “Way Back Machine” on e-bay supposedly from the late 1950’s cartoon show Peabody’s Improbable History . It is a time travel device that Mr Peapody (the smartest dog on the planet), used to travel around in history. He used it like a space ship to go places. Well I figured since I had a chance at one on the auction, I might as well try. What do you know but I got it.

Now what does a geologist/photographer do with a time travel machine. Well I used the Way Back Machine to zip back to the seconds before a meteor (Bolide) Crashed into the earth, killing the dinosaurs, and many other animal groups on the planet. Huge upheavals in food chains ensued. Major extinctions do that of course and here we are. Our ancestors survived the conflagration.

I left before it hit of course. I did not want to be in the way of the blast wave. Don’t discount the pizza oven effect from the ejecta reentering the atmosphere. Massive tsunami’s hit further south. I’m sure this area got cooked. Later a blast wave plough through at the speed of sound. Anything that wasn’t under water, in a burrow or somehow hidden was killed outright on this hemisphere. The climate changed markedly and initiated a failure of major populations of animals to successfully reproduce. Ultimately it’s the inability to reproduce that causes extinction. No matter what the cause.

Disclaimer, this is a real un-molested photo. Where I got it MIGHT be a story 😜👀⚒

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Dinosaur Killing Asteroid Incoming

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T-rex Tooth in the Rough

T-rex Tooth in the Rough
T-rex Tooth in the Rough

T-rex Tooth in the Rough

Yup, a Tyrannosaurus tooth sitting in the matrix. Wrapping it up for the trip back to the ranch headquarters is the next order of business. There it will be cleaned at my leisure when I get a pile of such things to clean so it’s worth setting up the micro-air-abrasive fossil cleaning cabinet. The black enamel of the tooth is etch by tiny rootlets that covered the surface. The chemical reactions at the rootlets deeply marked the enamel of the tooth.

Fossil Teeth: Selective preservation…

Teeth were “plentiful with many per dinosaur. They often broke off, the new ones erupting from below. Shed teeth were called spitters.They were literally spit out or lost eating. Some teeth passed through the digestive system. Quaintly named (sh**ers) by collectors. I’ve been told by older and more experienced paleontologists the way you tell the difference is their taste…… 😜

Here pictured next to the 6 inch wood awl that I used to dig it out of the Hell Creek/Lance Formation quarry wall. I have a 50 foot long by 4 feet thick in the center, river channel filled with mixed debris. This debris was dropped by the river for a reason. The current velocity dropped enough to leave what it carried here, behind. The bigger/heavier things came out first so we find a lot of big bones. The little things concentrated somewhere else with a lower current velocity.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: T-rex Tooth in the Rough

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Dinosaur by Frank Bliss

Dinosaur by Frank Bliss
Dinosaur by Frank Bliss

Dinosaur by Frank Bliss

I only get 4 words for a title in the software I use to compose these narratives. This title is much better/shorter than “Underside of Unknown Dinosaur’s Skull showing the Foramen Magnum”. That hole on the right side of the skulls bottom is the opening into the brain case. That is the size of the nerve cord of the neck of this creature. OK, it’s not the whole dinosaur, just a partial skull lol. Alternative title: 2 Boneheads…

The Cretaceous Hell Creek Sandstones that blanket our ranch has a host of different fossils that are coaxed out of the rock under my gentle tool work. I use a wood awl and some paint brushes most of the time to do this kind of recovery. The sandstone is not terribly hard /”indurated” ( your google word). It generally crumbles under the pick leaving the bone unsupported. It’s a good thing superglue is available by the pint. We use thinned super-glues liberally to soak into the bone and stabilize it.

I’ve shown this skull bottom to several full time dinosaur people and they have no idea either. Everybody knows them from the face/top, not from underneath the skull lolol. I would have to show this to a technician that has happened to do work on this particular animal to key/ID this. More than that I’m not willing to say. Someone whispered T-rex but I’m not a believer. It doesn’t remind me of raptor bone which is usually quite “spongy” with large vacuoles in the bone marrow. I’m not seeing it here. It’s not bird like that I can see. Someone out there may know??

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana).

Title: Dinosaur by Frank Bliss

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Triceratops Dinosaur Rib Excavation

Triceratops Dinosaur Rib Excavation
Triceratops Dinosaur Rib Excavation

Triceratops Dinosaur Rib Excavation (Tough Long Read)

There might be a few words to google here. My apologies ⚒⚒⚒. Geology has it’s nomenclatural requirements. To put all this in the big picture is the tough part.

Our Ranch by coincidence 🤔 is located upon a 700 feet thickness of Sandstone. It has exposures of the famous Hell Creek/Lance Formation (Cretaceous Period) The Uppermost Cretaceous was a period of life on a coastal plain similar topographically to the piedmont of North Carolina. Locally the climate was pretty lush, warm and wet. Meandering Huge Rivers choked with Sand / silt worn off the rapidly eroding mountains to the (current) west. The land lay of different orientation that currently.

North America appears to have been rotated 90 degrees west of how it’s positioned currently. Located around the equator with plate tectonics moving/rotating the continent to it’s current position over the intervening 66 million years. T-rex, Triceratops, Duckbills, ankylosaurs, all those dinosaurs kids know the names of lived here. Here one died…

This is higher up rock section toward the top of the Hell Creek formation not long before the massive “Bolide” (google this) struck the earth. Chicxulub Mexico sits on that big impact area. punctuated the extinction process already underway at the end of the Cretaceous. Big 80 percent of all species Extinction events. Extinction ultimately is initiated by a populations inability to reproduce .

There was a pizza oven effect from the radiant heat from all that Bolide ejecta re-entering the atmosphere. That effect didn’t help anything that wasn’t underground or in the water (mammals) as 20 percent of species survived this age. There is a discussion that dinosaur and other groups were waining in density/diversity near the actual time of the Bolide ended the age of Dinosaurs. Dinosaurs as a group died off but avian dinosaurs did not. (Birds are dinosaurs more or less just short tail and teeth). Eventually the environmental effects killed off the food web in the ocean too. Bad time on the planet for most.

SO:

This sediment is called Bentonite. Wyoming sells LOTS of Bentonite. Cooking it turns it white. Lots of industrial uses. Dave Love (a famous Wyoming Geologist) famously wrote/said: “Wyoming is a wonderful State, we can sell our dirt”. 🤘👀⚒ Bentonite is a clay rich volcanic ash as this is a lake deposit. This rib belonged to an animal that floated into a body of water. Spreading of this carcass did occur and one rib bone excavated was vertical as someone stepped on it and pushed it into the mud on edge. I found a raptor tooth mixed in the mud with this 20 percent Triceratops carcass. (It was Dromeosaur richardoestesia )

Above the Triceratops rib is it’s upside down fragment of pelvis. Another rib hides in the upper right corner of the frame. This was one of the smaller ribs collected on a smaller Tric. The little bottles are full of thin superglue which we consume by the pint. We have the tip off the end of it …. A rib like this will come out in 30 pieces and reassembled back at the ranch headquarters.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Triceratops Dinosaur Rib Excavation

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Triceratops Horn and Frank Bliss

Triceratops Horn and Frank Bliss
Triceratops Horn and Frank Bliss

Triceratops Horn and Frank Bliss

Happy New Years Day. I don’t take many Selfies. Maybe 5 or 6 a year. I just thought I’d be a scale for this brow horn from a rather large Triceratops horridus. Triceratops is the Wyoming State fossil but I bet a few more have been found in Montana. This one was pretty much right on the border give or take a few hundred feet.

Obviously the horn is missing the tip with was either “broomed” prior to the animals death or damaged during river transport. The Hell Creek/Lance formation covers our ranch entirely. Unfortunately for the fossil collector in me, most of that is covered by grass. The initial discovery fossil from the site this horn came from was literally sitting in the grass. Located on a shallow hillside, this site has given me over 30 Triceratops Horns, dozens of teeth, toes, claws, spines, scutes and other wise a pile of pretty well preserved dinosaurian bones.

Take my work on this being a horn, somebody out there will think it’s a limb bone missing the condyle end. Nope. It’s a horn. I’ve collected over a dozen just like it. It’s the 3-D nature of the fossil that gives it away. Horns have very characteristic surfaces and this one has veinous grooves with the proper interior of a horn. Shape is Seldom the defining characteristic of a fossil. There are many rocks that look like fossils (pseudofossils) but aren’t. This is a 66 million year old horn from a big Tric. I also have over a dozen nose horns. Thus naming my bone quarry the “Horn Sieve Site”.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Triceratops Horn and Frank Bliss

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Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes

Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes
Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes

Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes

Kinda looks like just rocks don’t they? “Leaverites” Knowledge is power I point out.

Dinosaurs often had chunks of bone growing on their skin to act as armor. “Osteoderms” are commonly known as Scutes. Many creatures have them. Crocs and Alligators come to mind. Skin surrounded these bony armor chunks They fit tightly in a network of armor to protect the turtle shaped dinosaur with the clubbed /spiked tail from bites. These are remarkably rare. I’ve found these three in 20 years. I’ve found way more T-rex teeth for example and they aren’t exactly growing on trees up here lolol. Ankylosaurs were 20 feet long and 5 foot high at the hips.

Out of curiousity I looked up some pricing on similar items on the commercial market (I have NEVER sold and never will sell a fossil). The smaller one would be in the 500 dollar range and the larger in the 1000 dollar range. I knew they were uncommon but I didn’t know there was a demand for them. Ankylosarids are rare in the upper Cretaceous. Again, they are NOT for sale. They are in the ranch collection of over 10K fossils at this point.

Disclaimer: The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch is 99 percent private land. Deeded ground is the only place it is illegal to collect ANY vertebrate material (if it had a backbone, leave it alone) on public land. BLM, state and Tribal land is off limits. See a turtle shell, leave it lay. On government ground, artifacts from humans are also best left alone. They can definitely get you in big trouble. Invertebrate fossils and wood are a different story. I suggest the Bureau of Land Managements website for further information.

Our ranch is completely covered by the Cretaceous Hell Creek/Lance Formation. Problem is, there is a lot of grass here too lolol.

Location: Cretaceous Hell Creek Lance Formation, Horn Sieve Bed, Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands Coll: Frank Bliss
Title:Cretaceous Ankylosaurus Armor/ Scutes

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Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations
Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

This is a view of a nice tooth on it’s inside concave edge showing clearly the serrations on the edge of the raptor tooth. The serrations weren’t used so much to cut meat but to hold onto meat bitten into. Thusly “ripping” muscle with the neck muscles and the teeth holding on. Rough way to catch fast food. This 66 million year old or so chomper in the mouth of a 8 foot high dinosaur that resembled a bird with teeth and a tail. Most of the rest of the bone structure are very similar to modern birds. The lighter lines on the darker enamel is where capillary roots have chemically etched the tooth’s enamel. This was found close enough to the surface for root action to effect the surface. Another possible explanation is stomach acid has etched the surface of the tooth.

I really enjoy finding nice dinosaur teeth here in the Cretaceous Hell Creek Sands that blanket this ranch. OF the 5 square miles of land we own, MAYBE one acre has fossils on it and there are 25 places that add up to that acre. We do have one bone bed for larger material but this came out of a sandy pit I dug by hand. I find “microsites” sticking in the exposed hillsides that are indeed fossilferous.

Anything that was alive with “hard parts” at the time in the dinosaurs environment is also possible to find. The rivers current sorted fossils by shape weight and size. Thusly concentrating fossils in one spot where the river dropped them. Microsites usually mean small teeth but this honker is an inch and a half long. The glass is 3/16 plate (blue line). That is a glass shelf in my lit display case.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands (Wyotana)

Title: Dinosaur Dromaeosaur Tooth Serrations

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Pachycephalosaur Phalange: Hoof/Toe

Pachycephalosaur Phalange: Hoof/Toe
Pachycephalosaur Phalange: Hoof/Toe

Dinosaur: Pachycephalosaur Phalange… Hoof/Toe (Real Big Wyoming Critters lolol).

I have read that Pachycephalosaur fossils of any kind constitute only about 1 percent of the fossil record. This toe nail’s journey started 66 million years ago in a sand choked river flowing to the eastern sea. The Hell Creek/Lance Formations (uppermost Cretaceous) is a terrestrial deposit consisting of 700 feet of sand. We have the upper 3 or 4 hundred feet of the formation exposed on our ranch. Of course we are a grassy ranch so somewhere under that grass is a REALLY NICE fossil but I can’t see it. I might have driven over the complete t-rex a hundred times and would have no idea. 

I have found 25 micro-sites…sand deposits of coarsely sorted sands mixed with small fossils. Many teeth, small bones, fragments of almost anything alive in the environment besides dinosaurs.. Even occasional really nice claws come out of the micro-sites. 1 amazing bone bed exists on my ranch that I’ve located. I have mined that location for 17 years now. I call it the “Horn Sieve bed because of the 30 (ish) triceratops horns that have come out of the dig over the years. The dense bone and hydrodynamic shape combined for more of those to drop out of the rivers current at my particular “bend in the river”. The current dropped here and dropped all that dense bone on the river bed. The light stuff kept on going down river. 

Most Hell Creek Bone that I’ve collected has been transported by river systems. Often soon to be fossils were buried and re-excavated several times as the big rivers swept back and forth on the alluvial plain. Lots to know about dinosaur and paleoenvironment lolo. 

Title: Pachycephalosaur Phalange: Hoof/Toe

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Fossil Leaf UV Light

Fossil Leaf UV Light
Fossil Leaf UV Light

Fossil Leaf UV Light

I found this fossil leaf (Poplar??) about 8 miles north of Dubois Wyoming in the TeePee Trail Shale Formation. (Paleogene 65-22 mya). After researching the literature for a likely location for an outcrop, went out exploring. It didn’t take me long to find an outcrop of the shale which can be split with hammers easily. After a few hours of splitting shale, this and many other fossils came out. For a scale, the photo covers an area about 5 inches across/high.

I used high intensity UV light as the only light source here to bring out subtle details in the veins of the leaves. I look at pretty much everything under UV as you just never know what it’s going to do. Here it brought out details you just can’t see in white light. This UV light is so bright, I have to wear special sunglasses to use it. It’s a good way to sunburn your retinas if you don’t do this right lolol.

There is no law against collecting plant fossils on BLM or state land so have at it folks. I think there is some limitations on using heavy equipment though lol. Only shovels, picks and hand tools. See the BLM website for details if you plan on collecting anything from federal or state property. Private property only has rules the land owner imposes. Land owners own the fossils unless you have specific OK to take them and preferably in writing.

Location: currently residing at: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Fossil Leaf UV Light

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Chicken From Hell Tooth

Chicken From Hell Tooth
Chicken From Hell Tooth

OK, it’s not a Chicken from Hell tooth, it’s a Paronychodon sp. (Larson 2008) tooth from the Hell Creek/Lance formation. From my “backyard” The scale is in inches.

Paronychodon besides being rediculous to spell, is relatively hard to find fossil dinosaur tooth. You’ve heard as “Rare as Hensteeth” before? Payonychodon was an Avian Dinosaur…a bird with teeth, claws and a tail with feathers covering it’s body. Sort of a big turkey with inch long teeth/tail. I’m thinking they wouldn’t be a good addition to the modern turkey. Anyone that hasn’t seen human habituated turkeys interacting with UPS drivers (for instance) doesn’t have access to youtube lolol. Some wonderful videos are out there with turkeys chasing just about everything. So just add some teeth to the equation….great lololol. 😂

There is a rumor that dinosaurs went extinct at the end of the Cretaceous. Let me clarify that a bit.. Most dinosuar died during that punctuated extinction event. The ones that are still flying around us survived the extinction obviously. A quick comparison of T-rex anatomy and any modern bird will show MANY similarities in bone structure, utilization of lightly built mostly hollow bones for weight savings while maintaining strength. The comparisons can keep coming. Just look at any modern bird toe bone and compare it to a t-rex toe bone. Except for size….they are about the same design built by the same engineer.

This little tooth belonged to a flying, fighting carnivorous meat eater with a bad attitude. The only fast food on the menu was the stuff that got away. No 7-11 on the corner in the Cretaceous up here on the Montana/Wyoming border.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Site 9 by my field notebook. Surface. Cretaceous, HellCreek/Lance formation. Pretty much on the border of Montana/Wyoming.

Title: Chicken from Hell Tooth

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Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil

Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil
Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil

Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil?

Boy this sure looks like a fossil horn on a Bison head laying on it’s side.. It’s big and heavy. Those lichens are really old. Hummm I’m SURE that a cowboy or two has roped this over the decades lolol.

Rocks take on many (infinite) shapes due to differential weathering. Soft sediments like wet sand can flow as toothpaste from a tube into surrounding formations. When you put a 10 foot thick layer of heavy mud on top of a few feet of wet sand. This sand is the kind that would squish between your toes. You will get some mixing of the sand into the mud . It’s called “Soft sediment Deformation”. All sorts of exotic Shapes are formed. I’ve seen so many posted on the internet. I’ve got several dozen good examples but this is the biggest one. Yup, must be a fossil bison……. NOT.

Rocks that look like fossils but aren’t are called “Pseudofossils”. Wyoming/Montana has it’s share of real fossils and Pseudofossils. Don’t be fooled by shape. THere has to be substance , 3-d depth to a fossil. Biologic structures are not limited to the surface. You should be able to see “depth” to structure. This “fossil bison” is lacking in any other feature than a “Horn” sticking up and a general shape. Our minds tend to see order in random shapes so we attribute the “fossil Status” on the rock.

So it is a Pseudofossil (fake fossil). I will over time post more of them as I actually collect them and take photos side by side with the real thing. Shape does not make a fossil. There is no substance to a shape in and of itself.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Fossil Bison or PseudoFossil

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Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth

Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth
Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth

Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth: In my “backyard”… Real Big Wildlife, not the little critters we have running around now lolol.

Genuine medium sized T-rex teeth don’t grow on trees. . You don’t find or see these every day up here. We find maybe one every year on average. It’s hard to find them this nice. They are fragile at best plus they aren’t that common. Smaller teeth are more common as there were more smaller animals running around the environment.

The extra image below is a Cretaceous version of “Velociraptor”. It was a Cretaceous relative that paleontologists named Dromaeosaur. Note the serrations and obvious brown enameloid surface. This oak colored preservation is unique to one of my 25 microsites. All other teeth are black here. Again, looks remarkably like a dinosaur tooth. (The squares are an inch on a side). Serrations actively held on to meat bitten into, ripping it away.

These fossils were well preserved even after the owner broke them off. There is still a little bit of the root still attached (the browner part on the left ). The little white lines on the big tooth are chemical etching. This is related to either stomach acid and/or etchings from plant rootlets on the surface of the enamel. The enamel is essentially unchanged since the owner lost it over 66 million years ago.

These are both Hell Creek/Lance formation fossils. I have several of these bigger T-rex teeth . There are many hundreds of smaller other teeth in the ranch collection. These were found over 2 decades of hard work. Interestingly, they ALL to a one look like and actual tooth. Many people mistake rocks with random shapes for teeth. Not many are or were.

Pseudofossils:

I see many NON fossils (fake fossils) on the internet that look like teeth all the time. They are always random shapes of rocks that look like say a tooth… The human mind easily sees shapes in random data. Problem is, they have NO actual substance of a tooth. Most pseudofossils will have NO enamel. No tooth structures internally, no serrations on the edges, nothing that says tooth to a paleontologist. With no microstructure and 3D biology, there is no fossil there.

Pseudofossils may be very interesting and worth picking up. Cool stuff, they just aren’t fossils. These rocks have no biological history in their past thusly are not fossils. .

My background: (I have a masters degree in a Paleontological Field and have been running the Bliss DInosaur Ranch for 20 years. Digging DInosaurs in my spare time.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Cretaceous Raptor Dinosaur Teeth.

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Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal

Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal
Dinosaur Vertebra Nerve Canal

Looking through a Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal in this “Centrum” (vertebra without it’s external processes)

I saw this centrum sitting about in my outdoor rock pile lightly frosted and saw the possibilities lol. The top view is something that not many have seen. The hole is big enough to get your thumb in.

This vertebra was from the lower back area of a Hadrosaur (duckbill) dinosaur. It was found sitting on the surface in the grass at one of my sites. Sometimes all I have to do is walk around and pick stuff up lol. The neural canal was the first information super-highway. Long before fiber optics lolol.

Cretaceous Dinosaurs here in “Cretaceous Country.” Jurassic Park is way older. The End of the Cretaceous was the end of the rule of the dinosaurs over the earth. Those rocks are exposed here on ranch… The Hell Creek/Lance formations here are upper most Cretaceous sands deposited by huge sweeping rivers choked with sand. Bones were like wood then (and as big as branches mostly). Lots of small fossils too are present. Fossils of anything else that was in and around the water are discoverable along with the dinosaur stuff.

Everybody came down to drink sooner or later and was predated. The bones eventually got into the water and covered by fine grained sands and muds pretty quickly. The rivers were dumping sands by the boatload so the soon to be fossil got covered deeply quickly.

The missing processes are a result of being transported by the rivers. Any particular bone might have been buried, then re-excavated by the rivers moving back and forth meandering across the lands. We were just slightly north of the equator at the time. The continent was rotated about 90 degrees from how it is now.

Rule 1 of geology: Processes we observe today, were the same as in the past and will be in the future. Seems logical but some argue with this for what ever reason. I’m good with that.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Title: Dinosaur Vertebral Neural Canal

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Triceratops Toe “Phalanx” Fossil

Triceratops Toe "Phalanx" Fossil

Triceratops Toe “Phalanx” Fossil sees the first light of day in “Some Time” 😜

The latest Cretaceous Age here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch was a time of fine grained sediment accumulation deposited from huge rivers. These rivers were sweeping back and forth across the landscape choked by the sand and finer grained sediment load they carried. Sand sized material was the rule for these rivers ability/capacity to carry things down river. This Triceratops Toe “Phalanx” Fossil survived it’s transport from the distant past to the present under my gentle brush.

With the exception of isolated small scale deposits like this, the Hell Creek/Lance Formation is largely barren of fossils. In 5.5 square miles of HellCreek/Lance formation on my ranch, only about an acre can be called ‘fossilferous”. That acre is the total of 25 smaller locations (microsites) and a bone bed Triceratops Toe “Phalanx” Fossil sits here “In situ”. (In place in the undesturbed bedrock).

This fossil is positioned in the outcrop deeper than you might suspect. Your looking at a toe bone physiologically behind a claw/nail. it is 4 more inches deeper into the outcrop so this is the top 2 inches of the bone exposed. Triceratops had big toes lolol. It’s deeper than it is long. I like to take photos of fossils in the outcrop as it’s sort of the “Eureka”/adrenaline rush moment.

Geologic Musings on this ranches “Dirt”:

Geologists consider the Cretaceous to have ended 66 million years ago. This toe bone has literally not seen the light of day in that unfathomable period of time. The sediment it is in, is a mix of sand, clay with chunky chunks (up to 2 feet) of torn up river bottom clays. The ripped up chunks of clay were rounded by bounding down a river/transport. There is a 2 foot thick or so blue clay pure of any fossil or other detritus directly under this 3 foot thick channel. That above that clay is a channel packed with chunks of clay/mud from upstream. . A mix of at least 3 different mud chunks from various sources nearby. I’ve seen chunks of mud angular like they got torn up 50 feet up stream. So this is a “channel” I’ve been following that tapers on either side that filled up with ripped up chunks of upstream river bottom mixed with a variety of bones from who ever was walking around at the time.

The bones were dropped here for me to find because the river waters slowed enough in this location to drop them out of suspension here mixed in among chunks of mud. The spaces between the “Cobbles of mud” are filled with sandy material that “Sifted in” from the flowing water. This is classic river sedimentation/deposit stuff. That is where you find the little fossils too. Sands mixed with smaller rounded pebbles of river bottom clay. It’s all part of the “Bed load” of a river and what is in it depends on river current velocity… (followed by a really long discussion lolol). IF the river is fast enough to move

Location: Bliss Dinoaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana.

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Triceratops Pelvis With Tendons

Triceratops Pelvis With Tendons
Triceratops Pelvis With Tendons

Pelvis, Tendons for the tail of a Triceratops “In Situ” (In Place)

This Triceratops Pelvis with Tendons (ossified tendons) adjacent just left from the ligature supporting those massive heavy tails. Here is shown exposed from one of our “digs” up here. This animal was around 20 percent there with 80 percent missing as it were. More still of this animal may be at the site. It’s probably about 1 inch below or deeper into the hill than where we stopped digging. 🤣

Tools and Location:

Tools of the trade are brushes, Wood Awls, Superglue and of course shovels and wheelbarrows. Named the Triceratops “Doug” after the rancher that gave me permission to hunt on his ground (this is about 1/2 mile off my ranch so this was legally his fossil). The land owner owns the fossil unless you have been told otherwise as is the law with fossil remains generally. Very close to the Montana Wyoming border, this is Lance/HellCreek Formation. This is a dinosaur bone from the end of the rule of dinosaurs. Uppermost Cretaceous with perhaps 200 feet of Hell Creek/Lance Fm above this before everything when BOOM. Hell Creek/Lance is about 700 feet thick sandstone/shale sequence. It’s all river/lake sedimentation.

I first started this excavation in 2006 when I found a partial brow horn from a triceratops walking this hillside. . It was all by itself down hill from the side about 30 meters. It even a little right of the final location for this Triceratops carcass. This threw me off for a day or so finding the actual fossil bearing sediment. (It was a big hillside). Fossils laying on the surface came from somewhere. Usually either right where they initially found are OR somewhere up hill of which this one was steep and big. It could have come from ANYWHERE up slope. (That Discovery piece is a wonderful fossil too). The site was finished 3 years ago now soon after this was removed. .

Remember it is illegal to collect vertebrate fossils from State, Federal or Tribal Land. Only private deeded land is OK to collect from/on. You want written permission from Tribal land management and only state authorized digging can occur on state ground. BLM is a tougher nut to crack so generally if you find a vertebrate bone of any significance on a piece of federal/state ground, leave it there. Don’t neglect a report it to the local field office of the BLM. (not that “Brontosaurus Lives Don’t Matter” but I refer here to the Bureau of Land Management lolol). It’s best to have fossil agreements in writing. Just my 2 cents. I point you to the BLM website for more specific instruction on the law as I’m not a lawyer.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Triceratops Vertebra with Processes

Triceratops Vertebra with Processes
Triceratops Vertebra with Processes

While finding a Cretaceous age Triceratops Vertebra with Processes still attached is possible, it doesn’t happen very often with an isolated fossil not attached to another bone.

Geologic Musings:

I spent many years working on determining paleo-environments. It the environment of deposition that produced rock deposits. This can be determined from any number of clues left in the rocks. (Wrote a Masters thesis on this). I am biostratigraphically and sedimentologically very aware of how this Triceratops vertebra with processes got to be here…cer. There are many indications to what was going on during it’s deposition. This Bentonitic Clay rich Mud was on the edge of a lake. This deposit consisted of what was then Volcanic Ash as a “dump” was washed into the lake hydraulically. That washed in volcanic “mud” made a “deltaic” intrusion into the much larger lake.

This particular bed of sediment I have traced over about 2 square miles. I loose visual on the bed as it disappears either underground or has been removed by erosion. So this was a pretty big lake and a big delta deposit into that lake. Represented is not a high energy Splay deposit that might exist next to a big natural river levy (highest things on the landscape probably). It’s not high energy like a splay proven from the lack of larger chunks of plant matter….

There were BIG rivers sweeping back then. Sweeping back and forth carrying LOTS of sand during this time in Wyoming/Montana. The sand was mixed along with this finer material (clays) by the boat load and dumping it. Low energy let the fine clays settle out (like in lakes). Otherwise the clays (size term just like sand) would stay in suspension in agitated water. This had to be a calm environment like a lake. Most of my Hell Creek Fossils are found in RIver NOT lake deposits by the way lol.

Considerations:

That volcanic ash was altered over the 66 million intervening years into “Bentonite” which is an incomplete description of the sediment. Bentonite is just ONE Clay mineral that is represented here. Dozens of clay minerals are in this mix. Digging in this stuff is like pushing a wood awl through very thick hard modeling clay. Sometimes you can get it in a few inches, others just a quarter of an inch. You stick and pluck the awl and slowly clear off sediment to facilitate this treasures removal. It’s all very moist and most of the fossils have a white crust around them. They usually clean up beautifully brown.

Overview

Maybe 20 percent of this Triceratops was recovered nearby this isolated Triceratops vertebra with processes. We finally all gave up looking for more of the carcass. It could be 1 inch down and we wouldn’t know it lolol. It’s bones were obviously scattered/fed on and stepped on after it floated into the lake at least once. I noted that ALMOST all the bone fossils in this deposit were laying flat horizontal to the lake bottom. One rib was obviously stepped on as it was broken in half with 1/2 of it being vertical. It was pushed down into the mud by someone walking over. I’ve found coprolites (fossil poop) here too. This would be indicating that active feeding and pooping was happening for a while. Also found a smaller raptor tooth in the mix. (Dromaeosaur richaroestacia. (sic).

The soft organic rich mud covering the fossil was rich in small fragments macerated plant matter. This is an obvious lake deposit covering several square miles at a minimum. The energy was very low here. Calm water, no doubt shallow as the wading dinosaurs confirm. There was not a lot of topography on the Hell Creek Formations mostly sandy river deposits on a broad sweeping plane. Much of a rib cage was recovered along with a scapula and several other very nice fossils from this animal. I found this site by tracing a big chunk of Triceratops Brow Horn back up hill to where it came from. Took a few looks lol.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

Triceratops Vertebra with Processes

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Dinosaur Tail Vertebra “In situ”

Fossil Tail Vertebra "In situ" in Hell Creek Formation
Fossil Tail Vertebra "In situ" in Hell Creek Formation

Geologic Musings: This Dinosaur Tail Vertebra “In situ” (in the rock) was taken on an outcrop of Hell Creek Formation we at the Bliss DInosaur Ranch have been working for well over a decade. This small Tail Vertebra from a Dinosaurian got itself a photo. It was experiencing the first light from the sun in some time you might say and had a hankerin’ for a little “limelight”. Here’s some old “wildlife” from the Wyotana borderlands. 🤔

I’m not sure of the name of the previous owner but it sure cleaned up nicely when all that white crust (which is commonly around fossils up here being sort of a chemical reaction area with ground water fluids bearing alternative minerals with them. A reaction rind so to speak. When cleaned with a tooth brush and water, the real bone structure is visible. It’s not crocodile for sure. I know what it’s not….

Paleontological Stuff:

Hell Creek/Lance Formations are the Cretaceous River Sands/muds the dinosaurs hung out on. Our Ranch is covered with both formations across the MT/WY state line where the Formations change names formally. Same rocks, different name.🤣

I got my masters degree on all things Paleo-Environmental……..I was one one of the first Pale-environmentalist ever minted lolol. There is another that will read this I graduated with. Hi Dave!

So, paleo-topography when this dinosaur roamed was a broad equitorial coastal plain sloping like the piedmont of North Carolina east facing toward the then interior sea way Stretching from the current Gulf of Mexico across the continent to Canada.

Facies: (good google word with geology attached) At the same time in adjacent locations there were the land sandy deposition, the Beach Sand (you know with the little umbrellas mixed in with the sands) and the Marine Sediments were to the east with Cephalopods, Marine Dinosaurs and a host of deeper water fossils.
My ranch and most of the eastern parts of MT/WY/CO gets it’s water from those beach sands (Fox Hill Formation) which is UNDER the Hell Creek/Lance that eventually built OVER the older beach as the growing land filled up the interior sea. That terrestrial riverine environment is at the surface now with younger sediments removed. We do find some sand blasted petrified wood that are residual in the surface sediments that have been removed relics all. The Hell Creek Lance sands all came from now gone large mountain range to the west of the current location of the BigHorn Mountain.. Those missing mountains provided the Sands for the Dinosaurs to walk on.

Huge Rivers the size of the Missouri swept back and forth across the land choked in sand. Many times fossils were moved and buried several times by the meandering occasionally flooding rivers of the Cretaceous Hell Creek Plain. This sediment was laid down at the end of the age of Dinosaurs with T-rex and Triceratops being key players…. .

There is a reason we are Called the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Location: Montana/Wyoming borderlands.

Dinosaur Tail Vertebra “In situ”

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T-rex’s Middle Toe Bone…just before the Killing Claw!

T-rex's Middle Toe Bone...just before the Killing Claw!
T-rex's Middle Toe Bone...just before the Killing Claw!

There is a reason we are called the “Bliss Dinosaur Ranch. T-rex’s Middle Toe Bone, Just before the HIGHLY desirable killing claw is a rare bone being on 2 per T-rex. The T-rex’s only constitute 2 percent of the fossil volume found in the Hell Creek Formation. This is about 1/400th of the volume of a t-rex’s skeletons proportionality so 1/400th of 2 percent.

Here the bone is still moist and has sand all over it from it’s excavation from a burial of 66 million years or more. . It was quite perfect (still is), needed NO superglue to hold it together or repair it in any way. (way unusual)
It is also rare for a river water deposited bone to be “perfect” after being washed unknown miles down an ancient river, buried, washed away in a scour or channel change, rinse and repeat for 3 million years of this sand being dumped by huge rivers from the highlands to the west of here transported by water and left here for me to dig in.. I earned a Masters Degree along the way in a related geologic field to Paleontology and have been a geologist/paelontologist since I was 5 years old.
It was no coincidence I moved to this spot 20 years ago. The geologic maps said this ranch was covered in younger rocks than the dinosaurs. I knew they were wrong when I asked the guy who dug all the wells in the area how far down it was to Fox Hill formation which is the local aquifer (he had worked in the area of our ranch) where everyone around here gets their water. Hell Creek is 700 feet thick. Fox Hill is the Beach Sand that the DInosaurs walked on and is stratigraphically lower/under the terrestrial Hell Creek DInosaur Bearing sand. 700 feet of Hell Creek minus 500 feet to Fox Hill made me suspect there was at least 200 feet of Hell Creek fossiliferous (possibly) layers on the surface. I was right and it was a few years before I figured out where 25 micro-sites and a bone quarry were . I also located a partial triceratops on a neighboring ranch. There are a few other spots I know of…🤔

There are in excess of 10K fossils in the ranch collection currently. Before you ask, I do not nor ever will sell fossils. They will go as a collection to a museum some day.

FYI, it is illegal to collect vertebrate remains on public/BLM/State/Indian land. Leave them be. You can only legally collect such fossils from private deeded land. So before you look, ask the landowner for permission…preferably written and no I don’t have people randomly come up here to look around on their own. No horn collectors, no hunters please. This is a private ranch.

The Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Killing Raptor Claw from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch

Killing Raptor Claw from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch
Killing Raptor Claw from the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch

This 3 inch killing claw from a good sized Raptorian Dinosaur found here on the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch by me back in 2005. I was digging in an outcrop of Hell Creek Formation here on ranch (private deeded land) and his fell out into my grubby sandblasted hands. These don’t drop out of the rock every day I point out. Only one found in 18 years of working the rocks…I’m still looking for the 10 inch one.

We are covered in Hell Creek Sands. I’m a retired guy/geologist with a paleontologic graduate degree who eventually bought a ranch that only I knew had dinosaur fossil on it. I didn’t know where they were but I knew they were here. …..As soon as the water well people told me that Fox Hill sandstone (the aquifer ) was 500 feet below the surface, I knew as a paleo interested geolgist that the 700 foot thick sequence of the dinosaur fossil bearing Hell Creek Formation would be at the surface. The USGS geologic maps of the area disagreed with me. They were wrong lolol.

Location: Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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Cowboys and Dinosaurs

Cowboys and Dinosaurs
Cowboys and Dinosaurs

(Satire): For me to get the image of Cowboys and Dinosaurs. I bought the old original 1950’s “Way Back Machine on Ebay. (Classical Reference to “Mr Peabody and Sherman” but the 1950’s original). It’s a time travel device, took some tinkering… So we here at the Bliss Dinosaur Ranch sent some cowboys back to the Cretaceous to collect some samples. Here’s a quick snap of some of the action 65 million years ago here in the soon to be borderlands of Wyoming/Montana. We have many such stories here on the ranch (and lots of fossils). One of my boys lost his right spur while ropin’ on that t-rex… I hoping to dig it up some day…🤣 Halloween Madness lololololol (laughing maniacally)

ART, pure and simple…

Location: In my workstation, Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.

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T-Rex Teeth This Big Are Uncommon

T-Rex Teeth This Big Are Uncommon
T-Rex Teeth This Big Are Uncommon

I spent the better part of 3 days with a group of 4 astute and focused adults looking for fossils…. To my bone site (The horn Sieve site”… 

T-rex teeth this big are quite uncommon and are in high demand bringing a grand an inch on ebay. (I’ve never sold a fossil and never will). though they are not particularly scientifically interesting as an isolated specimen. I have found 7 over 20 year of working this location. 

Guests here to the DInosaur Ranch are throwing their fishing line into a “pond” with really big fish. Anything can come out of these he Hell Creek formation and this site in particular. I send fossils home with guests they recover with the caviat if they get something scientifically important, they can pick the museum it goes to. I might trade them something as interesting by not unknown for it. 

She, a first time ever fossil digger… took this home ….. They will have it professionally prepared as I suggested. It will be beautiful. 

Getting a spot to dig here….harder than finding a t-rex. Don’t ask for now.

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Nanotyranus

Nanotyranus
Nanotyranus

This is the smaller of the two “larger teeth… Nanotyranus…. (LOOOONG discussions but probably a small T-rex…..)

I’m heading up the hill….See the east horizon….. I’ll be back around 7ish…