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Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation

Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation
Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation

Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation

The Big Horn Mountains 60 miles to the west supplied the sediment of this exposed section of Tullock Formation (Fm). Tullock Fm. consists of alluvial fan and swamp deposits all the way back to the mountains. Sediments washing off the newly risen peaks were filling up the coterminously formed sedimentary basin (Powder River Basin). The huge coal mines we have here are mining the coal formed in those swamps at the base of the Proto-BigHorn Mountains. Those mountains were much higher when they were young plus the basin was deeper.

Huge blocks of the earths crust uplifted and correspondingly downwarped during a major tectonic compression episode called the Laramide Orogeny. Cloud peak is 13,175 feet and is visible in this image. The same compressional forces that uplifted the peaks, also downwarped the adjacent basin to the east. This Basin called the Powder River Basin. This basin the major source of coal in the US. The burning of this coal generates 30 percent of the electricity generated in the United States.

My ranch coincidentally sits directly on the western most edge of the Wyoming Black Hills. It is actually JUST east of the edge of the Powder River Basin. If I drive 2 miles west, I start to see alluvial fan sediment. These sediment fans stretch all the way from the Big Horns. Dissected into ridges by huge rivers washing off the peaks during glaciation. . These alluvial deposits are far reaching, called the “Tullock/Fort Union” formation. Major Mountain sized Anticlines and Synclines resulted from the continental wide compression.. Huge were the forces bending even the underlying crystalline Pre-Cambrian rocks. The rocks to clay washing off of those peaks filled the basin and washed just about to my front door.

Understanding the geology here takes many books to read, its a long list and growing 🤔😀📷

Location: near the Bliss DInosaur Ranch, WYoming/Montana borderlands

Title: Sheet Rainbow Tullock Formation

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The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation

The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation
The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation

The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation

Having lived for 10 years in Jackson Hole and having taught geology in that part of the state…. I enjoy the scenery on a whole different level

One the Highway between Dubois and Moran Junction there is the “Breccia Cliff” that I’ve always known as “The Pinnacles”. They are a magnificent exposure of Volcanic Lahar flows (hot glowing cloud of volcanic debris) layered one on top of the next. It is a geology classroom all around this country but don’t try to climb that hill. It’s always having avalanches and rock falls in that country.

I’ve been up to it’s base but it took a day on horseback to do it. Do not try that on foot, it’s way further back than you think. Unforgiving country. Grizzleys hang out there now.

The rock there is basically a blender mix of tuft, scoria, a volcanic conglomerate as it were. Chunky pieces, angular all suspended in a fine grain matrix of volcanic rock. This formation is seldom found below 10,000 feet in elevation on the eastern margin of Jackson Hole. The formation is up to 3000 feet thick in this country. That’s a lot of Lahars….. You can drive right to this picture spot on Highway 287 and pull over on this meadow along the side of the road. Click

There are some wonderful lakes in this area. This is snowmobile recreational heaven in that country. Big Groomed trails along the divides cover this area. There are a few campgrounds and a lodge or two in the area. This is pristine northern Wind River Range backcountry visible right off the road.

Location: Hwy 287, 30 miles north of
Dubois on Togwatee Pass.

Title: The Pinnacles: Wiggins Formation

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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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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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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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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.