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.
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.
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??
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”.
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.
Trees growing out of boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, is a hard cap rock that has resisted erosion thusly protecting the rocks below. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone. This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy. They are 66 million years old and that lichen can be 100 years or more old. Only rocks that are undisturbed have big lichen patches. Cattle pressure/wear from rubbing will destroy it.
There are big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.), sometimes called pincushion lichen. Bear in mind that there are hundreds of different species of Lichen that inhabit Wyoming and differentiating them exactly is sort of a science all by itself. Lichenologists have to have work of some kind. Achidemia is the obvious job path. I suspect that there is a use for court testimony however the job prospects of a Lichenologist is about the same as a masters in biostratigraphy such as myself. Though interestingly, biostratigraphers do a lot of work with oil companies .. My general comment about Lichen nomenclature is that you need a bachelors of science in Biology (which I have) to look at the photos. The text about the lichen is a foreign language.😀😀.
Enjoying a sunset while walking around with several cameras in the remote backcountry is similar to a shooting gallery with a .22 but without the report. Lots of good stuff to shoot at. Just a click versus bang. BTW, I do carry a firearm in the backcountry. add a few more pounds. You never know exactly what your going to run into. A 10mm 1911 pistol with a 5 inch barrel is good for 300 yards… (work on that one for a while). This was taken this fall and it was pretty chilly.
I am literally standing on the Montana/Wyoming border taking this shot. This is a favorite overlook of mine. A view to the north of the Mud Hills which is the first range north of my ranch across the Ranch Creek Drainage. We call this place the “treed” pasture as it’s about 2 square miles of mixed pine trees and grassy hills and gullies.
A land of many uses:
Cattle grazing during the summer pasture is a major use here obviously. Cattle can’t be pastured around pine trees in the winter as they will eat the needles. Those needles contain turpentine which will cause the pregnant cows to spontaneously abort. Several hundred cow/calf pair hang out around here for a month or two during Late May through Early July. We move cattle out of here in early July to facilitate the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship courses 3 and 4 use.
This ground has been home to a nationally ranked Team Tactical Rifle Championship for 18 years. Almost 4 miles of groomed rifle courses in 16 shooting stations exposing 150 fixed reactive steel Targets out to 1200 yards. This location is the last (or first) station on course 3 lolol. Snipers nest with literally thousands of precision rifle shots at those reactive steel targets down range.
There are a few dozen locations (I’ve found so far) within this “Pasture” that has Hell Creek/Lance Formation that contain dinosaurian (and others) fossils. I found my first dinosaur tooth in this pasture 18 years ago. I knew they were here, I just didn’t know where. You do have to look though occasionally I stumble on dinosaur bones laying in the grass like any other stone in the middle of the prairie. I have found several fossil locations that way. You can’t find them if you can’t see them lolol.
We even have had a nationally released 4×4 video in 2008 filmed here. Peterson’s 4 Wheel Drive and Off Road Magazine filmed part of their “Ultimate Adventure” video series here that year. It’s out there if you want to watch several high end jeeps flip over trying to climb out of some of the soft sandstone lined gullies.
Perspective: Rock Ledge Shelter is a capture that I put myself into the mind of a mouse to compose. I find that compared to scale of the backcountry here in the borderlands, I’m a mouse anyway😋 Everything is proportional which is the game with photography. This is about 2 miles into the backcountry. I know of another one that I can walk under and stay very dry. The Hell Creek/Lance formation this ledge is a part of, is not known for large caves. That’s limestone that dissolves away to make caves. This is sandstone so we get Rock Ledge Shelters here.
You can’t build a fire under one of these safely though. Many a person has been killed by rocks falling from above a fire build under a rock ledge shelter. The rock expands from the heat and a dead fall trap ensues. It will keep you dry and out of the wind though, pull up some leaves and pine needles and relax.
Angles and leading lines. I am always thinking compositions when I click the shutter. Sure you focus (last thing). You worry about your settings. (With a mirrorless camera you see what your getting BEFORE you take the photo BTW). The Proportions of 1/3rds, and a “hero” which here is the sunstar. This defraction star is light bouncing around in the lens off of the edges of the aperture (the pupil) of the lens. The aperture is known as f-stop.
You need to learn that fstop is a double edged sword. Turning it up high like this (F22) gives you very deep fields of focus from up close to infinite. The sword part is where you really shut the lens down to light (pin point pupil). A LOW fstop nubmer (f2.8 say) will give you a very narrow field of focus say the grass but not the sky. A blurry background is good sometimes but not in my landscape perpectives. By nature they are close/far focus as it’s all about the close details. The background is important yes but its the detail I’m after.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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….
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.
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.
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.