Wilma and Fred have nothing up on these accommodations. This is a small dry cave up on our ranch. There are quite a few overhang shelters in the extended “area” I’m familiar with. This is BIG country to say the least. I’ve been up here actively exploring for 20 years. I just found this shelter last year. It’s cozy in there but it’s dry. How many of you would crawl backwards into a dark small cave. I figured I’d see what lived in there lolol.
Hell Creek/Lance formation covers our Ranch. It’s the famous dinosaur fossil bearing sandstone. There are no fossils obvious in this spot. The ridge upon which this shelter is located is typical. Aa hard well “indurated” (google word of the day) sandstone caps it like an umbrella. . The material that washed away to expose this cave was softer/less resistant to erosion. The cap rock usually protects everything under from exposure thus begins the removal of softer rocks surrounding. Eventually you have a hill or a flat topped butte. In this cave, you have a rare case where the cap rock couldn’t keep agents of erosion from removing the loosely consolidated sandstone that obviously used to fill this hole.
Of course here as everywhere agent of erosion like Wind/Water/Ice/Hot/Cold/Rain/Freezing/Thawing are the driving factors to remove boulders by making sand out of them. The sand blows or washes away. This ground used to be covered by thousands of feet of younger sediment. This sediment has been removed by the agents of erosion over the eons leaving this cave. view
Trees growing out of large boulders are always a photographic target . Particularly with a LOT trees growing out of boulders. On the crest of this backcountry ridge, this is a sand tube area where sand was compressed into an elongated sphere early on when it was first buried but still soft and wet. This is ALL Hell Creek Sandstone which routinely flows around internally a bit like soft putty. Sort of like squeezing a tooth paste tube. . This leaves these relatively harder boulders for me to enjoy as they resist weathering better than the material around them.
Deposited in the Cretaceous era about 66 million years old as an age. 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. This boulder is way out there remote. Not a lot of people have been to this spot. I see wonderful sunsets from here.
Big areas of this boulder strewn surface covered with Sunburst Liichen (Xanthoria sp.) exists here. Called pincushion lichen by some. 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. Academia 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.😀😀.
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.
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.
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.
This was a Landscape from Heaven (sure cold as hell) that day last winter.
I’m reposting some of the image I really like to get them current and uploaded. I love this as a pure landscape. This is the top of “Ranch Creek” The road is the Pass road to Belle Creek and Alzeda Montana should I choose to drive that way :). I own the rocky hill in the foreground as one of the furthest north into Montana piece of my ranch. Beyond are other ranches. Bliss Dinosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands.