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Triceratops Toes Composite

Triceratops Toes Composite
Triceratops Toes Composite

Triceratops Toes Composite (Real Wildlife)….

There are 19 bones in the toes of “Triceratops horridus” . These toe bones are each a separate animals contribution to this composite assemblage. All approximately the right sized toe bones properly place to assemble those toes to scale. Our Ranch sits entirely with the Dinosaur Fossil rich Hell Creek/ Lance Formation at the surface. The 66 million year old/Cretaceous Terrestrial Sandstone Formation is not abundantly fossiliferous but I’m sure there are several animals around here. The trick is seeing them through the rock. Each and every bone I find promotes an adrenaline filled EUREKA moment. I’ve been a student of paleontology since I was 5 years old with my first EUREKA moment. 🤔🤣

Each one of these individual bones was a separate excavation at different times and 3D place in the outcrop. None of these belong to the same Triceratops. It took a few years and a little work to gather the bits and pieces for this assemblage. Several of the pieces show repair, a few are as found broken/cracked. Stabilized all with a diluted superglue compound. (Paleobond or Starbond). Soaking into the porous bone, the capillary action wicks the thin cyanoacryilate stabilizing the fossil. Deposition occurred long before the Big Horn Mountains rose from the earth. 130 miles to their west. The River that transported these bones also carried sand from Mountains long gone now. Mountains come, and mountains return to the sea as sand carried down by the river.

The hooves/claws/fingertips are the RARE bones but I indicate that just “plain old” Triceratops toe bones don’t grow on trees anymore lololol. Particularly pretty well preserved ones. This particular fossil site providing these is a wonderful place. 📸

Table below is an Eocene lake bed from Kemmerer. The whole table has several fossil fish on it but that’s not the focus for this post. You can see a partial on the lower left corner and a tail on the far right. The white spots are cuprolites. For a Scale I used an 18 inch ruler. The table weighs about 400 pounds. It rolls well on it’s side though. 🤣👀

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

Formation: Hell Creek/ Lance Fm: Cretaceous Terrestrial RIver Sands and Mudtsones: Horn Sieve Beds, Coll: Frank Bliss.

Title: Triceratops Toes Composite

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Triceratops Toe Fossil

Triceratops Toe Fossil
Triceratops Toe Fossil

Triceratops Toe Fossil

I believe this is a Triceratops Toe (nail)… It’s known as a Pez Ungual to be precise.

The difference between Hadrosaur Dinosaurs (Duck Bills) and Triceratops (Three Horn) is a matter of opinion i believe lol. Wider like this is probably Triceratops. Longer thinner versions of the same bone I usually attribute to either Hadrosaur or PachyCephalosaur (Bone Head with Spikes). . These three and others had hoofs very similar in general shape. The larger ones are probably all Triceratops as they constitute over 50 percent of the fossil record of the Hell Creek Formations. Hadrosaurs only were about 25 percent of the herd.

It’s like the bone that is under your fingernail. Except the cuticle/nail covered it like a horn. The holes and grooves are all venous processes and nerve pathway/holes for those to base around the blood rich toe tips.

Hadrosaurs and Triceratops were both the “cattle” of their day. All the Raptors accounted for less that 5 percent of the fossil record. I have found a dozen of these over 20 years. River transport beat up most… . Often someone chewing/breaking dinged them.. Random breaking in the outcrop is also selective against these being preserved. This particular one is essentially perfect, no glue needed. This needs a serious session under an miniature sandblaster using sodium bicarbonate to blast away the sand on the surface.

Formation: Hell Creek / Lance Cretaceous Terrestrial River / Lake sediments at the end of the reign of the dinosaurs. Circa 66 million years ago.

Location: Bliss DInosaur Ranch, Wyoming/Montana borderlands. 3:1 Triptych

Title: Triceratops Toe Fossil

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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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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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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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Reflections Grassy Knob Lake

Reflections Grassy Knob Lake
Reflections Grassy Knob Lake

“Reflections Grassy Knob Lake” is a study I did of this interesting shape (use of negative space) within the overall environment of rippled/reflected Nautical Twilight Sky off a lake on the Montana/Wyoming borderline. There was enough wind to ripple and the sky was starting to blaze. Click

As I move about in the backcountry here in the borderlans…I often see little areas of Zen like this almost everywhere but the hard part is capturing the scene in my photon capture boxes..🤔

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

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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.