In field paleontology, one of the most important things you do once you find bone is create a proper field jacket. Jeff Martz recently created a nice little cartoon that describes the typical steps involved in jacketing bone once it's found (above), although he does leave out a very important final step - carrying the jacket out of the field. Here I'll show you what these steps look like in real life - an example from the Revueltosaurus Quarry - as we go from finding bone to bringing it home.
Step 1 was complete in 2004, when Bill Parker and his interns discovered this site while prospecting. In anticipation of finding more bone, we've been excavating (Step 2) since the beginning of the summer. A little over two weeks ago (June 22nd, 2012), we removed the first two big jackets from the Revueltosaurus Quarry here at PEFO. One weighed around 100 lbs, the other over 300 lbs. The 300 lb jacket contained what is likely an entire individual revueltosaur.
|Slowly outlining where the bone is. It's hard to see, but the bone is a faint orange color in the middle of the photo.|
|Jacketing some parts of the block as Bill continues to define the edges.|
The block continued to expand, until we were finally able to define all the edges (Step 3) by June 12. By June 15, we had a complete, jacketed block. We also had the second block starting to take shape right beside it. Bill managed to recruit some help to haul these two jackets out of the quarry and up out of the badlands, so by June 21, we were ready to flip them both (Step 5). A testament to good jacketing, both blocks flipped perfectly, with no signs flexing.
|With the smaller jacket flipped, Bruce chisels out some excess rock.|