Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Western Association of Vertebrate Paleontologists

WAVP meeting Feb 12,13,14 2009

We went to a Vertebrate Paleontologists Meeting (WAVP) at the Petrified Forest last week. It began with a 200th birthday party for Charles Darwin on the 12th followed by a Field Trip in the Petrified Forest and a full day of professional papers.

The field trip started with a tour of the Fossil Prep. lab. This is where the bones go after they have been covered in plaster and removed to the lab. The Prep people remove the matrix and stabilize the bones. It is a real art.

The main fossil animal they have found in the Petrified Forest is not a true "Dinosaur" -- it is a Phytosaur --a large Croc like animal that lived in the streams of the Triassic . There are only a few true Dinosaurs found in the Park. Thanks to the New Mexico Museum of Natural History for the Phytosaur Illustration below:

The Field Trip was led by Bill Parker -the Staff Paleontologist in the park. He explained the new work they have been doing on the geology of the park. They have revised the stratigraphy as well as digging new fossils during the field season.

We had one off-trail hike into the muddy Chinle badlands to see one of the very productive fossil locations.

A Phytosaur tooth

The next day was four sessions of technical papers about the latest research in Vertebrate Paleontology - much technical and over our heads as non-specialists, but others very informative. Overall it was a great couple of days. Bill organized an excellent conference. He has also put together a very informative paleontology exhibit at the park headquarters (proving that a quality exhibit can be made with limited funds.)
Harry and Debbie Allen

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