After last summer's discovery of a new mosasaur at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre's dig site, it has been brought home in field jackets and the process of going through the earth in each jacket is well underway.
Fossil Hunter and Field & Lab Technician Gerry Peters gave an update.
"What we're working on today and over the past weeks, and months actually, is cleaning all the field jackets that contain the fossils that we brought in from the Mosasaur we found this summer. So, we have a Will (Kalinowski) here, he's been doing a lot of the cleaning and emptying the field jackets, removing the extra matrix from around the bones. And from that point, I take them, and I do a little bit extra cleaning and do all the measurements and all the data keeping and all that, and trying to piece the bones together as best I can."
The process is detailed as Peters said it's important to document what is happening in the soil around the fossils. A lot of work goes into pouring through each piece.
"Some of the bones we find, they really get us scratching our heads, got to do a lot of research to figure out what exactly it is. There was one bone we thought for a while was part of the brain case of the mosasaur, but it turned out it was just a broken bird vertebra, actually. Once we had it all together, we found a few more pieces as we went along, we managed to get more of a bone to fit together and realized it was a bird, not part of the mosasaur. It's that type of thing that that we're doing here."
Each piece is catalogued, bagged and sorted. Some of the pieces belonging to the mosasaur are already coming together.
"We have enough already that's been removed here and I kind of put them in a bit of an order here, so you guys can see it. Now, we can get a pretty good estimate of what the overall length of this mosasaur would be, and it would be about the size of the what's currently the largest reptile on earth of the saltwater crocodile with about 6 meters long. So that's an impressive size, not a world record like Bruce, but it's getting close to half the size of Bruce, which is quite impressive really. And again, it's as big as any reptile on Earth today. So, it would have been a formidable animal to run into back in the day."
Peters noted Kalinowski has played a significant role in going through the nine of ten field jackets so far, coming in almost every day.
Peters is looking forward to warmer weather and getting out into the dig site this summer.
"Everybody turns into a child when they find their first fossil. It's just exciting bringing kids out, bringing older kids out, people into their 80s we had last year. Getting out there, digging, and excavating bones. It's just bringing paleontology to the masses, really. It's a lot of fun finding fossils. It's quite exciting. And here it looks a little bit static, but when you're out the field, and you're brushing away, and all of a sudden the bone appears, it gets your heart going a little bit."