Geosciences in Alaska


Arctic Alaska Dinosaur Project

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Preparatory Field Trip to Pt. Reyes

Field Research in Alaska

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Trip Log: Wednesday, July 24, 2002

We woke up to 46.8 degree F temperatures, with cloud-covered grey skies at 6:30 a.m. so that we could partake of Kevin May’s delicious pancakes. It was still misty but the rain seemed to have eluded us.

chinooks arriving

Above: The Chinooks brought the reporters to Poverty Bar.
Below: Reporters check out our work, as Kevin explains what we’re doing.


The first boatload of us arrived at our quarry sites around 8 a.m. and the second around 8:15. When the coffee finally took hold, we continued our slow and careful uncovering of Cretaceous dino bones. At 11a.m. we took a hot beverage break while hovering around a beachfront fire.

Not long after, we spied two very large birds on the horizon…two Chinook helicopters full of reporters had arrived. Interestingly enough the Peregrine falcons did not make a peep while the Chinooks were across the river. (We are wondering if they thought that they were just very large predators and were quiet in an effort to elude capture.) Dr. Dave ferried the reporters and helicopter pilots across the silent liquid highway to our quarries. Quickly, 35mm cameras, video cameras, notebooks appeared to record everyone’s take on their experiences on Poverty Bar and the precious treasures we were unearthing. They interviewed us while we were plumb-bobbing, taking x, y, and z coordinates and mapping our numerous finds. What was amazing was that the reporters seemed to have brought the 85-degree Fairbanks weather with them, but sadly they took it away when they left at 3 p.m.

Rena and Holly
Rena and Holly in the weather port typing up the day’s report.

The falcons once again raised their voices in annoyance as soon as our visitors left. We are sure that those Chinooks were the biggest birds these present-day raptors had ever seen. Lunch was served soon after. It included white fish, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, yum-yum.

Quarries 1 and 2 had some pretty amazing finds, which included skull fragments, a dentary with tooth rows, neural arches, and a pelvis bone. Quarry 3 found a manus phalanx, and more theropod teeth. Quarry 4 fought back the eroding bluff and found a humerus and part of a hadrosaur jaw. They have decided to include terraces in their landscape design in an effort to hold back the bluff. The joke is: they will be planting rice next spring.

After 8.5 hours in the pit we left tired, dirty, but feeling nice, so nice, oh so very nice.

Reporters for the day, Rena and Holly

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Project partners and sponsors:
West Contra Costa Unified School District   UC Museum of Paleontology   University of Alaska Museum    National Science Foundation    The Mechanics Bank
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