Just add water: a mammal fauna in minutes!

6 September 2008. Keluke Lake, Olongbuluk Mountains

Today was a long day. I had to take a nap.

[screen washing along Keluke Lake]

After washing 103 bags of sediment yesterday, we finished the remaining 17 bags in the morning. In the mean time, Xiaoming and Dr. Xie Guangpu relocated the site of Birger Bohlin's field photogaph of the Keluke Lake area, and reproduced the photograph with a digital camera.

[group photo]

After meeting for lunch and a group photo, we split up again. One team went to measure the geologic section of the Chuanshuiliang area (where we camped for the past week). I went prospecting, and found an entire large mammal fauna in a matter of 20 minutes.

[first batch of fossils: top right is questionable chalicothere]

Some of the new material added to our current collection include the lower jaws of a chalicothere, a group of large extinct herbivorous mammals. I also found a partial jaw that might belong to an entelodont, an extinct group of large, perhaps omnivorous ungulate mammals.

[second batch: horns at top center, partial antelope skull at bottom right]

But on top of those discoveries, I found a partial lower jaw of a gracile hyaenid, what I think might be a medium sized species of Hyaenictitherium, a late Miocene hyena resembling a small wolf or large jackal.

That makes two different hyena occurrences discovered in the past week, a pretty good (great) week, I would say.

[the two hyaenids found so far: Hyaenictitherium at top, ?Percrocuta at bottom]

Tomorrow we are moving our base of operations up-slope to Kunlun Mountain Pass, our highest fossil locality at over 14,700 feet in elevation. We are gearing up for snow.


1 comment:

gigantopithecus said...

Ryan here, from the Page excavation crew (finally). Well, it's taken half my weekend to get caught up on your blog, Jack, but I've been quite enjoying it. Expect soon an email from me where I pick your brain on Smilodon ( clavicles.
Your earlier post on Smilodon saber growth rates made me curious as to whether the "enamel isotopic signals of growth" studies had been published already. If so...oh, never mind, just found it. They only just last week put away those maxillae!

Congratulations on your mandibular successes there so far (/already)! I look forward to more posts.