In July 2021, a team of volunteers, paleontology staff, K-12 educators who were part of the DIG Field School program and students from UW and other universities worked together to excavate these dinosaurs. All of the dinosaurs other than the Triceratops will be prepared in the Burke Museums fossil preparation laboratory this fall and winter season. The Triceratops fossil stays on the website since the dig group continued to discover more and more bones while excavating and needs an additional field season to excavate any additional bones that may be connected to the surrounding rock. Museum visitors can now see paleontologists get rid of rock from the first of the four dinosaurs– the theropod hips– in the Burkes paleontology preparation laboratory. All four dinosaurs will be held in trust for the public on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management and become a part of the Burke Museums collections.
” Each fossil that we gather assists us sharpen our views of the last dinosaur-dominated ecosystems and the very first mammal-dominated communities,” said Gregory Wilson Mantilla, a UW professor of biology and manager of vertebrate paleontology at the Burke Museum. “With these, we can much better understand the processes involved in the loss and origination of biodiversity and the fragility, collapse and assembly of environments.”
The Hell Creek geologic formation. Credit: Andrea Godinez/Burke Museum/University of Washington
All of the dinosaurs except the Triceratops will be prepared in the Burke Museums fossil preparation lab this fall and winter season. The Triceratops fossil stays on the website since the dig group continued to find more and more bones while excavating and needs an additional field season to excavate any more bones that may be connected to the surrounding rock. The team plans to finish excavation in the summertime of 2022.
Called the “Flyby Trike” in honor of the rancher who initially recognized the dinosaur while he was flying his plane over his cattle ranch, the group has revealed this dinosaurs frill, horn bones, private rib bones, lower jaw, teeth and the occipital condyle bone– nicknamed the “trailer drawback,” which is the ball on the back of the skull that connects to the neck vertebrae. The team estimates approximately 30% of this persons skull bones have actually been discovered to date, with more possible bones to be excavated next year.
A closeup view of the Flyby Trikes occipital condyle bone– nicknamed the “trailer drawback”– the ball on the back of the skull that links to neck vertebrae. Credit: Rachel Ormiston/Burke Museum/University of Washington
The Flyby Trike was discovered in solidified mud, with the bones spread on top of each other in manner ins which are various from the way the bones would be set out in a living animal. These clues suggest the dinosaur most likely passed away on a flood plain and then got blended together after its death by being walked around by a flood or river system, or potentially moved by a scavenger like a T. rex, before fossilizing. In addition, the Flyby Trike is among the last Triceratops living prior to the K-Pg mass termination. Burke paleontologists estimate it lived less than 300,000 years prior to the occasion.
” Previous to this years excavations, a part of the Flyby Trike frill and a brow horn were collected and consequently prepared by volunteer preparators in the fossil preparation lab. “The triangular bones along the frill, called epi occipitals, are totally merged and nearly unrecognizable on the specimen, as compared to the sharp, obvious triangular shape seen in younger individuals.
Kelsie Abrams, the Burke Museums paleontology preparation lab supervisor, opens the field coat of a theropod ilium. Credit: Timothy Kenney/Burke Museum/University of Washington
Amber and seed pods were likewise discovered with the Flyby Trike. These finds allow paleobotanists to identify what plants were living together with Triceratops, what the dinosaurs may have consumed, and what the general community resembled in Hell Creek leading up to the mass extinction event.
Not only can plant product inform us what these dinosaurs were possibly eating, but plants can more broadly inform us what their environment looked like,” said Paige Wilson, a UW graduate trainee in Earth and area sciences. Its interesting to see this brand-new material found so close to vertebrate fossils!”
Museum visitors can now see paleontologists get rid of rock from the very first of the 4 dinosaurs– the theropod hips– in the Burkes paleontology preparation laboratory. Extra fossils will be prepared in the upcoming weeks. All 4 dinosaurs will be kept in trust for the public on behalf of the Bureau of Land Management and end up being a part of the Burke Museums collections.
A group of University of Washington students, volunteers, and staff excavate the Flyby Trike Triceratops in northeastern Montana. Credit: Rachel Ormiston/Burke Museum/University of Washington
A team of paleontologists from the University of Washington and its Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture excavated 4 dinosaurs in northeastern Montana this summertime. All fossils will be brought back to the Burke Museum where the public can enjoy paleontologists get rid of the surrounding rock in the fossil preparation lab.
The four dinosaur fossils are: the ilium– or hip bones– of an ostrich-sized theropod, the group of meat-eating, two-legged dinosaurs that consists of Tyrannosaurus rex and raptors; the hips and legs of a duck-billed dinosaur; a hips, toe claw and limbs from another theropod that could be an unusual ostrich-mimic Anzu, or perhaps a brand-new species; and a Triceratops specimen including its skull and other fossilized bones. Three of the 4 dinosaurs were all discovered in close distance on Bureau of Land Management land that is presently leased to a rancher.
University of Washington paleontologist Kelsie Abrams takes a look at fossils from the Flyby Trike while excavating in northeastern Montana. Credit: Rachel Ormiston/Burke Museum/University of Washington
In July 2021, a group of volunteers, paleontology personnel, K-12 teachers who became part of the DIG Field School program and students from UW and other universities collaborated to excavate these dinosaurs. The fossils were discovered in the Hell Creek Formation, a geologic formation that dates from the most recent part of Cretaceous Period, 66 to 68 million years ago. Normal paleontological digs involve excavating one recognized fossil. However, the Hell Creek Project is an ongoing research collaboration of paleontologists from around the globe studying life right before, throughout and after the K-Pg mass termination event that killed off all dinosaurs other than birds. The Hell Creek Project is unique in that it is sampling all plant and animal life found throughout the rock development in an unbiased way.