PaleoAngola Field Season 2011 Entry 3

July 17. Another week in palaeontological paradise.





Saturday and Sunday we hauled out the blocks containing the fossils... and by "we", I mean

the helpers we hired to carry them out of the canyon and to the beach, to be loaded into

the waiting Toyoata Landcruiser.





It is truly an incredible haul. Contained in about 27 blocks, we have at least four partial whale skulls,

vertebrae, ribs, girdle and limb elements.  As previously mentioned, we also have what is probably a

complete crocodylian skull including lower jaws and some postcrania, but it is still largely contained

within the rock.


Most of the specimens are encased in rock, and only their odd shape or a broken edge reveals the

bones inside. These will be shipped to our laboratory in Dallas where they will be prepared for study

by removing the rock, either mechanicaly or with acid.



One of the whale skulls came out of the ground in almost perfectly prepared condition, rock only

covering small portions of the bones.  Louis and I have been cleaning it and collecting data on it

before we encase it in plaster bandages for transport.



One of the remarkable things about this fossil is the presence of at least two fish fossils  preserved

in its blow-hole!!! You can see the backbone and skull of one in the top right and center portions

of the picture and the scaled body of a second one in the lower right.  They must have been living

within the voids of the skull on the bottom of the ocean, only to be buried and preserved within

their home.

 

We found an additional locality on Friday which has whale bones preserved in beach boulders... Much

the same mode of preservation as the canyon locality, what appears to be a hard-ground, but the

inverterate fossils are different and may indicate we are looking at another slice of time. We made a

small collection at low tide, but will need to leave this locality for another field season.

 

Ocatavio Mateus and Kalunga Lima will join us tomorrow and the four of us will then head south to meet

up with Anne Schulp on Thursday in Lubango.  More to come...