20 February 2009

weekly update: back to basics

It has been one heck of a week here at Rancho La Brea; we were on almost every local news channel, the LA Times, the NY Times, the Brisbane Times, and even a couple papers from Norway ("We can not so many of these, such as deer to tigers sword" indeed!). In light of this newfound limelight (and in light of the exponential increase of blog subscribers!) I want to take a minute to get back to basics.

So for those just joining us: I'm Andie, and I work here, along with lead excavator Kristen Brown, fellow full-time excavator and lone male Ryan Long, and part-time excavators Michelle Tabencki and Laura Tewksbury. Project 23's intial beginnings are described in this blog post and many others found on this site. To date, we've excavated at least 700 fossils (and calculated a minimum number of individual animals of at least 2 dozen). Current tally includes at least:
-3 saber-tooth cats
-1 lynx
-1 North American lion
-6 dire wolves
-2 coyotes
-1 Harlan's Ground Sloth
-1 baby bison
-1 baby horse
-2 dwarf pronghorns
-LOTS of turtle
-at least 5 birds (including a teratorn!)
-LOTS of millipedes
-LOTS of oak leaves
and much much more

And our excavation site currently looks like this:

The three fossil deposits we're working on, from the visitors' perspective
If anyone reading this works in the Variety building, we really want to take pictures from your rooftop...

Deposit 1 (on the right) is the first one APRMI found during the salvage, the biggest box overall, and the first one we started digging in. Also, it looks like a pirate ship, which pleases us immensely.

The three fossil deposits we're working on, from the center of our compound

Deposit 10A (more lifeboat sized...) is also being actively worked on.

Box 10A
looks like Laura found a fossilized meter stick!

It hasn't yielded nearly as many fossils as Deposit 1, but did give us an interesting piece of turtle which might be new to Rancho La Brea, so that's pretty nifty.

Deposit 10b

Box 10B -- 10A's smaller, slouchier half -- is also being worked on, but can't be seen from the fence. Part of it collapsed while APRMI was boxing it up, however, so we're not taking as much locational data as we usually do.

The three fossil deposits we're working on, from the top of box 1

And finally, Box 5B. We just opened this one a couple weeks ago, mostly to get an idea of what our next area of focus will be when we finish the 10s. We won't actively begin excavation until they're done. However, we've already found some neat stuff in it...

A wasp nest
seriously: it is NOT A FOSSIL

...like this NOT FOSSIL wasp nest. It was on the side of the box under the tarp (again, NOT A FOSSIL). A neat instance of modern life co-existing (well, until the nest was abandoned..) with the extinct.

Andie talks to tourists

We continue to excavate 7 days a week (except for bank holidays and whatnot) and will happily talk to you if you stop by, provided we are not lunching, operating heavy machinery, or performing particularly delicate fossil extractions, and you do not try to throw things or yell rude questions (i.e. "Did you find my lost contact yet? Hyuk hyuk hyuk.") at us. We love our jobs, and love sharing our discoveries with you, and THANK YOU for your continued interest and support of natural sciences in general, and Project 23 in particular!

Additionally, there have been a number of questions posted as blog comments over the past week, which we'll answer ASAP. But as for now, we have some serious digging to do.


Cheryl said...

Oh, WOW! I am so excited to find your blog and the Page Museum's site. Thank you so very much for making this information available. As a life-long fossil freak, and now a homeschooling mom, I can't wait to share this with my child. I hope that one day the Tar Pits will be a major field trip for us -- the cross country trek would be well worth the opportunity to see these amazing finds in person. Thanks again for sharing your experiences and helping me introduce my kid to a subject near and dear to me. We'll be following your new posts (and catching up on the older ones)-- and I'll be digging vicariously!

Spencer said...

This is really exciting for people to finally notice us....

Very good post, good newbie intro/reader update all in one!


P.S. I didn't realize how faded my pants looked...and my shoes are dirty....

jschwell said...

hi guys,
i don't have any individual email so i hope you check these comments once in a while. it looks like you are making real progress! have you take any of the side boards off of box 1?
chicago is a great city. we had no idea how much there is to do here. public transit is a dream with subways, buses and elevated trains. i got all misty when we were going through the huge field museum and we got to the ice age paleontology room that is basically devoted to r.l.b..
ryan, the folks whose loft we are staying in have a collection of "metropolis" magazines from about 2000 to present. it is an architecture mag that has many articles about green roofs. you might want to google it and see if you can get to the archives.
if feels like we have been gone forever; but, i'll be back, hammer and chisel in hand, in two weeks. save a box for me.
your "wishing he was hitting his finger with a hammer" junior excavator,