Friday, July 11, 2014

CRETACEOUS SUMMER 2014: Welcome to Montana and Ichnology through Shared Eyes! (blog #1)

TEPEE AT CAMP MAKELA. The beauties of paleontology, and in the case of my Chiboogamoo (aka Tony Martin)--ichnology--are the open skies, days out in the field and being present for sunsets in summer skies. (photo by Anthony Martin)
Hallelujah for this amazing and intriguing EARTH! Hallelujah for scientists and those who can "read" the rocks and explore the layers of existence for all of us. Let's celebrate paleontology! Let's celebrate big sky country, Montana! 
TWO MEDICINE FORMATION, THE OUTCROP. Here it is! Land rich with fossils, waiting to be read by paleontologists and one dynamo Ichnologist, Tony Martin. (photo by Anthony Martin)
My darling husband sent me numerous photos from his field site in Montana and this dispatch. Enjoy!

THE ICHNOLOGIST. Per my request, Tony Martin (author of Dinosaurs Without Bones:  posed for this photo to show how one happy ichnologist appears in the Montana sky country. (photo by Field Work Comrade)
Dispatch from TONY MARTIN from Camp Makela

Camp Makela - just west of Choteau, Montana - is the base camp for a dinosaur dig crew from June 28-July 31. I joined this crew late on Monday, July 7 and spent my first night in a tepee set up at the camp.

BASE CAMP MAKELA.  (photo by Anthony Martin)

My main reason for being here is to study the trace fossils in the Two Medicine Formation, which is a thick series of 75-million-year-old red-gray-white rocks that are world-famous for its dinosaur nests. This is where Jack Horner and his friend Bob Makela (namesake of the camp) started discovering nests of the large dinosaur Maiasaura in the late 1970s, the first known dinosaur nests in North America. 

Later in the 1990s, David Varricchio found more dinosaur nests, but made by a smaller dinosaur, Troodon. Karen Chin also studied dinosaur coprolites here in the 1990s and 2000s, which held signs that dung beetles lived at the same time as the dinosaurs.

DAVID VARRICCHIO AND CREW. Digging at the Two Medicine Formation. (photo by Anthony Martin)

The trace fossils I’m studying are mostly of insects, especially cocoons and burrows, which are often closely associated with the nests. Most of the insects that made these cocoons were likely wasps, but others might have been beetles. My main goal is to see how these trace fossils show what the ecosystems were like here 75 million years ago: dinosaurs were not alone here, but lived and perhaps interacted with many other animals then.
FOSSIL COCOONS, MONTANA. Stay tuned for the ichnologist in my family to explain more about these in future blogs. (photo by Anthony Martin)
That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me and my Chiboogamoo about your love of the Earth, Science, and those who understand something about it! 
STAY TUNED FOR ANOTHER DAY OF ICHNOLOGY IN MONTANA. Tony and I promised to blog about his Montana fieldwork at the beginning of the summer as we asked you to help support our trip (see this blog) by buying our Cretaceous-themed artwork (Thank you! We raised enough dollars to buy the plane tickets and support cat care!) I will be joining my little Chiboogamoo in Montana on July 19th. Until then, I will be counting on his considerable story telling skills through photographs and words as expressed in his dispatch on today's blog. (photo by Anthony Martin)


  1. Thank you Ruth and Tony for letting me enjoy your trip to Montana in this way...I have traveled through that part of the country so many times yet never knew what wonders were waiting to be discovered. We stopped to see the dinosaur monument one time and I felt so honored to be able to actually touch such ancient artifacts...Looking forward to many more wonderful reports on this trip out west.

  2. You both are a BLESSING to the EARTH!

  3. Just crossed paths with your Chiboogamoo, and I look forward to our paths crossing soon too!

  4. I resonant fully with your : Hallelujah for this amazing and intriguing EARTH! Hallelujah for scientists and those who can "read" the rocks and explore the layers of existence for all of us. Let's celebrate paleontology!
    Celebrate and listen and learn from them, Gaia, Mother Earth needs our attention so I really adore knowing that you and Tony and others are spending this time in Montana doing just that. Glad you keep us posted and on the adventure with you.