Category Archives: Uncategorized

Fossil Friday – hadrosaur tibia


So far, most of the Late Cretaceous fossils I have shared with you for Fossil Friday have been from the Hell Creek Formation of Montana and were collected over a number of years by the late Harley Garbani. The Hell Creek dates to the very end of the age of dinosaurs, just before the mass extinction 66 million years ago.

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Fossil Friday – Coelacanth fossil

WSC Diplurus

In 1938, Marjorie Courtenay-Latimer, a naturalist at the East London Museum in South Africa, discovered a bizarre fish in a fisherman’s haul. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Palm Frond


I just returned from 18 days of field work in the Upper Cretaceous Menefee Formation of New Mexico. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Triceratops Teeth


Dinosaurs evolved many amazing and sophisticated adaptations during their long history. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Palm Leaf

The fossilized bones of dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals certainly hog the spotlight, and they are spectacular. But alongside the bones of giants such as Tyrannosaurus is a very different, much more abundant type of fossil: ancient plants. Paleobotany, the study of fossil plants, is a vital part of understanding Earth history. Fossil plants provide data on bygone environments, ecology, and climate.

This fossil is the impression of a 67-million-year-old palm leaf. It was found in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana by local fossil hunter Harley Garbani and donated to the Western Science Center by his wife, Mary. The living plant probably looked much like modern palm trees, and points to a much warmer climate in Montana during the Late Cretaceous Epoch than today. Next time you see a living palm tree swaying in the breeze, imagine a T. rex under it seeking shade from the midday sun.  

Post by Curator Dr. Andrew McDonald

Fossil Friday – vacation!

For the past week Brett and I have been in Seattle attending the 2017 meeting of the Geological Society of America, where we were presenting on the “Stepping out of the Past” and “Valley of the Mastodons” exhibits. The meeting ended Wednesday night, and we’re now taking a short vacation to see geological sites in the northwest. But today things took a slight detour. Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Bison humerus

This rather stout bone is one of our best-preserved bison humeri. This is the left humerus, shown above in anterior view. 

The distal end, at the elbow joint, is on the left, while the proximal end (shoulder joint) is on the right. Bison have a large knob of bone called the lateral tuberosity which is broken off of this specimen; it should be at located at the lower right. The darker lines and patches are sediment that has not yet been removed.  Continue reading

Fossil Friday – Annularia

 I’ve spent the last week trying to catch up on administrative work while pouring over all the data we gathered during our “Mastodons of Unusual Size” road trip. But after several weeks of almost all mastodons it gives me the chance to feature a different organism for Fossil Friday.  Continue reading

Fossil Friday – mastodon thoracic vertebra

As I’m in the middle of our Mastodons of Unusual Size data-collecting trip, my Fossil Friday post will have to be a short one. But, in keeping with our road trip topic, it will of course feature a mastodon! Continue reading

Fossil Friday – giant tortoise shell fragment

FullSizeRender 22When visitors get “behind the scene” tours of fossil repositories, they are often surprised at the spectacularly unimpressive appearance of some of the fossils. A lot of preserved fossil specimens may not be especially attractive to look at, but they can still provide important scientific information about particular anatomical features, the amount of variation present, or the presence of a particular organism in an ecosystem. Continue reading