Bizarre Prehistoric Beasts – Day 2

Today at camp we learned all about creepy creatures of the Mesozoic Era, including dinosaurs, swimming and flying reptiles, and other amphibians and lizards that thrived at this time.

We started the afternoon with another mock dig site, this time of a Metoposaur–a giant salamander-like creature from the Triassic!

Measuring the length of the skeleton

How long is the body?

Measuring the disarticulated leg...

Next, we were fortunate enough to have the Assistant Curator of Paleontology, Bill Mueller, show us around the Fossil Prep lab at the Museum!

Bill showing us some Texas geology

Pointing out some current paleo. projects in the lab

Preparing fossils require extreme patience

The sandbox is a great space for holding fossils with wet glue

Which is the original, which is the cast?

An airscribe is used to remove rock from the fossil

Not all fossils are large, some are teeny, tiny!

We headed back to the classroom to review the Geologic Time Scale to learn about the Mesozoic Era.

Hmm... Helicoprion belongs in which Era?

Working together to put fossils with their correct time period

Then, it was important to learn the differences between true dinosaurs, swimming reptiles, and flying reptiles (Pterosaurs are NOT dinosaurs!)

Is this a true dinosaur?

Dinosaurs don't have flippers, either!

Next, we went to check out some dinosaur skeletons in the Changing World gallery. Which dinosaur do you think is the most bizarre?

What do you notice about the skull of Triceratops?

Can you see the chevrons?

Passing around the metoposaur interclavicle (cool!)

How is Chasmosaurus different than Triceratops?

Finally, we finished up by learning how fossil casts are made using molds and plaster. We mixed up our own plaster to pour into T. rex tooth molds!

Mixing the plaster in the water

Make sure you pour plaster into the water, not vice versa!

Carefully pouring the plaster

Once the plaster feels like pancake batter, that means it's ready to pour

Carefully filling the tooth molds...

We will let our T. rex teeth dry overnight and learn how to paint them to mimic real fossils!  We learned a lot about new dinosaurs, and even new non-dinosaurs, today, and we’ll unveil even more bizarre prehistoric creatures tomorrow!