2007 FIELD NOTES

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December 30, 2007, Sunday.
            Gretchen Gürtler and I just returned from a whirlwind post Christmas trip to the Big Bend. It was WAY too short. Leaving in the sparse dusting of snow the day after Christmas, we headed south. After a quick tour of Sul Ross State University, Alpine, and area, we went to Marfa. On the way back, we stopped and were lucky enough to see some of the Marfa Lights. 
            In Alpine I ran into a few old friends in the Railroad Blues: Tom Short, John Zubia, and Kurt Strapoli. Wanted to visit with Doc Mattison but didn't have time. It was the first time I had seen them in years.
            The next day we went down south to Study Butte and Terlingua. Later we went up river through Lajitas and on to Colorado Canyon. We then made a quick run through the Basin in the Chisos Mountains and the west side of Big Bend National Park. I was wanting to relocate an Eocene mammal jaw that a group of us discovered in 2000 so I could take a GPS reading of its location. That way I could notify someone interested in Tertiary mammals and a permit to collect in the Park. I could not relocate it. To the right is a photo of the jaw that I took back in 2000. I went ahead and took a GPS reading within meters of where it originally was found.
            That evening we caught Ken Barnes in Terlingua and he took us  through his Badlands Fossils museum/laboratory near Lajitas. It was very interesting seeing the mosasaur, hadrosaur, and Ptychodus material. 
            On the way home, we made a flying trip through the Davis Mountains. Now it is back to work.
A view of the west side of Big Bend National Park.
 
 
 
 

Eocene mammal jaw


December 23, 2007, Sunday.
            It has not been good since my last entry. I worked with the model (Dec. 7) at right who brought me the Castoroides jaw to identify. I was ill for about four days. Sunday (Dec. 9) was my first day of feeling back to normal. I did get quite a bit of writing done while lying on the floor in front of the television. Daytime TV is horrible, even with a satellite dish. All re-runs or telemarketing. 100 channels and nothing to watch, so it didn't distract from my writing and sleeping.
            Sunday (Dec. 9) I put together some more of my invertebrate collection to donate to the Museum. I "discovered" specimens I forgot that I had........ a series of articulated mosasaur vertebrae, a miocene whale tooth, an Enallaster with most of the spines intact, and some other neat stuff.
            Sunday, Dec. 15, Gretchen Gürtler and I spent the day preparing fossils. To the right is Gretchen working on her Paleorhinus skull.
Gretchen Gurtler preparing a Parasuchus skull.

November 25, 2007, Sunday.
            Today was the fourth day in a row that it snowed here. It pretty much melted as it snowed.
     I spent the holidays writing on papers. Today Gretchen Gürtler and I had breakfast and coffee before going to the Museum to work on fossils. Gretchen made a jacket for her Paleorhinus skull so that she can flip it tomorrow and begin preparing the other side. 
Gretchen Gurtler jacketing a Parasuchus phytosaur skull.

November 18, 2007, Sunday.
            Since my last entry, things have been extremely busy! Gretchen Gürtler was working so I took my daughter on the First Friday Art Trail. It was her first FFAT since moving back to Lubbock. She saw a number of artists and patrons that she hadn't seen in a while, and met a few more.
            Saturday (3rd) I had a nice, very long visit with Axel Hungerbühler about paleo, phytosaurs, and other stuff.
            Sunday (4th) was spent working preparing fossils and then at the museum. Gretchen. and I spent a lot of time talking about PaleorhinusPaleorhinus,Malerisaurus, other fossil vertebrates, and her upcoming term paper. 
            The week was extremely busy, but it doesn't seem like I got much accomplished. Saturday (10th) I took time to go on part of the Local Color Studio tour. Then, Sunday, Gretchen and I we went on more of the Local Color Studio tour.
            I have enjoyed the Invitational Chess Tournament they hosted at Texas Tech. Brought back some memories of when I played chess in college (as a freshman I played on the college team some). I even won in an exhibition tournament that year by defeating the reigning Texas state champion. Now I can't remember the last time I played. 
Ivory chess pieces

October 31, 2007, Wednesday.
            It has been a busy week. 
            Today the sky had not even started to lighten in the east as I left to meet Doug Cunningham. Doug and I headed south to photograph petroglyphs. A cold front blew in right behind us and it clouded over a bit. While waiting for the light to be right, I showed Doug the phytosaur skull and coracoid I found on August 24. As we left Doug found what appears to be the posterior portion of a skull (not phytosaur) that is going to have to be prepared to identify. Then we checked on the condition of three phytosaurs Doug had found previously. We didn't find much fossil material today. I went to photograph the petroglyphs while Doug did some reconnaissance for archeological sites. The beehive at the petroglyphs were very active and agitated. I am surprised that I made it through the day without getting stung. They were swarming all around me (especially my head), landing on me, and on my equipment. Not fun. I did watch a bird, that resembled a wren, eating the bees. That was very interesting,
            After I finished photographing the petroglyphs Doug found a couple of interesting aetosaur plates and I found a Chindesaurus proximal femur and a ? skull fragment (need prep). I did find a very nice dart point Doug identified as probably a Marcos point (see at right). It was pretty nice with only a minor fragment of the corner tang broken. It is about 4,500 years old. We scouted a couple of other areas for archeological sites and then returned to Lubbock.
Phytosaur skull
 
 

Marcos point found by Bill Mueller.


October 23, 2007, Tuesday.
            Last Tuesday was a gray, overcast day as I headed for Austin for the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology annual meeting. The trip down was an adventure; however, I made it and had an enjoyable evening and dinner with several friends. During the meeting I saw lots of friends, acquaintances, associates, colleagues, and fellow scientists ........ way too many to mention individually. It was nice to see all of them. I also met lots of people whom I had previously known only through reading their works. There were many good, very interesting posters and presentations; then there were a few that I disagreed with, but that is normal. There was a large quantity of research discussed, manuscripts planned, and two colleagues managed to write a paper during the meeting. It was a rare thing, but I did not make a single photograph during the entire week!
            I was pleased that Dr. Wann Langston was awarded the Romer-Simpson medal, the highest award for the SVP. I am privileged that my first vertebrate paleo excavation was with Dr. Langston in Big Bend National Park (along with Art Busbey and Bob Rainey). He is well deserving of the award for all the work he has done and all the paleontologists for whom he has been a mentor.
            Spent the last two days with a visiting researcher from Bristol, England. It gave me an opportunity to look at a lot more of our collection. I have a huge amount of work to get done in the next six days. 
Poster for 2007 annual SVP meeting
 
 
 
 

 


October 14, 2007, Sunday.
            Yesterday Gretchen Gürtler almost finished preparing the left side of her Paleorhinus skull. 
            Today, Gretchen and I made another leisurely start for the field. The morning was beautiful even though the wind was a bit brisk. Gretchen wanted to go back to her skull site and excavate the drainage below where the skull came out. She found several fragments from the skull, including the right quadrate. While she was working on that site, I went and checked out several others. The landowner had come by and visited with Gretchen. When I returned to where Gretchen was digging, I saw several cowboys and cowgirls on horseback. They were rounding up the cattle on the pasture. They herded one group of them close to our dig. One stopped and asked what we had found and then quickly rode on to keep the herd together.
            Gretchen kept digging. In the photo at right, the skull was found in the drainage on the right and the jaw was found in the drainage on the left. 
            I went to check a couple of other areas and eventually, I had some success and found a piece of a dicynodont squamosal. I am not changing my poster!
            We returned to Lubbock early so I could be there when my daughter arrived. She is moving back to Lubbock from Austin today.
Gretchen Gurtler at the site of her phytosaur, Paleorhinus, skull.

MOTT VPL 3869, Site XL


October 7, 2007, Sunday.
            This morning Gretchen Gürtler and I made another leisurely start for the field. It had rained at the locality since we were there in September. Gretchen wanted to go back to the place where she found part of a phytosaur skull in March that was in the next drainage from the phytosaur skull she found September 16. There was nothing exposed in that drainage in September; however, today she found some bone and began digging and uncovered a partial lower jaw of a phytosaur. We then checked several other localities with little results. Gretchen then uncovered a very distinct phytosaur quadrate that she, Francis Rivera, and Angela Coronado first found  in January, 2005 (see 2003-05 highlights). I then found a nice articulated digit of a very small reptile. I did get some geology work done today before we returned to Lubbock.
            Friday evening (Sept. 28) found me at the Howe House Soup and Champagne Supper "reprise". It was a very nice evening with many friends and acquaintances, especially the host, Dr. Isabelle Howe. I believe an good time was had by all and the privilege of listening to John Gillis and Lesley Dutton sing was very enjoyable. 
            Early last week I worked with a young lady. She brought several interesting fossils she found for me to identify. Two were common invertebrates; however, the other was an interesting vertebrate and I am still researching the identity. I can say what it is not ....... but not what it is. 
            Wednesday, my daughter, Meaghan, and I had a very nice lunch as she came in from Austin. We made plans for time together when I am at the SVP meeting in Austin. 
            It has been an amazingly hectic 10 days with students, volunteers, work, and everything else. The Society of Vertebrate Paleontology meeting will be a very busy week with lots of friends, acquaintances, and colleagues to visit; before, during, and after. We have much research to discuss and work on while we are together. It will be a very intense week........ and we might throw down a beer or two in the process. 
Gretchen Gurtler excavating a phytosaur jaw.
Gretchen excavating a phytosaur
jaw.
 
 

Gretchen Gurtler excavating a phytosaur quadrate.
Gretchen excavating a phytosaur
quadrate.


September 16, 2007, Sunday.
            The week was busy. Lots of fossils were prepared, lots of photography done, and much, much more to do. Sunrise Saturday found me working on a manuscript. I did take time off for lunch. Several interns from Taiwan invited me to lunch. It was a beautifully prepared, diverse, excellent meal of Chinese foods that tasted excellent. Two were the young ladies I carried to the field on June 24. I enjoyed lunch very much.
            Today, Gretchen Gürtler and I made a leisurely start, leaving for my research area about 8 am. I hadn't been there since June 24, so we had high expectations after all of the rains. There had been a lot of erosion. We went to Site XXXV to check for dicynodont material but found nothing. Gretchen wanted to head east to an area that typically produces very little but where she had found some specimens. I went to check another dicynodont site. I found nothing again and began to work my way over to Gretchen. She found some phytosaur skull fragments and began to dig. She found a relatively small squamosal and quite a bit of fragmentary skull material. Then she began to uncover some intact bone. She ended up with a partial skull that is completely intact on the exposed side from the antorbital fenestra forward. It appears to be of the genus Paleorhinus. The buried side looks like it may be more complete. While it was drying, we searched the other sites. I did find some fragments of dicynodont skull at Site XXIII At other sites it was disappointing after so much rain to find so little. I found two Trilophosaurus jaw fragments, a complete Malerisaurus femur, and a few articulated vertebrae. Not much. We saw more live reptiles, like the Greater Earless Lizard (Cophosaurus texanus), than fossil ones. 
Gretchen Gurtler with her Paleorhinus skull.

Greater earless lizard photo by Bill Mueller

Fossil vertebrae


September 7, 2007, Friday.
            It was an interesting week in the lab. In preparing some fossil material I exposed a very interesting poposaurid posterior iliac blade that I collected in May. Also some Trilophosaurus material from very high in the Dockum that Doug Cunningham collected. These elements, along with the Chindesaurus vertebrae, etc., has made it an interesting week. As usual, more questions than answers.

September 3, 2007, Monday.
            Last week was hectic with classes at Texas Tech beginning, getting back from extended time in the field, and getting back on schedule. 
            Mid-week found me visiting with good friends, Joe and Eddie Jo Miller. The following morning I photographed some of the wild turkeys near their house before heading south to do more photography. Then it was back to the grind.
            I spent a lot of the weekend preparing specimens we collected in August and catching up on work. The scutes (see Aug, 16, 24) do appear to belong to a species of Paratypothorax. The distal end of the femur exhibits what appear to be some tooth marks also. The series of smaller, associated vertebrae (Aug. 24) appear to be those of Chindesaurus.  I prepared another very interesting small vertebra Gretchen Gürtler and I collected last fall from the Tecovas Formation that has very deep pleurocoels and some other interesting features. 
            Tomorrow I hang photographs with the Caprock Photographers for our exhibit at the Lubbock Garden & Arts Center.
Young wild turkey tom.

August 24, 2007, Friday
            I stopped by Wednesday to check on another phytosaur skull Doug found. It was the anterior portion, so I collected it. The light was still not at a good angle when I arrived at the archeology site, so I recovered the phytosaur femur I found August 17. I photographed the archeology site until the angle of the lighting became poor. Then I went to the badlands off of the escarpment to the west. 
            I found very little but Antediplodon clams until I was about ready to give up. I spotted a lenticular deposit that looked like it might make a good micro-fossil sample for a colleague. When I reached the deposit, I saw quite a bit of bone exposed. I found the neural arch and spine of a large vertebra, and several smaller, associated vertebrae, various other bones & vertebrae, and another "exploded" phytosaur skull.
           The next morning started beautifully as you can see to the right. I showed what I had found to Doug and then we went over for me to photograph the field crew at another archeology site. I then returned and removed some 11 vertebrae and a skull fragment. I finished photographing the main archeology site. Later that evening, Doug and I went and recovered the aetosaur femur (see Aug. 17) and the associated paramedian plates. The plates belong to either Paratypothorax or the new taxon Jeff Martz is describing. I have to get it to the lab and prep it to be able to identify it. Doug also recovered a lateral scute also.
            Friday I found another "exploded" phytosaur skull, a phytosaur coracoid, and parts of three bison. I also collected several invertebrate species including a nice vinegaroon this week.
            I have to spend the weekend catching up on work before classes start on Monday!

 
 

Vertebral neural arch with 10cm unit scale bar.

Sunrise at camp.

"Office" view on Thursday morning.

Doug digging out an aetosaur femur.
 


August 17, 2007, Friday.
            The majority of the week was spent on the archeology project. The first day I was there this week, Doug Cunningham carried me over to show me where a Cenozoic lake deposit was found. Doug said he was "hot" that day. We were driving and he stopped to look a a potential site and found the 10,000 year old Plainview point on the far right in less than two minutes (his third point for the day). We also collected a phytosaur ischium at another locality. The next spot we stopped we found some phytosaur scutes and a weathered partial ilium. 
            The next stop was a hit. Doug had said that he was smokin' hot that day. He stopped to look for some Potter quartzite, I stepped out onto rib & vertebral fragments and an ilium. While I was excavating it, Doug walked over and found an "exploded" phytosaur skull. Then he found another weathered, complete phytosaur skull, and then a phytosaur lower jaw. Then he found a large aetosaur femur (top right) with several paramedian plates (Paratypothorax ?). There were numerous fragmentary elements scattered across the site. Then Doug found a diamond blade (in hand at right). When you are hot, you are hot!
           Today, I had been assisting with the archeological survey of the area while waiting for the light to be right for my photography (that never happened). After that, I examined another locality and, among  fragmentary elements of phytosaur ilium, pubis, ischia, ribs, and other bones, I found a nice, complete phytosaur femur (lower right). I also amassed a representative sample of nice Antediplodon specimens.
Large aetosaur femur Doug Cunningham found.

Large diamond blade that Doug found.

Agate point that Doug found.

Phytosaur femur I found.

August 9, 2007, Thursday.
            The week has been busy with the CHM project. I got a lot of work completed and also enjoyed my time in the field, although it was hot. 
            Sunday I found two more quadratojugals belonging to the procolophonid Libognathus. I also found a Shuvosaurus vertebra at the locality. That will provide a bit more information for the revision of my manuscript.
            Wildlife in the field has been prolific. To the right is one of the rattlesnakes I've seen. I also saw a Prairie Ringneck Snake and Western Coachwhip, but didn't get photos. Birds were also abundant with over 40 species identified during the past seven days. 
            I found a few neat artifacts like the biface at right. It was interesting photographing the rock art.
Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

biface tool


August 5, 2007, Sunday.
            The sunrise was beautiful as I headed south last Wednesday. It wasn't that hot but it was extremely humid in the field. When the breeze wasn't blowing, it was like a sauna. It was very interesting as I scouted out my job. It is going to be less work than what I expected. It was nice in the field. I saw audad sheep, coyotes, black vultures, and many other animals, birds, and reptiles. Humidity and rain has made the project a bit uncomfortable. Lightning behind the mesa from Wednesday night is as right.
            My photography was exhibited at the Hard Tops Gallery  for the First Friday Art Trail. It was so crowded during the early part of the exhibit that it was difficult to make your way through the gallery.
Lightning behind the mesa.

July 31, 2007, Tuesday.
            Last week was a wild, crazy, and frustrating week. I spent half the week waiting on someone else to show up and do their job so I could do mine. Then it seemed like when one person  needed something, half a dozen people needed something. One student was laughing Thursday afternoon about how it seemed like everyone was needing me to do something at the same time. Hey, it kept the day from being boring. I did get to visit with another photographer I have known for a long time, shooting some advertising photos. The waiting threw me quite a ways behind in my work, especially with the upcoming project starting next Wednesday.
            Today, I hung my photography at the Hard Tops Gallery  for the First Friday Art Trail. It should be a very nice exhibit with a number of photographers. 
            I did make it to Tuesday Night Life Drawing tonight, despite everything I needed to do. It was a very nice evening, dinner on the patio at the lake, and a model  that did an excellent job even though it was her first time to model for a life drawing group. 
            To the right is a view from what will be my "office" tomorrow.
View from my "office" for next week.

July 22, 2007, Sunday.
            The past two weeks have been busy, getting photos ready for a new book. The publisher's deadline is July 31. I have been matting and framing my images for an upcoming exhibit at the Hard Tops Gallery for the First Friday Art Trail on August 3. 
            Thursday was a scouting trip to get an overview of a photographic project I have coming up in August. It is going to be a hot, extensive project. We saw a variety of wildlife. Black vultures, scaled quail, and numerous other bird species.
            At right is a stereophotograph of a trilobite I am donating to the invertebrate collection in the NSRL. The image is also for a short article on Matthew Brown's website www.fossilprep.org.
Stereophotograph of a trilobite

June 24, 2007, Sunday.
            It has been a very busy week. Photographed many of my dicynodont elements so Künstler can work on the drawings for me. Trying to finish a couple of manuscripts and get some work done on my dissertation. 
            Went to my research area today. First time since May 13th that it has been dry enough to get in. Found one of the missing fragments of the dicynodont scapula I found March 18. Yu-Ju, Yi-Ting, and I found some of the typical material: TrilophosaurusMalerisaurus,metoposauridae, and phytosauridae. I found a large Trilophosaurus ilium and pubis at Site V. At Site III, I found a series of 6 or 7 Trilophosaurus vertebrae and a Trilophosaurus ungula. At Site IV, I found a neat astragalus and several tiny phalanges. We went to the field early and left the field before noon. 
Yu-Ju and Yi-Ting collecting an ilium and pubis.

June 19, 2007, Tuesday.
            Finished the Antarctic fossil bird meeting on Monday two weeks ago. All together, I shot 873 photographs between Thursday and Monday morning! 
June 3, 2007, Sunday.
            West Texas weather!!! It continues. Rain, rain, and more rain. My photo shoot on the caprock Thursday was canceled due to the wet conditions and rains. My research area has received rain on five straight days.
            Enjoyed working with a new model Tuesday evening. She did nice for her first time modeling. I look forward to working with her again.
            Lots of photography this week. Thursday I photographed 270 individual bugs, a dinosaur premaxilla, some dicynodont fossils, and a number of antique hats. Friday I photographed another dinosaur premaxilla, several dinosauromoph femora and tibias, some aetosaur fossils, and an Antarctic fossil bird. I did carry part of the Antarctic fossil bird researchers out to the First Friday Art Trail. Saturday I shot a couple of images for the "One moment" exhibit (see right), another specimen of fossil bird from Antarctica, and a number of photos of the group studying the Antarctic fossil birds. Sunday, I shot some images of Polarornis, another Antarctic fossil bird. 
Hallway at 7am

Lotus blossom


May 27, 2007, Sunday.
            It has still been raining off and on, here and there. Off the caprock it is amazing how lush and green the countryside is now. Flowers are blooming everywhere.
            The "final" report on the 2nd International Mosasaur Meeting has been posted on the internet along with photos.
           I spent most of the weekend working with two visiting professors researching conchostracans. We worked in the museum's collections and then today, in the field. We went to one of our localities to collect in the Tecovas Formation of the Dockum Group (Triassic). It rained in Lubbock last night but was dry at the locality. We found lots of reptiles today. The one at top-right was the first of eight rattlesnakes we encountered in the field today (along with a nice sized centipede). We didn't find many vertebrate fossils since we spent most of our time looking for conchostracans. We found a nice plant fossil layer and they found a few conchostracans in it. I collected a sub-adult phytosaur squamosal (Leptosuchus), a small metoposaur clavicle (see lower right, tool is about 15 cm long), and an aetosaur lateral scute (possibly Tecovasuchus). All in all, not a bad day.
            As I have said before, life is like Jimmy Buffett's songs. Changes in latitudes, changes in attitudes, nothing remains the same. Sometimes changes are gradual, sometimes they are abrupt.
The first of eight Western Diambondback Rattlesnakes we encountered today on the locality.

A small metoposaur clavicle that I found.


May 23, 2007, Wednesday.
            It has been a very busy week, including activity on the website. Lots of paleontology inquiries this week. I don't know if it has anything to do with the "Global Triassic" conference or not. It has been beautiful, but a bit breezy in West Texas this week.
           Today, Gretchen Gürtler and I went out to the mosasaur locality to see the recent finds by the farmer after the spring rains. He collected three fragmentary rudistids. Caprinids. He has an excellent eye and has not collected anything that wasn't a fossil. The rudists fit with the time period for the ammonites that Gretchen found (Mortoniceras). I found a very small piece of an ammonite fragment with the siphuncle preserved (Gretchen holding at lower right) but was not diagnostic. 
Gretchen Gurtler examining an ammonite fragment Billl Mueller found.

May 13, 2007, Sunday.
            Last Wednesday, Michelle Stocker and Sterling Nesbitt came through Lubbock and borrowed a few specimens from the Museum. It was nice to see them, after all, we haven't seen them since April 23rd!
            The rains were relentless the first few days after Gretchen and I returned from the Mosasaur Meeting at the Sternberg Museum. My research area has received over 4 inches of rain in the last week.
            I prepared my abstract for SVP on our new dicynodont material from Texas. Should be good. Would be great if I were a better speaker but I suck at public speaking. If we were in a bar........ however, at a podium, in front of more than a half-dozen people ... I am petrified (appropriate term for a fear-stricken geologist!). 
            Saturday I went to the field by myself. I found a wide variety of material that had washed out with the recent rains. It was still wet and with all the rain and erosion, I was disappointed I really didn't find more material. There were a lot of mushrooms popping out. I found 5-6 articulated vertebrae belonging to Atanssov's taxon, a Trilophosaurus jaw fragment, a tiny astragalus, and a sweet crocodylomorph femur. Not a bad day, but could have been better.
            Künstler did me a favor and processed my film for the World Wide Pinhole Photography Day and we finally got our images submitted. Mine can be viewed in the Gallery. Now I have to prepare for an exhibit in August and then another in September.
Bill Mueller photograph of mushrooms.

May 8, 2007, Tuesday.
            Gretchen Gürtler and I spent last week at the 2nd Mosasaur Meeting at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, Kansas. Kind of wild. First, we spotted a funnel cloud dropping out of a wall cloud just east of Canyon, Texas, as we headed north. Then, we turned north at Greensburg, Kansas, on Wednesday on our way to Hays and a tornado wiped out Greensburg on Friday. 
           ; The meeting was excellent, well organized, and Gretchen and I learned a great deal about mosasaurs. There were a wide variety of excellent papers presented ranging from early collecting in Kansas, to systematics, to bone histology. Our "host", Mike Everhart (and his people at the Sternberg Museum) did an excellent job, were very courteous, and did whatever they could to accommodate everyone's needs. It was nice to see some friends, acquaintances, meet new people, and have some interesting discussions.
            Sunday's field trip started out in rains that threatened to make nothing but a bus ride out of the field trip. When we reached the badland area it was dry enough that the 21 participants could hike in to the area from the main road. It turned out the day was great; overcast, cool, and no rain. A few sharks teeth, a few mosasaur vertebrae, and quite a few fish vertebrae and fin spines were found. Gretchen found about 15 articulated caudal vertebrae from the fish Enchodus (see top-right), a few Gillicus vertebrae, and an interesting fish palate. I found a couple of Gillicus vertebrae. 
Bill Mueller photo of Gretchen Gurtler with articulated series of Enchodus fish vertebrae.

Bill Mueller photograph of Gretchen Gurtler on an outcrop.


April 25, 2007, Wednesday.
            Next week is going to be busier. Sunday is WorldWide Pinhole Photography Day. I have two models to photograph and still want to try and get by my research area also.
            I have been catching up on things after Sterling and Michelle's visit. Trying to get some more fossils sorted and identified. It was surprising how many dinosauromorph and crocodylomorph elements Sterling identified in our collection. Today I examined a very interesting proximal femur (Archosauromorpha) that I collected last Saturday.
            Today, Gretchen Gürtler and I returned to the mosasaur locality. Gretchen found a nice piece of an Early Cretaceous ammonite that shows the suture pattern. I found a couple of pretty crummy pieces also. We shot some photos of the site for the mosasaur conference.  The farmer found a couple of more pieces of what he believes is bone after the last rains. Gretchen and I have to meet with him sometime in the next week to see what he found. 
Bill Mueller photo of Gretchen Gurtler with another Early Cretaceous ammonite fragment from the mosasaur locality.

April 22, 2007, Sunday.
            Spent much of the week working with Triassic vert paleo researchers Sterling Nesbitt and Michelle Stocker. It was a good week. Sterling found some of the material we had been collecting recently somewhat interesting. We have some pretty cool stuff, maybe not as cool as some of the material Sterling has been coming up with; but pretty cool. Doug Cunningham, Gretchen Gürtler, Jeff Martz, Sterling Nesbitt, Michelle Stocker, and I spent the day in the field Saturday. We found some very interesting small stuff and a variety of larger material. Doug found a phytosaur jaw, Gretchen found a neat tiny ilium, Michelle found a dart point, Sterling found a series of articulated caudal vertebrae that are continuing into the hillside. Jeff found an aetosaur scute that may help his research and I found some of my usual little stuff. It was a beautiful day in the field. The evening at "Camp Doug" was very nice and Doug's burgers with the "flavor crystals" were excellent. The lightning show at the end of the evening wasn't bad either; however, the people who were wiped out by the tornados in the storms probably didn't feel the same way. 
            Sunday was spent finishing up working on fossils with Sterling and Michelle. Then I went to the Lubbock Arts Festival to pick up my photograph from the Invitational Gallery and visit with friends before returning home to work on manuscripts. 
Gretchen Gurtler, Michelle Stocker, and Doug Cunningham collecting fossil vertebrates at Headquarters North in the Triassic Dockum Group.


Bill Mueller, Gretchen Gürtler, Michelle Stocker, Sterling Nesbit, Jeff Martz, and Doug Cunningham at "Camp Doug" after a day in the field collecting Triassic vertebrate fossils.

April 11, 2007, Wednesday.
            West Texas weather!!! Freezing and snow on Sunday, Tuesday was 80 F and a sandstorm, today was beautiful. Now they are forecasting possible thunderstorms tomorrow; Friday is near hurricane force winds (65 mph+) and blowing dust.
            Tonight, Gretchen Gürtler and I worked on the mosasaur project, trying to finish up the details on that before heading for the Second (International) Mosasaur Meeting. I finished the first stage of making a storage jacket for a Leptosuchus skull over the weekend. This morning before I went to work I sorted some very interesting astragali, some Trilophosaurus scapulae, and numerous other elements from my research area.
            I was also reminded today about my donation of my extant echinoderm collection. I need to get it all put together. Just another project to get done. 

April 8, 2007, Sunday.
            Another wild week of West Texas weather with freezing rain and snow this weekend. 
            I have been sorting and cataloguing lots of fossils this week. The taxa include all the usual suspects: Osteichthyes, Coelacanthidae, Metoposauridae, Apachesaurus, Koskinonodon,Dicynodontidae, Malerisaurus, Drepanosauridae, Trilophosaurus, Phytosauridae, Stagonolepididae, Rauisuchidae, Shuvosaurus, Sphenosuchidae, and a number of elements whose taxa are unknown to me.
            I have to get my photograph ready for the Invitational Exhibit at the Lubbock Arts Festival in two weeks and I have to help Künstler get some artwork done. 
Snow on the patio.

March 18, 2007, Sunday.
            Tuesday bore good news as I received a thin section slide of the mosasaur matrix that contained some microfossils. Now to get them identified. Meaghan came over for dinner Tuesday and that was nice because I haven't seen her in a while.
            Wednesday, Gretchen Gürtler came over and we updated details on the mosasaur paper, "fine tuned" it and the abstract for submission to the Second International Mosasaur Meeting in May at the Sternberg Museum in Hays, Kansas. 
            Thursday we made a quick trip to the field to check out a couple of leads that Gretchen had developed on some outcrops, but they didn't provide answers to any our questions. The abstract was submitted Thursday and is already raising some eyebrows! 
            Friday and Saturday were spent doing paperwork, preparing fossils, writing on various manuscripts, and working on my dissertation.
            Sunday morning was beautiful as Gretchen Gürtler and I left early for my research area. The sun was rising through the haze and fog as we made our way south. What a difference a week makes! (And several inches of rain!) The first discovery for the day was when I found a dicynodont ilium. While Gretchen excavated the ilium (top right), I made the 1/2 mile trek back to the vehicle to get material to jacket the ilium. Two thirds of the way back, I discovered a dicynodont scapula and coracoids! After getting the supplies, I was about 50 meters from Gretchen when I found part of the distal end of a dicynodont humerus! 
            While letting things dry on the ilium, we went to check out other sites. I had another good photo of Gretchen covering a phytosaur femur for later recovery (hey, there are three of her already and even though I agree that she is a beautiful subject.... we do need to show something besides mein liebchen Gretchen). We collected elements from some of the "usual suspects": phytosaurs, KoskinonodonTrilophosaurus,  and a tiny jaw. The jaw (seen at right) is a dentary of Trilophosaurusbuettneri.
            We collected the ilium (top-middle right) and then went to collect the scapula. On the way, Gretchen found some Triassic charcoal near one of the fossil trees. First charcoal from the locality. Then we recovered the almost complete dicynodont scapula, pre-coracoid, and coracoid. WAY KEWL!!!
            Now I have a number of changes and additions to make to my dicynodont paper that WAS almost ready to submit. For those of you who are not familiar, no dicynodonts have ever been formally described from the Triassic of Texas, and these three elements make over 20 elements from five different localities that we have (over half of those elements I found. Go figure!). There have been references to the material included in our manuscript by a couple of authors; however, the references were vague, basically just saying the elements existed. The material our manuscript is describing includes a partial skull I found  and post-crania that represents a new genus and species of dicynodont. 
            When we were almost back to the vehicle, we found a phytosaur braincase (Gretchen, bottom right). It was a long day by the time we returned home, but it was a VERY GOOD day. And now they are forecasting 3-5 inches of rain for my research area this week. 
            If we get the rains, next weekend may be good also!
Gretchen Gurtler excavating a dicynodont ilium Bill Mueller discovered in the Triassic Dockum Group of West Texas.
Gretchen excavating a dicynodont ilium.

Bill Mueller & Gretchen Gurtler removing the dicynodont ilium from the Dockum Group of northwest Texas.
Bill & Gretchen removing the dicynodont ilium from the Dockum Group in north-west Texas.
 

Tiny jaw of a Triassic reptile from the Dockum Group of West Texas, discovered by Bill Mueller.
Trilophosaurus dentary
 

Gretchen Gurtler recovering a phytosaur braincase discovered in the Dockum Group of the Triassic of West Texas by Bill Mueller.
Gretchen recovering a phytosaur braincase.


March 10, 2007, Saturday.
            Late in the week, I spent some time with Jeff Martz showing him a lot of the small vertebrate material, the dicynodonts, and going over the  identifications for his dissertation.
            Saturday was off to a lazy start as Gretchen Gürtler and I headed for Post to examine my research area. It was a beautiful morning to be in the field though. The find of the day was also the first find. I found a dicynodont vertebra. To the right is Gretchen taking a GPS reading for the vertebra. Gretchen was concentrating her efforts on finding more metoposaur material. She found several interclavicles that were too far gone to save. She did find one tiny reptile jaw that I have yet to identify. There had been a lot of rain since we last searched the area. It is hard to believe we haven't been there since October 22. The mosasaur project, going to the field with Jeff Martz, and the winter weather this year have detracted from field work at 3869. 
            To the right is Gretchen showing me an unusual tooth she found. I have to prep another specimen, but I believe she also found a Trilophosaurus jaw fragment. She also found a "really kewl" ilium. She even recognized it as Anuran (unfortunately it was extant, not Triassic). We spent Saturday evening working on the mosasaur project since the submission deadline is Thursday.
Gretchen Gurtler taking a GPS reading for a dicynodont vertebra that Bill Mueller found.


Gretchen Gurtler showing Bill Mueller an unusual Triassic tooth she found.

March 4, 2007, Sunday.
            The paleontologic detective work from last week has been concluded with results that I am confident with; however, they did not provide the answers we needed. Saturday I extracted and shipped out a couple of samples from the neural arches of the mosasaur vertebrae for palynologic analysis. I don't have much hope for resolving our problem after examining the limestone under the microscope. 
            I am putting together some new images for the website. They should be up before too long.
Great Horned Owl fledglings on their first day out of the nest.

February 25, 2007, Sunday.
            Yesterday, Doug Cunningham, Jeff Martz, and I went down to a couple of paleo localities at Post. After showing Jeff where one of the Trilophosaurus dornorum localities was, Doug showed Jeff where a conglomerate was that contained mostly quartz clasts. We finally located the "Tree" locality, that was made more difficult due to the blowing dust obscuring landmarks. The winds were up to almost hurricane force (70 mph) on the Caprock. US Hwy 84 and Texas Highway 380 were shut down for a while outside Post due to zero visibility with the blowing dust See photo at upper right). Tumbleweeds were tumbling everywhere. We shut down early and went back to Camp DC for lunch. It officially snowed (REDDISH-BROWN SNOW) in Lubbock earlier today before reaching 58 degrees. One local meteorologist called it snust (snow & dust).
            Today Gretchen Gürtler, Jeff Martz, and I went out with the Problems in Stratigraphy class with Dr. Holterhoff. It was a beautiful day, especially compared to yesterday. We went to the northern edge of Caprock Canyons State Park on the road cut east of Silverton. It was nice to go back to the Caprock Canyons area. It has been too long since I have been there. 
            After the field trip and a quick tour through Caprock Canyons State Park, Gretchen and I stopped back by the mosasaur locality to examine the site for more evidence. Yesterday, getting ready to prepare a couple of limestone samples for microfossil analysis, I realized one of the samples Gretchen collected on February 9 was part of an ammonite. A Mortoniceras!! The nice weather allowed us to get some geology done at the site. I think we solved one problem and created another.
View of blowing dust at locality 3878.
View from locality 3878 about 10 am.

Jeff Martz photo of Gretchen & Bill at the Caprock Canyons roadcut
Gretchen and Bill at the Caprock Canyons roadcut.
 


February 9, 2007, Saturday.
            The week has been very busy. Photography, art, paleontology, and a bit of social life. It has been busy. Last night was the third night in a row I was up until at least 2:00 am. That has been tough on me. 
            I did enjoy a beautiful afternoon at the Lubbock Lake Landmark doing some photography earlier in the week. 
            The weather hasn't cooperated again, but at least it was better than yesterday. It allowed Gretchen Gürtler (at right) and I to go to the field today to check on the mosasaur locality. It was cold, 37 degrees while we were in the field. It was still too wet to dig, but we got to canvas the area where the mosasaur vertebrae were found. I collected a couple of limestone samples for microfossil analysis. Then we went over to a playa lake to look for a Cretaceous outcrop there. 
Gretchen Gurtler searching the area near the mosasaur locality. Photo by Bill Mueller

January 28, 2007, Sunday.
            Saturday was a cold, windy, dreary morning as Jeff Martz took Dr. Tom Lehman and me out to several outcrops in his dissertation area. We examined several interesting outcrops and saw some very interesting geology. I found a couple of phytosaur tooth fragments in the Santa Rosa Formation below the dam at Lake Alan Henry.
            I got to spend some time with a photographer/artist friend this weekend also. We spent time looking at each others portfolios/prints and discussing various art projects. It was very nice.
            Today I spent time at the library researching literature on some of the museum's collection. Speaking of collections, Jean has had my echinoderm collection on display and let me know she had taken it out of the drawers and packed it for me. Some very interesting specimens: Cidaris blakei, Stylocidaris affinis, Toxopneuestes roseaus, Gogia palmeri, Isorophurella incondita, Promopalaeaster solitarius, and and then the more common: Delocrinus abruptus, Globator parryi, Pedinopsis symmetrica, and some 100 other species in the collection.
A view of the Triassic Santa Rosa Formation.

January 21, 2007, Sunday.
            Well the greatly hyped "Lubbock blizzard of '07" was pretty much a bust. We got a little ice and a few inches of snow over the weekend. I spent the weekend working on research and manuscripts. Two weeks in a row we have had ice and snow. Not nearly as bad here as other places in Texas. 
            It is going to be another busy week. I have a lot of photography to do. I am looking forward to going to the field next Saturday also. It has been too long.
Horse skull in ice and snow.
January 5, 2007, Thursday.
            Another candle and the beginning of the next trip around the sun. Sometimes you just wonder where the trip is going to take you along the way. May you all have the best trip of your lives!
            It has been a busy week and next week is going to be busier. 

A belated Happy New Years to everyone.

another candle

December 31, 2006, Sunday.
           This year gone by ain’t been a piece of cake.  .....just another candle and a trip around the sun. (from a Jimmy Buffett song)I made it through December but did suffer a few hits. 
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There’s one thing I’ve learned from all this living ... it wouldn’t change a thing if I let go. 

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