Field of Science

"Fossil Time Capsules": Opening 70 Year Old Jackets of Triassic Fossils at the University of Texas at Austin

"The new quarry is looking damn good," wrote [paleontologist Grayson] Meade to his colleague Glen Evans in May 1940. "[W]e have found quite a portion of a partially articulated phytosaur skeleton. About four or five feet of the vertebrae are mostly in articulation. There are leg bones, some ribs, and the mandible. ? There is every indication that the skull should be there, and more of the skeleton. I didn't reach the end of it knowingly at any rate."

You can read the rest of this story here. There are dozens of unopened jackets of fossils collected in the late 1930s and early 40s in the basement of the Vertebrate Paleontology Lab at UT Austin.  I've previously published on some of the prepared material and it is all just spectacular.  These specimens are especially important because the Otis Chalk quarries are possibly older than any Chinle Formation exposures and might be giving us a unique view into latest Carnian or earliest Norian faunal assemblages in the western U.S. I cannot wait to see what the rest of those jackets hold!

Kudos to my friends and colleagues Michelle Stocker and Sterling Nesbitt for their opportunity to work on these fossils and at the original quarries.

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