Cretaceous Dinosaur Fossils from the Bliss Ranch
In the summer of 2003, Frank and Chris Bliss discovered our first fossil producing sandgravel bed from the Hell Creek Formation which is uppermost Cretaceous (65 million years old). The whole ranch has parts of this formation exposed on it and various sections have amazing fossils within. The hard work of course is getting them out of the ground intact and in good shape. The 3 inch hand claw from a carnivorous theropod dinosaur probably Saurornitholestes sp.) to the left is one of the last fossils to come out of the ground during the 2003 summer field season. Our ranch has several types of fossil deposits from thickly packed bone deposits to unsorted stream bed load deposits (microsites) that contain numerous types for fossils from the last of the dinosaur era. The following pages have numerous photo’s of just a few of the many thousands of fossils we have discovered here.
I have a Masters Degree in Geology and a BS in GeoBiology and have been a field paleontologist starting in 1980. By paying my dues and walking many hillsides, so far, two large bone sites and 15 productive microsites have been located within 3 miles of our ranch headquarters. We have had many dozens of “dino” interested visitors to date to the ranch including college academic groups, school groups, boy scouts and 4H groups that have really enjoyed the location. I will periodically update this site so check back for updated images. By the way, I do not allow unattended collecting (trespassing) on my ranch and any such tresspassing individuals will be dealt with just within the limits of the law.
If you want to participate in my excavations, I am now scheduling limited stays at our Bed and Breakfast.
Contact me at [email protected] if you like to be professionally outfitted for a personalized dinosaur dig. Brand new, very nice private guest quarters await you on our dinosaur dude ranch. I am doing this on a very limited basis and it is a very high end, exclusive paleontologic experience. The food is excellent, the beds comfortable, and the activities are unobtainable elsewhere with your family and myself one on one for the stay. We are a licensed, inspected Bed and Breakfast facility in the state of Wyoming.
This rib is from Triceratops. It came from a site that I found a few years ago that we are just now starting to work. The site this bone came from apparently has several animals present as a bundle of smaller ribs has also presented itself this summer for our future enjoyment. It will take years to get these animals out but the dig is becoming to get organized with the overburden already being attacked by some local volunteers. This particular animal will end up in a Wyoming museum. Numerous ribs, several large limb bones, a lower right jaw, a vert and other bones have been either collected or are still in the outcrop. The other animal that is presenting itself is probably a hadrosaur. The bed containing these bones is at least 4 feet thick and so far seems to have bones across a 30 foot section of outcrop.
This is a T-rex tooth that was one of the first fossils to come out during the spring of 2005. I literally walked up to an outcrop, took three wacks with my pick at a likely spot to see what was there. And tink, I shattered this into a hundred pieces. After a few hour of screening the sand for any pieces and an evening with paleobond and a little paleo putty (epoxy), this reassembled etched tooth was the result. Interestingly, not much else came out of that particular sand lense “microsite”.
The result of a hundred man hours of work is required to work a ball of bones (packed solid) out of the outcrop. This pile of vertebra from our tric site has at least three vertebra inside and on top. The rest of the animal is diving into the outcrop to the upper left. We had to remove the ribs from the previous picture in order to be able to reduce the blocks size to a managable weight. As it is, it took 6 men to get it up the hill (after it was covered by plaster of course). It weighed in at 350 pounds.
These are triceratops ribs from one of our sites. This partially articulated animal will keep up busy for many years to come.
Chirostenotes juvinile foot claw from site 2. Scale is in inches. (everyone likes the claws, me included!)
Pachycephalosaur tooth perhaps a Stegoceras tooth (scale in mm). These seem to be uncommonn to find. This particular specimen has part of the root on it. We have found literally thousand of fossils at this site. Most of the teeth though belong to Triceratops (pictured below and right).
Very rare 3 molar and 2 premolar therian mammal jaw. Cretaceous mammals are very very uncommon. The small size of this specimen would indicate a mouse sized individual. The total length is 14 millimeters. We have found several of these at site 2 with others at other sites. Several individual molars while have been found while sieving sand. Remember that mammals were just starting to evolve and were generally hiding from the larger dinosaurs that were trying to eat them. We have lots of work here for an ambitious graduate student as there are truck loads of sand to sieve. This and another were taken in about one hour of sieving at my site 2.
Here are some bones from a crocodile and a Champsosaurus (crocodile like). These are hollow in the interior. There are perhaps two dozen partial bones similar to the above that are not quite perfect in the collection as of this writing. Some have evidence of predation on them. Scale is in both inches and centimeters.
Triceratops tooth with both roots attached. I actually have better than this and literally hundreds of shed (spitter) teeth. The shed triceratops teeth are the most common tooth at my sites. Scale is in both inches and centimeters. Birooted complete teeth like this are quite rare.
Here is a nice selection of carnivore teeth. The grid squares are an inch on side. Nanotyrannus, several different Dromaosaurs, Crocodile and others are pictured.
Here is a nice collection of some of the smaller dino teeth that come out of my microsites. Note the tooth on the upper right still in the matrix from my site 7. The grid scale is in inches.
Here is a scaled composite photo (photoshop) which shows all the Cretaceous mammal teeth collected this summer from ant hills on my ranch. Harvester ants that build on Hell Creek Microsites collect any small thing they can carry to build their mounds. Several of my microsites are quite literally world class in their productivity. This collection is already in repository and is no longer at my ranch though new pieces are coming off all the time.