The Bliss Ranches “Horn Sieve Site”
Claws, Toenails and Horns of ANY Dinosaurian Species are rarities in and of themselves. They are not making any more of them. Finding an important fossil is often a bucket list item and here is my bucket.
I’ve been collecting fossils on this ranch since 2001. I’ve worked various other fossiliferous sites which are also still producing fossils here for years finding many important things. In 2016 after everybody cleared out from the Wyoming Tactical Rifle Championship in early July, I got serious and opened up a new small quarry on some beds I first started working in 2002. They had always had good quantities of the 65 million year old Hell Creek Formation’s famous dinosaurian fossils. I found the site covering ground on foot (which is how you do it). There were vertebra (centrums) and other indications of fossils laying in the grass. Hard to miss, you just have to want to get some exercise walking really big country and looking at every square inch carefully and systematically with a trained eye.
Hell Creek Formation is a 700 feet thick sequence of sands, muds and lake deposits from massive dumping of sediments by a huge system of rivers draining big mountains a few hundred miles to our west (now gone from being eroded away) toward the epicontinental ocean that was to our east at the time. It was the end of the dinosaur rule with sediments a mile or so away recording the demise of their time on earth. Only the bird lineage survives to today.
Bear with me while I get into some basic geology/sedimentology of the “Horn Sieve Beds”.
The rock deposit I am working is roughly 150 feet long and 4 feet thick at it’s thickest thinning left and right but extending back into the hillside an unknown distance. It is on my private deeded land. The location is underlain by at least 6 feet of slick grey mud river bottom that had a layer of mixed debris slathered on top by the pretty big water current flowing above. Somehow this was the final deposit preserved till the present because it wasn’t destroyed by a later meander of the huge river system but quickly covered and removed from Oxygen. The bones were preserved. It was exposed at the surface and I walked by at the same point in history.