Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Return to the Caribbean side of Panama

As part of the PCP-PIRE we not only get to look for fossils and study the geology of Panama along the canal. We also get to prospect and collect at other localities. Yesterday, we made the two hour drive to the Caribbean side of the country, where late Miocene marine units are exposed along the beach. If this sounds familiar, is because I had been there a couple of years ago, where, as part of the Pyenson Lab we went to collect a really nice fossil dolphin skull.

On our way to the locality we had to go through the Gatún Lock, and wait for several ships to go through before we could cross.
Going to this locality means we have to really plan ahead, as the late Miocene deposits will be best exposed at low tides. That also means that we only have about a four hour window to prospect and collect.
As the water recedes, the rock is exposed and its time to prospect!!
Ideally, we can find and collect specimens on a single day (within that 4 hour window), others may take longer, and require to return to the site one or more additional days.

Here Samantha and Pedro work on a project they stated with Aaron several months ago, excavating a large whale skull.
We worked two sites simultaneously this day. Pedro, Samantha and Erik continued an excavation they started several months ago with Aaron. They are digging around what seems to be a large whale skull. Nicole and I were about 15-20 meters southwest of where they were. We were busy digging what seems to be part of yet another whale skull. The skull seems to be broken or at least there's a skull and postcranial elements associated with it, so we collected these in two jackets (see picture below).

Here we take a break and have some snacks and talk with the local kids while the two small plaster jackets (center of the pictures) dry out so we can remove them and take them back to the lab.
We'll go back today to finish off the large whale skull, and who knows what else we'll find. So stay tuned!


Bienteveo said...

Nice work,nice views, nice job.

Verla said...

This is cool!