Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Eyes bigger than a Tennis Ball !

The skull preparation is nearing an end. I think I've only got about 20 hours to go. However I have to leave off preparing it for three weeks while I work on some houses and go fossil hunting for two weeks in the Wallowa mountains.

It is clear now that the rear opening is the orbit ( where the eye goes). It is very smooth inside and of considerable size. The front opening is the naris, which the animal breathed through. The breathing opening is quite large - perhaps the animal had large lungs for deep diving. This might also explain the large eyes. Deep diving requires large eyes to see prey and predators. As I remove excess matrix the skull is getting even more light and fragile, but is very elegant. I understand that this is the first 3D Thalattosaur skull ever found, and one of the very few of any kind from the Triassic.

So here is the inside of the skull. You can see the remnant of the palate just at the lower side of the naris, going back to the orbit.  We have a part of the palate with teeth, but I think it's from the other side of the skull. The sutures between the various bones are very clear here on the inside of the skull. In addition, some of the holes where nerves or blood vessels pass through the bones are also visible on close inspection.

 Here's the skull with a tennis ball in the orbit. It fits easily - the eyeball was larger than a tennis ball!

 Last, I don't remember if I've previously posted this. Here is the skull with the large break across the nose corrected . The nose droops even more than at present due to an existing offset. I intend to remove the nose, remove all excess matrix, and repair the nose so it looks like this picture (but with all the excess matrix removed, of course).  I'll be away for 3 weeks so the next post will probably be a month off.

By the way, if you are in the Portland Metro area on August 9th check out the NARG group's Fossil Festival at the Rice NW Museum of Rocks and Minerals, It is free, and a lot of fun. Bring the kids!
Sincerely, Greg Carr

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