Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Brains, Master ... Brains!

This post is about all our braincases. Braincases have to be the most complicated 'single' bones we have found - they have very complex shapes. And we have lots of them - 8 of them, complete or in parts! Considering that no other Thalattosaur braincases have been found / or are inaccessible, I'd say that is really crazy, even for Bernie!

So overall we have 8 braincases or parts of braincases. Six contain enough of the structure for us to be sure they are unique. Two are fragments that apparently don't fit on any of the other larger parts, so I'm confident that they represent unique individuals as well. Given that we also have bones from a vey small individual and a bone from a very large individual, this brings us up to a total of 10 individuals in this find!

Here are pictures of the braincases I have copies of. Two of the original braincases were sent to Alaska before I got a chance to scan them, so I don't have the files to print 3D copies. The two fragments are at the lower left. And the grey one on the lower right is the latest one that I've just finished preparing.

 The 'braincases' actually don't enclose the whole brain - only part of it. The rest nestles up against the roof of the skull and between the eyes. So remember - when you are ever attacked by a Komodo Dragon or Thalattosaur, a sharp stick sideways through the eye, brain, and out the other eye is the way to kill them!
Here is a short video about preparing the braincase. Sincerely, Greg Carr

Here a couple of highlight pictures to show where braincases fit into the skulls. The backbones attach to the skull at the Occipital Condyle, with the hole for the spinal cord just above. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A box of bones off to Alaska - and yet another Braincase

Work at the prep lab at OMSI continued this fall. I was teaching a lot, so I could only work at OMSI one day a week. I began to take the prep work 'home' to finish up the bones. In November I was lucky enough to get a lightly-used PaloTools #1 air scribe for a good discount from someone selling it on Ebay. Tools from PaleoTools almost never come up on Ebay - everyone keeps using them, I guess.
I have also gone back into the inventory at the OMSI display case to ship a set of neural arches up to Alaska. They generally have small delicate psrts to them if they weren't broken during fossilization. Some of them I had to finish up with the PaleoTool#1 as it is more delicate than the ones we have at OMSI.

So here are the pictures: A set of 3 centrums plus a Radius ( so I've been told) on the block being removed.

And here it the Box 'O Bones I'll be sending to Alaska - 4 centrums, 8 neural arches, one Radius, and one more skull fragment. This skull fragment, like many others, is from around the Pineal gland / brain area. This must be a particularily tough piece of the skull as we have 4 fragments that contain that section.

Last of all, I am currently working on yet another Braincase - this makes Six (6)!
You can't really tell from the photos, but it is broken through the main body and there is only about 1/3 - 1/4 of the case left. . That's OK as it will let me prep  the brain mold internals plus all available nerve passages. The brown object is a life-size 3D print of one of the complete braincases. Very complex bones!

Sincerely, Greg Carr