Monday, 25 November 2013

Preparations continue for ETRW 2014

Preparations are continuing for the 2014 Field Season at Eric the Red West.
The crew list is close to being finalised.  We had more than 20 wonderful keen engaged applicants for new crew spots, and Lisa has succeeded in squeezing in one or two more than we had decided we could possibly fit!
Dave and Lisa are heading out to Bimbi Park this week to finalise the accommodation.
The organisers are busy reviewing all of the paperwork we need to make this all official such as field guidelines and risk assessments.
Pip will once again be camp chef next year, and is busy planning all sorts of yummy, cheap and filling food for more than 20 people a day.
Dave and Lesley are reviewing equipment, making sure all the chisels are sharp machinery serviced.

... it's going to be fun.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Our footprints on Bush Telegraph

Dr Tony Martin talks about our amazing bird and dino footprints on ABC's Bush Telegraph:
Tony comes on just after the 28 minute mark.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Rookies Day

Gerry and Chloe
Joerg and Adam
John and Jeffrey
Victoria and Darren
Monique and Peggy
Tamara and Livvi
Nova and Fotini
Lisa, Mike, Amber and Chantelle
Mel and Sue
Maddy, Rohan, Lauren and Anant
Corrie and Jane
Bryan and Mary
Dave and John

Rookies Day bones

Mel finds a bone
Adam finds a bone
Mel finds another bone
Wendy finds a tooth
Chloe finds a bone

Saturday, 9 November 2013

2014 Rookies

This weekend we will visit Flat Rocks with more than 20 new volunteer applicants for the 2014 dig season.  We'll put them through their paces, showing them how to tell the spot bone in the rock, carry equipment up and down the stairs, move rocks and bucket water.  I'm not sure whether we'll do the traditional dig-a-big-hole-in-the-sand or not; that skill is far more useful at Flat Rocks than Eric the Red West.  It will be a fun but full-on day. We may even find some good fossils.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Important Dates - 2014 Field Season

Rookies' training day - Sunday November 10th
Eric the Red West dig - Saturday February 1st to Saturday February 22nd
Friends' Day at Flat Rocks - Sunday March 23rd

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Dinosaur Cove bird footprints.

A new paper on the footprints that Sean and Alan found at Dinosaur Cove has been published by Tony Martin et al in the journal Palaeontology.  Here are some links:
Tony's blog entry.
Tony is from Emory University in Atlanta - here's their press release.
And some technically minded will want to read the actual paper.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Bird Tracks from Dinosaur Cove

Finally!  Dr Tony Martin et al have announced that the footprints that Sean and Alan found at Dinosaur Cove in 2010 may be Australia's oldest bird tracks.  Check it out at ABC Science Show.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

2013 Field Report back cover

Back cover
Here's the back cover of the 2013 Dinosaur Dreaming Field Report.  It features the covers of 20 years of Field Reports all the way back to 1993/4.  Field Reports up to 2008 are online at Monash University.
A number of artists have generously allowed us to use their work on our covers including Peter Trusler and Brian Choo.
The first Field Report was 14 pages long and covered a long dig at Dinosaur Cove as well as the first dig at Flat Rocks.
Our new report is 72 pages in full colour and features 25 individual contributors.
In 2009 Alanna created a new template that has allowed us volunteers to do a professional-looking layout ourselves.
Crew and Friends (not a Friend, join here) can pick up their copy of the 2013 Field Report at the Report Day at Melbourne Museum on 12 October, or will receive one in the post in the coming weeks.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

2013 Field Report

2013 Field Report
Here's a sneak peek at the cover of the 2013 Dinosaur Dreaming Field Report.  It features images of two sets of stamps 20 years apart - the 1993 Peter Trusler dinosaurs and the 2013 James Gurney dinosaurs (and one amphibian).  Images © Australian Postal Corporation.
Crew and Friends (not a Friend, join here) can pick up their copy from the Report Day at Melbourne Museum on 12 October, or will receive one in the post in the coming weeks.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Palaeo Barbie circa 2000

In the early 2000s, Palaeo Barbie was a regular crew member. Unwilling to be a mere participant, she loved spending time in 'The Hole'. Sometimes we had to leave her there overnight searching for one more dinosaur bone. She emerged slightly darker than when she went in...

Monday, 30 September 2013

Jeremy Burton is a Dad!

Jeremy and Jack
Jack Edward Burton was born on 21st September 2013 to Jeremy and Jess.  Jeremy was a Dinosaur Dreamer in the 2002 to 2004, 2006 to 2009, and 2013 Field Seasons.

Congratulations and best wishes to the new little family.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Yesterday at the Australian Synchrotron

The team
A group of happy Dinosaur Dreamers met at the Australian Synchrotron yesterday to celebrate the release of "Australia's Age of Dinosaurs" - the latest issue of Australia Post stamps. One of the highlights (besides the stamps themselves, of course), was a short video made by Joe Burgess and starring David Pickering that showed the time-lapse preparation of Noddy (the articulated ornithopod dinosaur). And Noddy itself was on display, carefully chauffeured from the museum in the back of Dave's car. Thanks to Nicole for the photo.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Dinosaur stamps are here

Australia Post has issued a set of dinosaur stamps for Stamp Collecting Month.  Twenty years after the iconic 1993 stamps by artist Peter Trusler, James Gurney has produced a stunning release:

Saturday, 21 September 2013

School Holiday Program

Once again Mike Cleeland is running the Steps of the Dinosaurs school holiday program at Flat Rocks.  Check it out at

Thursday, 19 September 2013

New Dinosaur Stamps to be released 24th September

Next Tuesday (14th September) sees the release of a new stamp issue - "Australia's Age of Dinosaurs". These stamps (actually 5 dinosaurs and one amphibian) were drawn by Dinosauria artist James Gurney, with scientific advice from Tom Rich. This release comes 20 years after Australia Post's first set of Dinosaur Stamps, release in 1993 and drawn by Peter Trusler. Exciting!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Dragging drums

Gerry in 2000
Gerry removing drums after dismantling "the System" in 2000. This was before I joined the dig, but I understand that dozens of these plastic drums were transported to site to support the construction of "the System", a mechanism to reduce the enormous amount of sand that we had to remove when our hole got deep.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Raising the flag on Flat Rocks

In the 2000 Field Season, the crew captures Prep Rock and proudly raises the flag of our sponsor, the National Geographic Society.

Friday, 13 September 2013

The System

The System
Tide coming in
Lesley has written a great Field Report article about this history of the System - and found some great old photos of tubs and tarps and mesh and girders.  These photos are fairly late in the evolution of The System - 2001 or 2002 I think.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

How Safety Standards have changed since we started...

The site
This one is interesting, and probably from the mid-nineties.  I think that's Mike Cleeland putting up a piece of string safety barrier after the rock-sawing has already started.  And the guy rock-sawing is standing over a large hammer wearing runners, no dust mask and quite possibly no eye protection. Just as well they put a safety cone up on the other side.  Unless that's the fuel funnel sitting on a drum of petrol.  Perhaps it is better we don't think about it.
Check out Nicole in the lawn chair in the background, and the bunch of diggers standing around in the background with cups of tea.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

About 2000?

I love this one - Nicole talking to a couple of passers-by or Friends (in matching purple pullovers).  They appear to be absolutely focused on whatever she is pointing at.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Another old photo

Mary and Alanna
I've pegged this one as 2004.
Love the "Where's Wally?" hat that Mary found.
And of course, regular crew will recognise the knobbly knees in the foreground.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Cocktail dresses and Power Tools

Cocktail dresses and power tools
Probably 2003 or 2004.  I'm looking for a better quality snap of this event for the 20th Anniversary Field Report.  Does anyone have one?

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Archives circa 2004

Dave, Rohan and Mike
Guitar playing was and still is a common occurrence on the dig, as is having a beer after work.  The outfits are a bit more unusual.  Especially Mike's.
The presence of a single "bridal table" rock-breaking station points to about 2004.

Friday, 6 September 2013

Another old photo

I'm not sure when this was taken or who these three are.  I do like the idea of making our new recruits wear L plates though.  Maybe until they find their first fossil or have carried the jackhammer up the stairs?

Another from the archives

Corrie, a hat, a hammer and a rock
This one might have been taken in 2000. Apparently back then we used to ham it up for the camera on slow fossil-finding days...

Thursday, 5 September 2013

One from the archives...

Andre Coffa, Scott Handsacker, and Mark Lockhart manhandle Doris
Over the next while, I thought I might share with you some of the old photos that I am finding as we look for fun things to include in the 20th Anniversary Field Report.  We think that this was taken in 1996 or 1997.  Note Doris' complete lack of concern, Andre smiling at the camera rather than focusing on not dropping her, and Lesley's (possibly disapproving?) stance in the background.
Doris assures me that her friends did not drop her (and hence are still around to tell the story).

Monday, 26 August 2013

Dates for the 2014 Field Season

We've locked in some dates for the 2014 Field Season:
Rookies' briefing at Melbourne Museum on Saturday 12 October
Rookie's training day on Sunday 10 November.
Eric the Red West from 1 - 22 February.
We'll run a Friends' Day at Flat rocks after the ETRW dig - more details later.

Saturday, 17 August 2013


Remember the ornithopod jaws that Mary and Sharyn found at Eric the Red West this year?  Dave has let slip that these are actually maxillae (that is, upper teeth rows not lower).  As Dr Tom Rich keeps telling us, because they are a weaker bone, maxillae are a lot rarer than mandibles (lower jaws) - in fact, it is not unusual to find 20 mandibles preserved for every maxilla.  So once again, our Eric the Red West site has yielded the unexpected.

Friday, 16 August 2013

2014 Field Season speculations

I popped into the Museum yesterday to pick up some old photos that might be fun to put in the 2013 Field Report. Whilst I was there, I had a cup of tea with Dave and Lesley and some of the other DD crew. We still have not locked in dates for the 2014 Field Season.
Most likely outcome - we will run a Rookies' training day at Flat Rocks in November or so, a 2 or 3 week dig at Eric the Red West in February, and Friend's Day at Flat Rocks in March. Eric the Red West is not accessible enough for it to be a good Friend's day venue, and just a little too far away for it to be a good Rookies' day site.
There are two things that are really preventing us from locking things in: Museum Victoria is planning to relate the Vertebrate Palaeontology collection from under the Royal Exhibition Building to within the Melbourne Museum building (Dave would need to oversee that rather than run a dig), and funding could still magically appear for the Koonwarra dig by 2014 (which could be an eight week dig and cancel other plans).
So watch this space - I'll post dates as soon as I can.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Dinosaur stamps

I managed to get a sneak peek at the "Prestige booklet" that Dr Tom Rich has been working on for the Australia Post dinosaur stamps due out later this year. It looks awesome! Diggers and regular readers of this blog may even recognise a few of the people in it. Sorry this post is somewhat of a teaser - I'll link to the Aussie Post website as soon as they publish images.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Pulling out Sea Spurge at Crayfish Bay

Friends of Otway National Park at work
Pip waving at the camera while pulling out Sea Spurge at Crayfish Bay (next beach along from the Eric the Red West dinosaur site) this morning, on a working bee with Mike and Cate Cousland and the Friends of Otway National Park.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Sharyn's art show

Sharyn Madder (who has dug with us since 2009) is showing her amazing art at Cambridge Studio Gallery from August 7th to 24th.  Opening drinks are on Saturday August 10th.  Check it out!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Two short films

Joe and a short-faced kangaroo
 On Friday night two short films by Dinosaur Dreaming Diggers screened at the Brunswick St Gallery.
Joe Burgess, who dug with us this year, presented an early cut of the "Australian Megafauna Project".  I had not realised it involved life-sized models.  These interact with our modern urban environment between shots of scientists (including Erich Fitzgerald and David Pickering) showing us the bones that remain.  It's hard to explain. Go see it next time it screens.
David Hocking dug with us from 2007 to 2009 and is a PhD candidate in palaeontology.  You may remember his video on Leopard Seals.  David presented "Life on the Rocks" a short film about the fur seals that he has been studying.  These live off the coast of Phillip Island.  The film includes a scene where a juvenile seal is caught in order to remove the fishing net caught around his neck, and some footage of a mother seal greeting her pup.  Perhaps David will post it on-line.  I'll let you know if he does.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

ABC Gippsland coverage of our plesiosaur tooth

Click here to see the ABC coverage of our big plesiosaur tooth, including some audio from Dr Erick Fitzgerald from Museum Victoria:
Thanks Mike for finding the story.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Lock in Saturday 12th October.

Field Report Day will be Saturday 12th October at the Melbourne Museum.  More details will be available to crew and Friends (Not a Friend of Dinosaur Dreaming? Join here.) closer to the date.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

A new paper on one of our plesiosaur teeth

Dr Roger Benson from University of Cambridge, who dug with us in the Otways in March 2011, has (in conjunction with Dr Erich Fitzgerald, Dr Tom Rich and Professor Pat Vickers-Rich) published a paper about our freshwater plesiosaurian in Alcheringa: An Australasian Journal of Palaeontology.

If you find the paper abstract a little technical, Travis Park (who has dug with us since 2010) explains what it's all about in his blogozoic post.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Field Report Day

Planning has started for Field Report Day where we show off fossil finds to Friends (not a Friend? Join here) and Crew.  It is most likely going to be Saturday 12 October at the Melbourne Museum.  Friends and Crew will recieve their invitations once we have confirmed the date.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

20th Anniversary Field Report

Planning has started on the 20th Anniversary Dinosaur Dreaming Field Report.  We're searching old photos and looking through the archives, to bring you some stories of way back when.  Hopefully I'll find some cool stuff whilst searching that I can share on this blog.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

2014 Field Season

The 2014 Field Victorian Cretaceous Field Season could well be a single 3-week dig at the Eric the Red West (ETRW) site in the Otway formation.  This site yielded two ornithopod jaws in an 8-day dig last season (thanks to Mary and Sharyn!). In previous years Mary found a mammal jaw, Alanna found what Dr Rich tells us are two partial upper teeth (and to an expert like him apparently that's obvious), and Cate found her first ever tooth,  And of course, the partial ornithopod skeleton that started it all.
We do not think that we will be running Flat Rocks in 2014, and the Koonwarra dig is such a large logistical project that it's too early to tell whether it will be 2014 or 2015.
ETRW is much less accessible and much more difficult to find than the Flat Rocks site, so over the winter we will put some thought into a practical way to run our annual "Friends Day".  Once we figure that out, Gerry will be in contact with the Friends.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Steve Broady's bone

A couple of weeks ago Mike Cleeland dropped off a fossil bone, found by Steve Broady at Eagle's Nest, near Inverloch. The bone was obviously crushed and a little distorted but after preparation it became clear that it is a metatarsal (a bone in the foot) of a dinosaur. It is probably the second metatarsal from the right foot of an ornithopod dinosaur. It measures approximately 13cms in length, which means it is larger than the metatarsals preserved in the three partial ornithopod skeletons from the Otway Group.

It will make an excellent addition to the dinosaur Collection at Museum Victoria. Well done Steve.
Ornithopod metatarsal found by Steve Broady at Eagle's Nest

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Some finds at Eagles Nest

A couple of weeks ago a team led by Mike Cleeland collected four bones from Eagles Nest. One of them was this interesting limb bone from near "Lesleys Lair" that Steve Broady found.  It appears to be crushed along its length, which may be an indication of a theropod.  They collected most of it, and went back for the rest on this Saturday 18th May, plus one other small platy bone.
Steve Broady's bone

Pip found this interesting specimen in two parts from an erratic west of Eagles Nest.
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth is included in recognition of Pip's British heritage.

Saturday, 11 May 2013


For many years, Mike Cleeland has been delighting young visitors to the Flat Rocks site with his famous searches for dinosaur remains, both during the dig and more recently through the Bunurong Environment Centre.
Most trips, at least one visitor finds a dinosaur bone, and a couple of others isolated, rounded stones in the conglomerate.  For many years, Mike has speculated that these may be gastroliths (stomach stones).  Recently he stumbled across a University of California Museum of Palaeontology (UCMP) article that summarises the current thinking.  There is still no evidence that small-bodied ornithopods or toothed theropods used gastroliths.  Of course, nothing says that they couldn't have...
So I reckon Mike's going to keep sending young visitors home with a gastrolith and encouraging them to learn a bit more science.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Koonwarra 2014

A larva (maybe caddis fly?) from
the 2013 Koonwarra dig
After the success of the Koonwarra dig this year (lots of fish found and the bedding planes turn out to be pretty straightforward), Dr Tom Rich and Prof Tim Flannery are proposing an eight week dig in 2014, after the Flat Rocks and Eric the Red West digs.  Since one of the largest expenses is the bulldozer to expose the site and fill it in again, this would allow lots of detailed dinosaur (and mammal, I guess) hunting between bulldozer time.  And they'd need a crew of 20 volunteers at any time, which may mean more than 100 people involved over the course of the dig.  Of course, all of this is very preliminary - there's funding and permits and logistics to figure out before this becomes a reality - any of which could delay or derail it.  I expect that Tom will tell us all more on Field Report day, including what opportunities exist for past and present Dinosaur Dreaming volunteers to become involved.
It's pretty exciting...

Friday, 3 May 2013

From Peggy

Dave at the microscope
Peggy sent me a few of the photos that she took in the back yard at Cape Paterson this year.

Wendy and Jodi kicking back
No idea what I'm doing with my hands

Eve, Pip and Sauvignon Blanc

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Koonwarra 24 April

Mike and Pip happy to be
digging on their Anniversary
Prof Tim Flannery shows off
his fossil fish
Tim's Fish
Darren Bellingham has sent me a few photos that he took whilst visiting the Koonwarra dig on Wednesday. Enjoy!

Fish head