Monday, 19 December 2011

Lisa's MV blog

Lisa Nink has put together a lovely Museum Victoria blog on how we find fossils in the field.  Check it out at:

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


Gerry grinning
Gerry looks very pleased with his find at Eric the Red West.  We're waiting for Dave to check it out back at the museum, but we are about due for another mammal jaw....

Again thanks to Lisa for capturing the moment so well!

Eric the Red Field Crew

Tom Astrid Gerry Lesley Travis Sarah Erich Mary Dean Dave
The intrepid crew sets out for a day of digging at Eric the Red West, prepared for any sort of weather.

Thanks to Lisa for the photo.

Monday, 28 November 2011

A weekend at Eric the Red: 25-27 November 2011

We didn't exactly pick the best weekend to spend on the exposed south coast of Victoria. The weather forecast was rain and more rain. However, we are a tough bunch and a bit of rain wasn't going to deter us.
We rendezvoused at Bimbi Caravan Park, near Cape Otway, (a must for koala lovers) on Friday night and made plans for the next day. Saturday dawned grey but no rain. We were hopeful. We got down to the Eric the Red site - still no rain.
The first thing we noticed was the lack of sand, which usually covers most of the shore platform. On this particular morning its absence gave us our first view of the entire fossil layer and its extent. On previous visits to the site, we had glimpsed areas of conglomerate exposed between patches of sand and were unsure of its extent. Now we could see all the layers and we immediately started searching the newly exposed conglomerate for exposed bones.
We were rewarded with the discovery of six exposed bones, weathering on the surface of the shore platform - one in the area where the partial dinosaur skeleton was found six years ago and five bones in the newly exposed area. It was a great start to the weekend and we talked excitedly about future work at the site.
Then the rain came. It started as a drizzle and built up to a miserable drenching downpour. We toughed it out until lunchtime, but then admitted defeat when it became increasingly difficult to tell the difference between the bones and coal in the conglomerate.
Sadly we walked away from our potential bonanza, vowing to return the next day, weather permitting.
The afternoon passed slowly, with wistful faces watching the rain fall. However, the rain eased over night and Sunday morning was grey but dry. Back to Eric the Red, where David Pickering wanted to sample a number of sections along the length of the exposure. Three areas were chosen and a small amount of rock was collected from each for further processing at Museum Victoria. The rest of the crew sat breaking some of the rock that had been excavated the day before, with interesting results.
Mary Walters found a nice skull fragment and Gerry Kool found what we are all hoping is a mammal jaw. We will know more after Dave has worked his magic on it in the preparation lab at the Museum.
The rain held off and 15 bones in total were discovered - 6 surface bones and 9 bones found during rock processing. A great result for two mornings work.
We will definitely be back next year.
Team photo to follow when Lisa (the official photographer) sends it to us.

The first bone found in the newly
exposed fossil layer, by Lesley Kool
Cross section through dinosaur limb bone
found by Lesley Kool in the newly exposed area.

Possible turtle pelvic bone found by
David Pickering, near the site of the
articulated dinosaur skeleton

Some of the team watching Dave cut out
one of the newly discovered bones,
while Lisa Nink documented the event
for the Museum Victoria blog.

Mary holding her skully fragment.
The sun was almost shining!

Gerry and Mary breaking rock while
Erich removed one of the newly
discovered bones in the background.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

New documentary

A couple of photos taken last Friday when Tony Robinson was filming an episode of his new documentary series at in Dave's lab under the Royal Exhibition Building. Ursula Smith works at the Museum and was an extra in one of the "Time Team" episodes. Rolf Schmidt is the Collection Manager of Invertebrate Palaeontology and Dave Pickering (as many of us know) is the Collection Manager of Vertebrate Palaeontology and Palaeobotany.

Ursula, Dave, Rolf, Tony

Dave, Rolf, Tony

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Rookies with shovels

Sand flying past Mario

John joins in

Catherine Gavin and Yoni


Car park Briefing
Poolside briefing

Travis and Eve
Mario Sue and Mary

Anna Jocelyn and Jacqui

Jacqui and Wendy

Jesse Yoni and Andrew

Peggy Catherine and Gavin

Mike Pip Daniel Rhiana and Jacquelyn

Fossil finds on Rookie's day

Travis holds his find
Travis' hollow shaft
Gavin holds his find
Gavin's limb bone

Jacqui holds her find
Jacqui's probable partial turtle skull

Monday, 24 October 2011

... during the Field Report presentation

Some of you might be wondering where the always reliable John W was during the Field Report presentation - well, he was pursuing his other hobby - blacksmithing (see
Here he is making metal roses at the Collingwood College Spring Fair.

It is good to see our diggers branching out and finding new things to hit with a hammer!

Monday, 17 October 2011

2011 Field Report published!

We are pleased to announce the publication of our 2011 Field Report.  Those crew and Friends who were unable to make the presentation on the weekend will receive theirs in the mail in the next couple of weeks.

Front Cover
Back Cover

Friday, 7 October 2011

Field Reports

It's a little over a week until our Field Report presentation, and we have (somewhat surprisingly even to us) already finished printing the reports.  Big stapling party tomorrow at Alanna's!  I hope to see lots of Friends and diggers Sunday 16th October - 1:30 pm at the Museum.

Monday, 26 September 2011

A tonne of chocolate

Pip stands beside a tonne of chocolate at the Philip Island chocolate factory. It reminds us of the time that Dr Tom Rich promised the first person to find evidence of a Cretaceous mammal a cubic metre of chocolate.  At the time, of course, he did not know that any would be found and so had not actually figured out the procurement of delivery details (for those that don't know the story, Tom persuaded Cadbury later to provide enough chocolate to convince the diggers the debt had been paid). We are informed that the process of making a block of chocolate that big means that the chocolate itself is not particularly nice, but that might just be story to make us feel better about not breaking into it!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Field Report editing...

The 2011 Field Report is starting to take shape.  There is now a real good chance that it will be ready in time for October 16th.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Important Dates

Field Report Presentation 1:30 pm Sunday October 16th at the Museum (link to become a Friend)
Training for new volunteers ("Rookies Day") Sunday November 7th at Flat Rocks
Current volunteers should be contacted by Lesley in the next few days.

A new dig baby

A big welcome to Luca Robert who arrived on August 26th.
And a big congrats to Jillian and Anthony, who may need to miss the next dig...

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Bass Coast tourism video

Our Inverloch dig gets featured in the Bass Coast tourism video.
Short version
long version
For those of you with really short attention spans, we're about 3 mins into the long video or 1:20 into the short one.  Look for Dave in a starring role.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

2011 Field Report submissions

We've started to receive a few more submissions for the 2011 Field Report.  Dr Tim Holland has written a great article about setting up the Explore-a-saurus exhibit at ScienceWorks that covers such broad topics as dinosaur hands, plumber's pipes and a bloody battle with a T. Rex.
To those readers not crew members (or contributors) remember that it's not too late to reserve your copy of the Field Report (and help us fund the 2012 dig) by joining Friends of Dinosaur Dreaming .

Monday, 8 August 2011

Mammal Jaw Movement

A number of our mammal jaws recently took a trip to Japan.  Over there, Dr Tom Rich used some fancy scanning equipment to image partially prepared mammal jaws from the Victorian Cretaceous.
I am starting to hear rumours that the gracile jaw I found and the tiny one that Gerry found are "very interesting".  Hopefully Tom will tell us all about it at the Field Report presentation.  We're just about ready to lock in Sunday 16th October for this, so crew members and friends should save the date.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

Rockbreaking comfort

Sarah demonstrates option 1
Sarah demonstrates option 2
Dave has been trialling new lightweight rock breaking stations for use at the field house next season. Here you can see a couple of prototypes set up in the back yard at Dave and Sarah's house. Regular diggers should feel free to add any other suggestions as comments - I'll deliver a free fancy coffee to the Flat Rocks site next season to anyone who makes a suggestion that gets incorporated into the new design.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

The great flood

A photo from the bottom of the stair
 at the dig site yesterday - thanks Mike!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

John builds a stand for our digital microscope

Remember the digital microscope that Dennis O'Donnell (the Wonthaggi optometrist) donated last year? We’d been finding it a little hard to use since we needed one hand to hold the fossil, one hand to hold the ‘scope, a bit of a jiggle to get it into focus and then quickly use the last remaining hand (or nose) to press the camera button. So I elicited the aid of John and look what he’s built us! We’ll have fun next year taking close-ups of all the teeth we find.
The stand
In profile

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Otways bone identified as Spinosaur

Check out the article in today's age.  A bone found by Mike Cleeland and George Caspar in 2005 has been identified as a Spinosaur.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Dino Footprints from Milanesia Beach

Check out the article in today's age talking about the footprints that Dr Tom Rich and Dr Tony Martin found on their Great Cretaceous Walk.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Lesley reports that mice broke into her shed and ate all of the stored Inverloch supplies.  They especially liked the toilet paper.  Apparently, they ate all of the tinfoil off some leftover chocolate eggs, but left the chocolate behind.  Which does beg the question - how on earth did we manage to have leftover chocolate at the end of a dig?

Likely dig dates

We have discussed some likely dig dates for the 2011/12 Field Season.
  1. Field Report day in mid October (maybe the 16th)
  2. Training day at Flat Rocks early November (maybe the 6th)
  3. Flat Rocks dig 3 weeks in February (maybe starting the 11th since that gives us the best tides)
  4. Eric the Crayfish dig 10 days in late March (maybe the 24th but we'll need to check with Bimbi)
Regular volunteers and Friends of Dinosaur Dreaming should hear from us shortly.

Monday, 23 May 2011

The old way to map the site

As part of his project, Dean has us reconstruct the old way of taking position readings at site.  Here are the photos.

Mary uses a direction disc
Mary adjusts the disc
Dean holds a height stick
Mary measures

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Flat Rocks mapping weekend - Day 2

Sunday involved more digging as Dean maps the outline of the old "main" hole, the position of Gerry's Rock, and the Footprint.

Mapping the site
Dean uses the total station
Alanna digs
Gerry on his rock
Stuart stands on a rock
Dean takes a reading
Dean confers with Lesley
Dean takes another reading
The crew