(and sometimes stepping on the fossils, and turning Pat white). This is not my favorite activity.
The only digging I did was separating the skull from the pelvis. The skull is the most important part of the anatomy because of what it can tell us about the animal's evolution and behavior. And it's the most delicate. This skull was so close to the pelvis that moving either might damage both. So if anyone was going to screw up, I wanted to be the one.
I began scraping with an awl until I found a litde pathway of sandstone I could scrape away between the skull and hips. It was a relief to all of us that the skull and pelvis weren't flush against each other and so bound for damage when we moved them.
With a chisel I made a bunch of tunnels to make sure I had a good separation between the skull and hip bones. I needed enough space to get plaster on both the skull and hips, and room to move the skull, so the pelvis could then be removed. I ended up making tunnels big enough for me to crawl right through them.
Meanwhile, others were cutting burlap strips and soaking them in plaster. They slapped them over the bone with a layer of paper towel in between to help separate them later. Then, as with every bone bundle, we lifted the skull up, plastered the last remaining patch on the bottom and set it aside to dry.
Once we'd moved the skull, we tried to make the smallest pelvic block possible, but even so, the pelvis, with the left hind leg, weighed three tons. The neck vertebrae formed a huge block, too, at least a ton. Together all of us couldn't move these blocks by hand, even to lift them for plastering the undersides, and we had no desire to try.
Fortunately Ed Westemeir, the Army Corps of Engineers' maintenance foreman, brought two of his expert front-end-loader men, Walt Murch and Kermit Flom, to haul the T. rex out. They came out July 2, less than a month after Pat had started the dig. Despite hailstorms and media plagues, Pat had everything ready to go right on schedule. Pat usually looks pretty relaxed, but he t h e dig 5 3
wasn't calm that day, trying to get that T. rex safely out of the ground.
Shelley's brother, Bill McKamey of Willimac Trucking in Great Falls, Montana, had driven his flatbed semi more than 300 miles to take the T. rex another 370 miles back to our museum in Bozeman. But since the road was too narrow to bring Bill's truck to the site, the bones had to be loaded first onto one of the Corp's tiltbed trucks. Tom Wankel brought out his two-ton grain truck to help.
All these volunteer drivers knew a lot more about building roads and fixing dams and docks than they did about dinosaurs. "Tri-sorus-pots" is what Kermit called Triceratops. I like his name better.
And we knew nothing about moving a fossil this big.
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