Dawn already? I hate getting up early, but it’s better to be working now when it’s cooler, than later in the day when it’s 100 degrees. That’s the time for cooling off in the river. A quick breakfast, make some sandwiches for lunch, retrieve my frozen water bottle, fill up four-quart bottles of water, gear up, and out into the field. Today is prospecting day, my favorite. The group gets dropped off at a promising spot in the vast Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta, Canada, for a day of prospecting.
Within minutes, I find myself alone in a maze of coulees, hills, and ravines. Thank goodness for my GPS. Without it, I’d get lost in a second. I get turned around, just looking for the “bathroom bush.” I’m off, looking up for signs of a shower of exposed bones, looking down for a vertebrae or toe bone sitting in the sand, looking for “the important find.”
Feeling pretty proud of myself for making it to the bottom of a deep coulee, I proceed to fall on my face. With torn jeans and scratched nose, (fortunately, my face broke my fall) I look at what I just tripped over. Lots of thoughts immediately flood my mind. My heart began to race. Did I hurt myself? Gee, I’m in the middle of nowhere, what if I need help? Boy am I going to get teased for falling on my face! And by the way, what made me fall on my face?
I turn to face my opponent and find about two inches of bone sticking out of the ground. It has a hard-right angle, but that’s all I can see. I start to pick at it with my “professional paleontology tool,” a screwdriver. Usually, these are just “Chunk-obone” pieces, but this one seems to go deeper into the hard-packed dirt. It’s time to get serious. I take off my backpack, take out my rock hammer, awl, and brush, and start to dig, and dig. The bone keeps going! This is getting exciting, although I still have no idea what this thing is. Nine inches down, the sharply angled bone levels off so I start digging a trench down to it. There is a sharp point sticking out of the dirt. Time to use the brush and dental pick. After two minutes, I begin to realize what this is- it is the tip of a tooth, probably a large one. It was shiny, sharp, with serrations like a steak knife, and had not seen daylight in sixty-seven million years. Not only that, but it was attached to the jaw bone. It is six inches long and ready to sink into some fresh flesh. A few minutes later, four more teeth appear. I had found a jaw full of teeth, and these teeth belonged to a Tyrannosaur. This is like a dream come true… And then I woke up.
OK, I admit that was my own little fantasy, but there are people who go to sleep every night dreaming about winning the lotto, finding a large gold nugget, sinking the last basket at the buzzer that wins the game or getting an A in algebra. We all want to be the hero. Well, I dream about finding that extra special dinosaur fossil, finding one tiny piece of the puzzle about dinosaurs. I dream about the adventure.