Fossil Hunting

I’m not talking about a new Zooniverse project. We actually went on a search for (pre)dinosaur fossils last month! That’s what I’m doing here:

My boyfriend Steven and one of his best friends, Roel, went to this quarry in Winterswijk before. You have to sign in with the Nederlandse Geologische Vereniging and you have to make sure you have your own safety helmet, but that’s pretty much what it takes to become an amateur palaeontologist. We would’ve loved to stumble upon a skeleton as the one in the picture below (and the guys jokingly said that with my luck we just might) but that’s actually just a picture of a picture, which is shown in the little exhibit on top of the place that provides chalk for building roads on weekdays.

That skeleton was found at this place though! It now lives in a museum. I wasn’t really sure what I was doing, but I enjoyed randomly splitting rocks for hours and getting dirtier by the minute. Both Roel and Steven had found little footprints before, between these layers that used to be a marginal sea in the Triassic period, about 235 million years ago. In a way it was like participating as an amateur astronomer on Galaxy Zoo: there’s a chance you’ll discover something. Something important even. There are no guarantees though and it’s not the reason why you do it.

But I was pleased when I noticed some unusual scratches in between the two layers of rock I had just split. Steven came over from his spot to see it and shouted to Roel that it indeed looked like I was the first to find a little footprint that day. Later on, Roel did find a few more, even clearer ones, and Steven did too. But I’m still very pleased with these little nail marks that I found, which were left there by a creature all those million years ago (I mean, think about that for a minute)! They were probably made by a Rhynchosauroides peabodyi, which is a type of lizard, about a meter long, that went extinct at the end of the Triassic period.

I’m sure we will go back.

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