We are now at the morning of November 21st. The original plan was for us to visit the part of the Great Wall that was in driving distance to Beijing, but it snowed the night before so the roads were not considered passable. Instead, we went to the airport early. Almost eight hours early. The drive to the airport was very interesting. Actually, driving in China interesting, period. People on motorbikes dance in between vehicles going highway speeds with intricate choreography. I admit I was convinced our 15-passenger van was going to run over a biker on more than one occasion due to the traffic density and speed.
|I thought these tiny bikes would not possibly stand a chance in the heavy traffic. Turns out I was wrong!|
Forgive me, Dear Readers, but there was no way I was going to put any effort into finding either the original or the longer playing version. Suffice to say I will NEVER get those lyrics out of my head. This is what I get for not having my audiobooks handy. We arrived in Linshu the evening of September 21, and were shuttled to our hotel.
We spent two days at the Linshu tracksites. Early Cretaceous in age, they boast an ichnofauna attributed to sauropods, ankylosaurs, stegosaurs, and small, medium, and large theropods. Our first stop was in a stone quarry on the outskirts of the populated areas. Once again we were greeted by our old friend the vertical track surface.
|Tectonic action pushes once horizontal track surfaces vertical, and folded and faulted sediment layers are a common occurrence with vertical track surfaces.|
|At over six meters in height, we needed a way to get close enough to the surface to take photos, outline tracks, and do acetate tracings.|
Ichno-Geek Note: A stratigraphic section is the layers of rock that are deposited one on top of the other. These sections are diagrammed to show which rock layers came first, the grain size of the rock (fine or coarse), if there are any sediment deposition structures such as ripples or scour surfaces, and what the rocks contain (burrows, tracks, bones, wood, leaves, invertebrates, etc.) You cannot develop an accurate picture of the paleoenvironment in which these track-making animals lived without knowing under what conditions the track-bearing layers were deposited.
Once again we had access to ladders, but for documenting the large track surface featured above, we had something a bit more high-tech: we had a picker truck!
|Martin Lockley and Rich McCrea taking 3D photogrammetry shots of one of the track surfaces.|
While Daniel Marty and Hendrik Klein, did the primary documentation on the track face, and after Martin and I did the stratigraphic section, Rich and I decided to check out the rest of the bedding surfaces for additional tracks. I may have mentioned this before, but one of the great parts of vertical track faces is that multiple bedding surfaces can be exposed. It is not uncommon for one track surface to slough off only to reveal a completely new track surface underneath. I was still on the hunt for small tracks: invertebrates, birds, small reptiles, etc., and although I saw many finely rippled surfaces, rain drop casts, and many paired U-shaped burrows, bird tracks continued to evade me.
|Likely Arenicolites, one of the U-shaped burrows that is commonly part of the Skolithos ichnofacies.|
|Small rain drop casts on a fine-grained silty sandstone surface.|
|Acetate tracings in progress, with Hendrik Klein.|
|Rich McCrea being interviewed for the documentary, comparing the Linshu tracks to the Earliest Cretaceous tracks from south east British Columbia.|
Technically still of child-bearing age, I had given a lot of thought to this particular question. There is no doubt that having a child would drastically change the level of field work that I currently enjoy. I would be a fool to believe otherwise. That being said, I know of a few mothers who began bringing their offspring to field sites as soon as the babies could support their own heads, so it is not impossible to balance both a field career and raising a child. It also helps to have a husband who is a working team member.
It is a good thing that I had actually given the topic some thought, otherwise I might have gasped and gaped with all the grace of a beached fish. The best answer I could give was this: if we do decide to have kids, Rich and I will work as a team to make sure that both careers continue successfully, and that our kid would grow up thinking that going into the field looking for dinosaurs with Mom and Dad would be a normal part of the summer. The documentary people seemed both pleased and interested by this answer.
The acetate tracing was completed, and with help of the picker truck removed without incident.
|Daniel Marty and Hendrik Klein take charge of their masterpiece.|
|Three children watching those strange paleontologists, with the didactyl track face in the background.|
|Ray You (foreground) capturing a picture of Lida Xing (red coat) and the local farmer (right) who discovered the tracks in the area.|
|Meter stick for scale. Do you see the footprints?|
Day Two began with a visit to a different quarry. We first investigated a natural mold trackway of a small tetradactyl (four-digit) track maker.
|Rich McCrea off to scout out potential track-bearing surfaces.|
|The small, tetradactyl trackway. There was some discussion as to whether shallow manual impressions were preserved. Small ankylosaur? Small stegosaur? The work is in progress!|
|Just above my field book is a tridactyl pes print. The rest of the tracks are obscured by overlying sediment layers.|
|The same natural cast track surface, cleaned up and tracks traced. It is very likely these tracks were made by a medium-sized ornithopod.|
|The lighting was not ideal for these shallow tracks, but Daniel Marty (black shirt) and Rich McCrea (grey shirt) lean over to get a closer look.|
|From bottom left to top right: Daniel Marty, Rich McCrea, Martin Lockley, Lida Xing.|
|This wasp was not above stinging ichnologists who disturbed her sunning activities.|
...to be photo-bombed by Daniel Marty. I love working with people who have a sense of humor! If you are not enjoying yourself while you work, what it the point?
Try as I might, I was still not successful in finding any small vertebrate traces at these sites. My zeal to locate Early Cretaceous bird tracks did not go unnoticed, and the rest of the field team did their best to solve the nonbirdieness of the area.
|Lida "finds" some webbed bird tracks for me to photograph.|
|Ray You (right) chats with a vendor.|
|Kingwillow Crafts Center.|
|Baskets, chairs, tables, dressers...if it could be woven, it was here!|
|Including this large wicker bull! From left to right: City official, Julien Divey, Martin Lockley, Rich McCrea, Lisa Buckley, Hendrik Klein, Daniel Marty, and the owner of the Kingwillow company.|
The next day was a travel day: on November 24 we traveled from Linyi City to Chongqing City, for three days at a unique tracksite.
Stay tuned for more ichnology fun!