Monday, April 8, 2013

Day 3 of 8: Ammonites and Dinosaurs

After breakfast at Denny's in Ardmore, OK, we all headed south to Valley View, TX.  There we were met by Bob Williams, Gary Turner, Stephan Gozdecki, and Rocky Manning (not pictured) from the Dallas Paleontological Society (DPS -

They displayed several exemplary fossils so we knew what we to look for.  For this day, though, we didn't have to 'tune' our eyes - we were going to look for the big ammonites.

While we were all getting acquainted and stretching our legs from the morning's drive, some of us took advantage of the facilities of Penelope's Bakery, across the street.  These sweet women said they knew lots of ranches where fossils are found in the area and invited us to come back and they'd take us to them!

See what I mean about not needing to tune to find big ammonites?  That is not a paleo car tire being pulled out of the wall:

Thank goodness we parked in the pasture so we had just a short walk from the site.  Since many of the ammonites were huge, this parking arrangement was great!

I can't tell how many kinds of ammonites there were - that will have to wait until we get them cleaned up and identified.  There were several.  One brachipod and one gastropod was found (that I know of), several heart urchins, and lots of clams were also part of the fossils collected.  It was just a beautiful place to be:

I think there were two reasons we stopped whacking at the wall to find more ammonites.  One was because our hands grew too tired to hold the hammers and the other because we wanted to go tour Billings Productions (, where animatronic dinosaurs are made.

Now, traffic in the Dallas area is no picnic.  We held together pretty well until we were within about 5 miles of the place.  Then, construction, signal lights, and traffic shattered our caravan.  I am truly grateful to the satellite gods of GPS...  We arrived at Billings from every direction possible, I think.

Lauren Billings gave us the tour of Billings Production, where we saw a LOT of dinosaurs!   The process of making a dinosaur was interesting.  They research the creature to be recreated extensively.  They create the base model with styrofoam, cover it with molding clay, then build up from there to make molds, replicating skin or hair. 

There is so much detail in the final product they can give you quite a start!

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