Digging Up Jurassic Treasure!

Digging Up Jurassic Treasure!


(intense music) – Holy Jurassic! It’s a dinosaur tooth! Mario! (intense music) If I were to ask you, what is the most deadly creature to ever set foot on the planet? There’s a good chance you would
answer, Tyrannosaurus Rex. This dominant theropod
from the Crustaceous Period proudly rules as king of the dinosaurs. But what if I told you that
there was another predator who stalked the planet
roughly 80 million years before T. rex that was just as dangerous, and maybe more deadly? The never ending expanse
of rocky hillsides, and prairies filled with
flowing yellow grasses, visually define the modern state of Wyoming’s rugged country side. Yet if you were to travel back in time some 160 million years,
you would find yourself smack in the middle of
the Jurassic period, and things look quite a bit different, as this environment was blanketed
in lush, swampy forests. Consider it the Golden Age of dinosaurs, the Jurassic gave rise
to some of history’s most iconic species, like
Stegosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and the focus of this expedition, the predatory nightmare
known as Allosaurus. Roughly 150 million years
ago, Allosaurus went extinct. And finding the remains of
this ultimate Jurassic predator are quite possible, if
you know who to work with and where to look. Thermopolis, Wyoming,
nicknamed The Hot City, only has a population
of around 3,000 people. Yet with a lax in human density, it makes up for in geological glory. Not only does it boast having the worlds largest mineral hot spring, it’s also a hot zone for
fossils, and as a result, became home to one of the
nations most renound museums, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center. This non-profit organization is devoted to educating the public
about prehistoric life. And their facility
displays one of the largest and most unique fossil
collections in the world. Upon arrival, we took a
quick tour led by Jack. He’s the head of public relations, but definitely fits the role
of a brilliant paleontologist and his knowledge of dinosaurs
was encyclopedic in nature. You could spend a week admiring
the center’s collection, yet we were after Allosaurus. – So this is what it would look like if I was in the Jurassic period and found myself in
the jaws of Allosaurus. I could just imagine what it would be like to be the Stegosaurus on my back with these teeth coming
down straight at you and looking down the throat,
is a pretty haunting image. What’s unique about the
Wyoming Dinosaur Center is that beyond the actual museum, they have a number of active dig sites. And today we’re getting
the chance to visit a site, known as Something Interesting. Discovered in 1995, this mudstone deposit in the Morrison Formation
is famous for being the only confirmed dinosaur
feeding site in the world. Roughly 150 million years ago, a young Camarasaurus died
at the edge of a lake and became the feeding
grounds for a variety of carnivorous dinosaurs,
including Allosaurus. All right, there it is,
I see it in the distance. The dig site. We are almost there. How excited are you getting right now? – I’m very excited. This is our first time
actually digging in an area where we’re looking for
actual dinosaur fossils. – I don’t think it’s hit me yet. These will be true dinosaur fossils, and Jurassic fossils. – Right!
– I mean, 150 million year old dinosaur bones, and we’re gonna see them today. – Yeah, my favorite dinosaur
is Tyrannosaurus Rex, right? But I love all Theropods as well. Allosaurus was a dominate
Theropod in the Jurassic and I mean, any fragment or remnant that we could potentially find of an Allosaurus would be amazing. – I’m pretty intrigued by Allosaurus. I feel like it’s an underrated predator. – Yeah. – I mean, if you compare
it to T. rex, yeah, it’s only about half the size
and it has a smaller skull, but it’s much more agile,
and with the longer forelimbs and three fingers, I feel
like it’s a much more dangerous predator than T. rex. Allosaurus, a greatly under-appreciated Theropod in my opinion. Okay, we have made it to the site, I can see that Jessica is
right there waiting for us. Let’s go meet Jessica and
Angela and get started. – All right, high three!
– High threes! Yeah, let’s do it. Upon arrival at the dig site, we are greeted by Jessica. She’s the education director and will be overseeing
our digging activities. Also on site with us is
Angela, a paleontologist and the dig site manager,
who will help us identify and properly record
any fossils we uncover. – All right, Jess, so this is the Something Interesting dig site. It looks very interesting, and appears as if you guys have uncovered a lot of dinosaur bones already. Where will we be digging today? – So we’re gonna dig right
here in this little area. We’ve had some pretty
good luck this last year finding some Allosaurus teeth. – Let’s step down into here,
I just wanna get a look at what this is. So multiple layers, right? Now what do you call this substrate, can I actually touch it?
– Yep, you can touch it. It’s kind of like shaley mudstone. – Mudstone, I like that, that’s cool. So what I think we should do then, is Mario, maybe I will start on one side, you start on the other side and we try to meet in the
middle and may the man who finds the dinosaur tooth
first win, how about that? – Sounds good, sounds like a challenge. (intense music) – Okay, so I see this, and
maybe you tucked this over here as a surprise, but I’ve
already spotted it. Check this out, I imagine
this is what we’re gonna plow through the earth with today? – No.
– This is a pickaxe, right? No?
– That is a pickaxe, but that is not what we are
going to be using today. – I have always said that paleontology is a profession of patience,
so I guess I can understand why the pickaxe isn’t exactly
the tool of choice. Jessica quickly gave us a demonstration of the tools that would be most effective, and of course the safest, for excavating Jurassic-aged fossils. An oyster knife, a paintbrush, and a good old-fashioned dust pan. Yep, that’s about as
scientific as it gets. But believe it or not, these
simple, every day tools are universally used by
paleontologists around the world. I still think the pickaxe
looks and would be cooler. But when you’re talking
about priceless fossils, delicacy and precision
definitely win out over cool. So with the team assembled,
we set up the cameras, and it was time to start our dig. I’m officially a paleontologist today. Probably gonna make a
significant discovery. I’m not sure what that
discovery’s gonna be, sometimes you just get that
feeling from within your soul, that today is the day that I’m
gonna find something amazing. All right, you excited to get started? – Yep, got the tools.
– All right, I got my pickaxe, oh yeah, can’t use the pickaxe, I have my oyster knife and my paintbrush, and I’m ready to go. So you’re gonna dig in from this side, I’m gonna dig in from that side, so let’s create this
into a perfect square. – Got your Allosaurus. – Allosaurus here for motivation. – I’ve got my Dr. Alan Grant, he’s gonna be helping me out today. – Okay, perfect. Good luck, may the best man
find the first Allosaurus tooth. – All right. – Here we go.
– Let’s do this. (upbeat music) – Find anything yet? – No, I haven’t even started.
– Oh. – See, impatience. – I am rather impatient. – The name of the game is patience when it comes to paleontology. – As we slowly began to chip back the crumbling mudstone, my
mind traveled back in time to the Jurassic period. I wondered how this
scene really played out 150 million years ago,
and I tried to envision a pack of Allosaurus descending
upon this Camarasaurus. Was it already dead? And was it the retched stench
of decaying flesh filling the swampy air that drew these
predators into the feast? Or was the large sauropod
possibly trapped in thick mud, providing an easy target
for the lighter weight and agile predators. Many scientists believe that Allosaurus may have been a pack hunter,
and like modern day wolves, would sometimes follow
their prey for days, slowly wearing the larger animal down until a kill could be made. Regardless of this Camarasaurus’ demise, one thing was for certain,
several Allosaurus had considered this exact place
to be something interesting. A ready-made buffet line
for all you can eat meat. Okay, so we have been
digging for around two hours, but we have completely cut a line from this looser substrate
down into the slatey mudclay, and now what we’re left
with is what looks like a perfect skull sized square.
– Yeah. – And Mario, what do you
think we’re gonna find inside this square? – Well, of course, the
goal is to find a tooth, but who knows, maybe some dinosaur eggs or somethin’, you know? – Could be dinosaur eggs,
could be a dinosaur skull, no matter what, we’re gonna dig it up and find out what is inside. – What we discovered by
doing this trench here is that this is kinda like lasagna. You could clearly see here all the layers and we finally got to the layer that will be hopefully conducive
to teeth and stuff, yeah. – There could be dinosaur eggs, or there could be a dinosaur skull inside this giant slab
of prehistoric lasagna. So if you guys are ready,
let’s keep diggin’. – [Mario] All right. – Like modern day sharks and crocodiles, prehistoric Theropods
are constantly losing and replacing teeth. So as their jaws crunched into the flesh, tendons and bones of a fallen victim, teeth were frequently breaking off. These lost teeth would in
turn fall into the mud, and eventually be trapped in time. Over the past 20 years,
the Wyoming Dinosaur Center has uncovered hundreds of
Allosaurus teeth from this site. So our odds of finding one
are actually pretty good. But it’s the patience thing
that seems to be troubling me. All right, I’m gonna
give you guys an update. Coyote Peterson is facing
fossil fatigue right now, and I’ve carved out a little
section for myself to sit in, and you see how far
we’ve come at this point. We’ve unearthed a lot, and we have found a handful of fragments,
but we have yet to uncover a dinosaur skull or any dinosaur teeth. I’m not giving up, though. That’s not me giving up, that’s
me just giving an update. Fossil fatigue can easily be cured with water and a short nap. Maybe some beef jerky. The intense heat and parched air continue to take their tool on our minds and bodies as the afternoon wore on. – The digging continues. I’m doing okay, I’m
not as tired as Coyote, as a matter of fact he
is sleeping right now. Hey! Wake up, dude.
– What? I have fossil fatigue, leave me alone. I’ve found too many
fossils, I need to rest. – Coyote got fossil fatigue very fast. Now he’s got the ax, the
pickaxe, you can’t use that. – I’m about five minutes
away from using the pickaxe. – You can’t use the pickaxe.
– I just feel like if you guys let me dig into this mound right here, we’re gonna uncover a
skull in like seconds. – The problem with fossil
fatigue is you become delirious. He’s in the delirious stage right now. – [Coyote] There’s gotta be
a tooth down here somewhere! – Yeah.
– Come out tooth! – Wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of discarded mudstone was hauled and dumped off the hillside. Boom! – [Mario] Whoa, don’t
lose the wheelbarrow. – And that is how you take a mud dump. And as the hours passed, we still hadn’t found a dinosaur skull, let alone a single tooth. – [Mario] What’s new with you, Coyote? – Oh well, I found some
interesting little bone fragments, nothing substantial at this point. So I was real focused on this square, and it seems as I am getting
deeper and deeper I’m finding more remnants of bones, so, we are now down to the footprint layer right here. Nearly seven hours of slowly chipping and hauling mud stone, is
a tough task to comprehend. At first it sounds like a blast. You figure you’re going
to dig a little ways down, and viola, there’s a dinosaur fossil waiting to be discovered. But, that’s not exactly how it works. In fact, the harder we
searched, the less we found. And for some odd reason, it seemed that when I completely lost my focus, that the entire course of
the day seemed to change. I’m gonna actually move over
here to where Angela’s at, and see what she’s got goin’ on. Find anything cool? – No, it’s just old bones
that we found before. – [Coyote] Clean up in this area? – Yeah, I’d probably
start with the paintbrush. – Okay. It’s almost impossible to describe how it feels to find a dinosaur tooth. But I’d liken it to be
struck by lightning. And just so we’re clear, I’ve never been struck by lightning, but it
goes something like this, at first you feel this bolt of energy surge through your body. Clearly something insane just happened, but you don’t quite realize what. Your eyes widen and then
a shock of disbelief blankets over you, and your
body becomes frozen in place. Oh, I got somethin’ right here. The hairs on the back
of your neck stand up, and then with all of your might, you must up the most absurd
thing that comes to mind. – Holy Jurassic! It’s a dinosaur tooth! Mario, come here, check this out! I think I found a dinosaur tooth! – No way! – [Coyote] There it was, without question, an Allosaurus tooth. – [Mario] Oh my gosh, that’s a tooth! – [Coyote] Okay here, come in
to get a closer shot on it. – Where is it?
– So, right here, you see this? Celebration and excitement aside, a dinosaur tooth is just as
delicate as a dinosaur bone. In fact, maybe more delicate. So what Angela’s doing
is just bleeding glue into all of the little pieces. I performed the ever important task of jotting down the details, and was even asked to exercise
my incredible drawing skills to illustrate what the tooth
looked like in the mudstone. Yep, that’s pretty much a
modern day Picasso right there. Finally, with all the data logged, it was time to extract my Jurassic gem. – We have been out here today for going on seven hours
digging in the heat, but there it is right there. The holy grail of Jurassic
fossils, the Allosaurus tooth. Angela and Jess are gonna
both coach me through extracting this tooth from the matrix. I’m extremely nervous
because if I mess this up, it means there’s no second take. As in, the tooth will be
destroyed and lost forever. That’s a lot of pressure, guys. So, Angela, what’s the
first thing I wanna do? – [Angela] Start with
a little bit below it. – Okay, a little bit below it. – Yeah.
– Wow. Look at that, it is just flaking away. Oh, here we go. That’s more tooth exposed right there. I can actually see the serrations running along the edge of the tooth. And earlier Angela said to me that if you breath too hard on a tooth, you can actually destroy it,
and now I see how that’s true. They’re so incredibly delicate. Even a strong breath, a, at a tooth can blow pieces of it off. – [Angela] You kinda
wanna go straight down with your oyster knife.
– Okay. – [Angela] And try and get in there, see if everything moves together. You’re basically gonna try and move the whole rock with the tooth. – Oh yeah, it is. The whole thing is moving. Okay, I think the tooth might
be getting ready to pop out! Let’s see, all right,
you got an okay shot? – [Mario] Yep. – I am about to, I think, lift
the tooth out of the matrix. Here it comes. Oh, okay, my hand is shaking. I’m nervous, all right, I got it. This is gonna be it, okay. I’m gonna gently bring
it into my hand here. Oh my gosh. We got it. That is an Allosaurus tooth. Unbelievable, my hands are shaking just being able to hold a
fossil of this magnitude. Just think about that. 150 million years ago,
this tooth was digging into the flesh of other dinosaurs. Now this is a shed
tooth, and this is about as perfect as it gets. Just about an inch in length, you can perfectly see the
serrations, it has it’s tip. It doesn’t get any better than this. And when you look at the tooth up close, you can see a bit of sheen to it. Much darker and much more dense than the other bone fragments that we were coming across today. Well, it was certainly
a long day of digging, but that is the science of paleontology, a profession of patience. You can dig and dig and dig, and then when you least expect it, you come across the holy grail of all fossils, a Theropod tooth. I’m Coyote Peterson. Be brave, stay wild, we’ll see ya on the next prehistoric adventure. All right, you guys
wanna wrap up the tooth before I accidentally
drop it and we lose it for – Sure.
– The rest of time? When it comes to paleontology, you always have to expect the unexpected. And almost all of the greatest discoveries happened by simply
being at the right place at the right time. And of course, by staying persistent. The day after I found my Allosaurus tooth, we returned to the Something
Interesting dig site to film some additional B-roll. Mario, refusing to give
up his search for a tooth, decided to spend a few more minutes chipping away at his side
of the prehistoric mudstone. When all of a sudden, the
unbelievable happened. Did you really find a tooth? Whoa, that’s! – [Mario] Clear as day, that’s a tooth. – Dude, all right! Get it out of there!
– Look at that! Wow, holy cow! – We were so close yesterday.
– Yes! – In this exact spot! That is pretty crazy. That’s right, Mario found a tooth. A big tooth. In fact, one of the
biggest and nicest teeth ever pulled from this site. Mario, I think you
forgot to say something. – Oh, that’s right. Holy Jurassic I found a dinosaur tooth! Coyote! – No way! The tooth was mapped, carefully extracted, and wrapped up so it could be taken
down from the hillside. We returned to the
Wyoming Dinosaur Center, and along side Angela, we
watched as she carefully cleaned and prepared our teeth for display. It’s a process that
takes considerable time, but upon completion,
nothing is more beautiful than a 150 million year old tooth from the jaws of the
Jurassic’s top predator. The Wyoming Dinosaur Center
is dedicated to preserving and protecting Wyoming’s
natural history treasures for future generations. Their museum is one of the nations best, but what truly sets them apart is the fact that their
dig sites are accessible to the public, and every
day tourists lead you back to the Jurassic period
where you can experience the thrill of a dinosaur dig. Ever since I was a little kid, Allosaurus has been one
of my favorite dinosaurs. It’s a predator that often
goes underappreciated, and the looming shadow if it’s larger, more popular cousin,
the Tyrannosaurus Rex. But what it lacks in
size and Hollywood fame, it makes up for in agility, intelligence, and predatory perfection in a time when dinosaurs first ruled the earth, the Jurassic period, not the park. Very few people can say they
have found a dinosaur tooth. I am proud to say that I am one of them. It’s a moment you never forget, and an accomplishment you
will carry your entire life. And it’s cool that Mario found one, too. Even if his tooth was bigger. I found mine first. So, I’m just sayin’, it’s cool. Hey Coyote Pack, if you thought unearthing an Allosaurus tooth was incredible, make sure to go back and watch the episode where I held the worlds largest and most famous T. rex tooth. And don’t forget, subscribe and
click the notification bell, so you can join me and the crew on our next prehistoric adventure.

31 thoughts on “Digging Up Jurassic Treasure!

  1. the allosaurus has a really weak bite force. But it hunts prey by using their upper jaw only. Their bite force was weaker than that of a lion. When you said its stronger than the t-rex, i thought you were going to talk about the giganotasaurus. Oh well

  2. I worked on the 3 Camarasaurus ribs in upper SI 2 years ago. Before taking the tooth out, you could have explained how paleontologists have to map and record the location of the bones as another way give insight.

  3. Im kinda happy dinosaurs are extinct even though they would be cool but like who want giant lizards eating humans and everything else they see

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