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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
( October 29, 1998)
SHELTON FAMILY DIGS FOR FOSSILS IN SOUTH DAKOTA
A father- daughter- son team from Shelton spent two weeks this summer in South Dakota digging for fossils of prehistoric creatures from the Late Cretaceous period. Kent Knock, his daughter, Moriah, and his stepson, Michael Lin, received hands- on field paleo experience under the direction of scientists from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology ( SDSM& T) Museum of Geology. The field excavation for marine turtles, mosasaurs, plesiosaurs and other Late Cretaceous animals was conducted at an important paleontological site along the Missouri River in central South Dakota.
“ I wanted to learn about geology and field paleo techniques, and also to bring my daughter and stepson to do the same,” said Kent Knock, in describing his reasons for traveling to South Dakota to participate in the SDSM& T field dig. Kent received his Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology in 1970 and currently works as a senior engineer for Sikorsky Aircraft in Stratford, CT. His daughter, Moriah, is a sophomore at Shelton High School, and his stepson, Michael Lin, is a freshman.
Discoveries during the field dig included a bison skull estimated to be 20,000 years old and Xiphactinus, a bulldog face fish from the Niobrara Formation 80- 85 million years ago. The excavations were conducted in an area where the SDSM& T Museum of Geology previously made the important scientific discovery of Archelon, a giant marine turtle that lived toward the end of the Age of Dinosaurs. The shell of this largest known sea turtle measures 12 feet across.
Numerous sea reptiles, especially mosasaurs, have been found in the area along the Missouri River where SDSM& T paleontologists have conducted field digs. Sea life at the end of the dinosaur age was dominated by mosasaurs and plesiosaurs. Mosasaurs were giant, large- toothed marine reptiles that are distant relatives of modern- day lizards. They inhabited the shallow seas that covered the Great Plains from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic during the Late Cretaceous period 65 to 90 million years ago.
“ These ferocious mosasaurs were top dog in the water,” says Dr. James Martin, SDSM& T Museum of Geology Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology and Professor of Geology. “ A T- rex wouldn’t stand a chance in the water against a mosasaur.” A previous dig at this Missouri River site yielded an especially significant discovery of baby mosasaur remains found among the pelvic area of the mother specimen. This is the first definite evidence that these lizard- like creatures gave live birth to their young.
SDSM& T’s field paleontology program attracts students, teachers and volunteers from across the nation each summer. The public can participate on a limited, space- available basis. For information about future field digs, individuals should contact Dr. Philip Bjork, SDSM& T Museum of Geology, at 1- 800- 544- 8162, ext. 2467, or via email: pbjork@ msmailgw. sdsmt. edu.
Photo Caption: Michael Lin, Moriah Knock, and Kent Knock ( pictured l. to r.) carefully scrape and brush away soil and rock from fossilized mosasaur bones that Kent discovered along the banks of the Missouri River during the search for fossils from the Late Cretaceous period. ( Photo Courtesy of SDSM& T University & Public Relations) ( i: univ\ pressrele\ 0998\ Missouri River Shelton CT)
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