March 22-23, 2012
Over the next ten days, I am travelling through Neuquen Province, in Patagonia, Argentina with a small crew of New Media experts from the ROM – producer Rob McMahon and filmographer Randy Dreager. We will be working with local scientists to make a short documentary film on the process of fieldwork, showcasing the incredible dinosaur fossils from this area. The goal is to show visitors some to the most important, new dinosaur finds from the palaeontologists that actually made them. The short documentary will be shown in a theatre inside the Ultimate Dinosaurs: Giants from Gondwana exhibition opening June 23, 2012.
Our first two days were spent at the Lagos Borreals Palaeontology Centre, about 100 km north of Neuquen City, Argentina, to see the original skeleton of the gigantic titanosaur Futalognkosaurus – the largest relatively complete skeleton of a dinosaur ever found in the World – and document the on-going excavation work at the site by Dr. Jorge Calvo, which is called Proyecto Dino.
Dr. Calvo started Proyecto Dino shortly after the initial discovery of the Futalognkosaurus skeleton by Dr. Ariana Paulina-Carabajal, then a student of palaeontology on her first field experience with dinosaurs. She is now a researcher at the nearby Museo Carmen Funes. The skeleton was found along the north shore of Lake Borreales, in the approximately 90 million year old rocks of the Puertozelo Formation. The site is surrounded by beautiful badlands of bright red rocks. The skeleton was partly articulated, with the vertebrae of the neck, back and pelvis largely together as in life, and the limbs slightly scattered nearby.
The discovery was not only significant because of the immense size of Futalognkosaurus – which will stretch to over 100 ft in length and 30 feet tall when mounted in the front atrium of the ROM – but because of the wealth of fossils that were found associated with it. Delicate fish, beautiful leaves, and the bones of other dinosaurs (including the meat-eating Megaraptor), give us the most detailed look at the ecosystem of one of the biggest animals to walk on Earth. The work continues to this day, and more fossils are being found at this remarkable site every year. For more information, including the possibility of helping Dr. Calvo with this work, visit the Proyecto Dino website.