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Last Updated: Wednesday, 4 February, 2004, 15:16 GMT
Of dinosaurs and dynamite
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor

Explosion, Augustana College
One way to dig up dinosaur bones
Some dinosaur fossil hunters extricate their finds using trowels and toothbrushes. But palaeontologists in Antarctica wield hammers, crowbars and especially dynamite.

Professor Bill Hammer, of Augustana College in the US, suspects that newly found fossils on Mt Kirkpatrick could be from a sauropod, a type of herbivorous dinosaur with a long neck and tail that lived from 250 million to 65 million years ago.

The last time he visited Kirkpatrick was 13 years ago when he dug up the remains of the first, and only, carnivorous dinosaur found in Antarctica - the seven-metre-long Cryolophosaurus ellioti.

Marty Reed, Augustana College
Blaster Reed gets to work
"We know very little about the early Jurassic, particularly in Antarctica," Dr Hammer told BBC News Online.

During his latest expedition, he found about 35 more bones that may belong to Cryolophosaurus or to other dinosaurs.

Above the fossil field Hammer's team saw another bit of exposed bone, possibly part of a pelvis or shoulder of a sauropod.

So blaster Marty Reed set charges of dynamite near the surface of the rock. Reed says the main thing is to use light charges so the rock is not fractured too much.

Then the team works with pick axes, rock hammers, crow bars and rock saws to free the beast's remains.

Rock boxes, Augustana College
The season's spoils
Eventually, they retrieved about 700 kilograms of rock and fossils, but say they left more behind.

"I'm happy with what we found," Dr Hammer said. "There's still more going back in there. We probably have another whole season's work there."

But it will be many months before he can examine the catch in detail. His finds are currently in crates at McMurdo station in Antarctica awaiting the arrival of the ship that will take them to the United States.

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