The crate was indeed huge. We had to remove close to two dozen screws, and like the father in the movie "A Christmas Story" ("fra-gee-lay"), we found a great deal of stuffing. But slowly it emerged: Jaws. Very big jaws.
The museum will be an essential destination for learning about the natural history of the Great Valley and surrounding regions. Now, I'm all for this kind of thing (just take a short look at my other blog, for instance), but the unfortunately sad other fact is that practically no one in our county is familiar with the incredible paleontology of our region. Mention "digging for fossils" and most people think dinosaurs, and invariably dinosaurs in some other place. But the history of our planet is much more than just dinosaurs, and our region is richly blessed with an incredible fossil record of strange and wonderful creatures that have lived here through the ages. I've discussed them in the past, and will do so again, but today's arrival was a special part of our fossil heritage.
In the waning part of the dinosaur era (the Mesozoic), a creature related to the Komodo Dragon adapted to living in a marine environment, becoming one of the top predators of their time. Upwards of 30-40 feet long, the Mosasaurs were terrifying, with massive teeth, huge jaws, and presumably a huge appetite for anything that swam the seas. They have been found worldwide, and several have been found in the sediments of the Great Valley Group. An excellent specimen of a creature called Plotosaurus bennisoni was discovered in our county by a young man from Gustine in the 1930s. They were here! Another specimen, called Prognathodon rapax was discovered in Fresno County to the south of us.
|This Mosasaur is on display at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta|