We arrived back at Santiago on Sunday night, pretty beat from the long drive across the continental divide. But we were excited to get back and begin the next stage of our work.
On Monday morning, Jim Parham (University of Alabama Museums), one of my longtime collaborators and one of the project's Co-PIs, arrived from North America. We picked him up from the airport, and started crossing off items from our long to-do list before we leave for the Atacama, where we will begin work on our research project to understand the Bahia Inglesa Formation bonebed, sponsored in part by the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution.
David with holotype skeleton of Pelagornis chilensis (Photo by NGM)
One of the more important items was checking in with MNHN in Quinta Normal, a short drive away from Nunoa, where we are staying. At MNHN, we met with the Director, Claudio Gomez, and reacquainted ourselves with the paleontological collections, which house a significant portion of the fossil material from the Bahia Inglesa Formation near Caldera. One of the more significant fossils housed at MNHN is the holotype of Pelagornis chilensis, which holds the distinction among flying birds as having the largest wingspan. Gerald Mayr and project Co-PI David Rubilar-Rogers described this taxon in 2010 (publication here), and it was featured on the journal's cover. Its completeness and preservation are taphonomically unusual features for a fossil recovered from the surface of a hardground surface. Check out more pictures of P. chilensis here.
NDP holding the holotype rostrum of Pelagornis chilensis, teeth up, next to Carlos Anzures' reconstructions in David's office at MNHN (Photo by JF Parham)
Tomorrow we head north. More from the road. (We will have WiFi with us).