The Pet Tree House - Where Pets Are Family Too : Team Digs Up 90 Million-Year-Old Turtle Remains in Sierra County

Monday, November 3, 2014

Team Digs Up 90 Million-Year-Old Turtle Remains in Sierra County

The terrain looked much like any other in the southern New Mexico desert with its clumps of desert grass, its stands of mesquite bushes and its rock-strewn soil.

But to keen-eyed Jeff Dornbusch, a volunteer with a Truth or Consequences museum, a certain pile of rocks he spotted on a hike years ago looked a bit different.

Sure enough, as he'd later learn, they were fragments of a roughly 90 million-year-old turtle fossil.

"It just looked like a pile of gray rocks out here," he said.

The color difference in the rocks — a light gray amid the dull brown dirt surrounding — proved to be just the right cue that something more scientifically valuable was hidden in the ground beneath.

Last week, Dornbusch got to see the turtle excavated by a team of scientists and volunteers from the Albuquerque-based New Mexico Museum of Natural History.

"I never really knew this area as a place for marine fossils — shells and stuff in the mountains," he said.

Dornbusch initially spotted the rocks more than a decade ago while on a recreational hike. But after returning to the area, he was never able to relocate the exact site of the fossils. That was up until two summers ago, when he finally found it again.











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