Click on any image to enlarge [above left] While hunting in the Niobrara Chalk of Gove County, Kansas, we were in the company of an expert guide who spotted a number of vertebrae lying on the surface. Here they are immediately after being collected and aligned, and then after being bagged and numbered. They belong to the predatory fish Xiphactinus (genera: Ichthyodectidae), which regularly grew to fifteen feet, or more, in length [top right] At the suggestion of our guide, I spent the afternoon digging around in the same spot, gradually uncovering more and more vertebrae from the hillside, and finally a nearly complete skull! That's me in the green T-shirt looking very pleased and slightly sunburned [center right] The whole team pitched in to help excavate, once we realized the quality of the find, and that there wasn't too much daylight left! Here, Butvar is applied to the giant fish skull in order to strengthen the fossilized bone [bottom right] It pays to have experts on board. Two members of our team had plenty of experience with the removal of large fossils from the field, and here they are jacketing the Xiphactinus skull in plaster of paris, to protect it during the journey back to the east coast.
Please note that these and all finds were made on private land, after the NJPS had secured express permission from the landowners to collect fossils.