By Anita Moore-Nall

The MSU students are back in China, where they explore the culture, look for fossils, and study dinosaur eggs in the laboratory.

Selected college students from across Montana travel to the Zhejiang Province of China on a National Science Fund program from May 17 - June 19, 2012. The students will be exposed to the culture and people of China as a way of broadening their worldview. The cultural exposure is secondary, however, to the research and study of dinosaur eggs at the Zhejiang Natural History Museum. This now marks the third year for this program and the 2012 research team consists of Dr. David Varricchio, Hannah Wilson, Michael Bustamante, Ian Underwood, Paul Germano, Heather Davis, Anita Moore-Nall, Bob Rader, Danny Barta, and Christian Heck

I am pursuing a small project examining the relationship of deformation in reduction spots and deformation present in clutches of eggs to gain some insight to the taphonomic history of the samples. Many of the eggs exhibit “compression” ridges, which I am referring to as a feature that is preserved generally along the prolate or the long axis of the eggs.

Reduction spots are spherical areas exhibiting a different, usually lighter color in a rock that have the same physical properties as the host, and thus measure the bulk strain of the rock. They are common within continental red beds in the geological record and have been used as strain indicators by structural geologists. Most dinosaur eggs are preserved in this type of deposit so this type of study may be helpful in other fossil studies. If the compression ridges line up or correspond with the changes in the shapes of the reduction spots then some overall interpretation as to the direction and percent of stress applied to both the egg and the spots might be inferred.

The analysis may give some indication of a change in shape related to the percent strain associated with the rocks as interpreted by the amount of strain indicated by deformed reduction spots. The overall direction of maximum/minimum stress may help support the up and down determination of the egg or show the direction of a stress event which has influenced the shape of the preserved egg. The overall shape of a fossilized egg is a result of the taphonomic history of the egg.

About the Author:

Anita Moore-Nall: I am an enrolled member of the Crow Tribe. I grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in Browning, Montana. I received my first degrees from the Department of Earth Sciences, Geology option and Department of Film and Television, Photography option in 1984. I worked initially for the USGS on a fellowship I received when I graduated from MSU. I worked for the Mineral Hill Gold Mine in Jardine, Montana while it was operating and then later for the forest service here in Bozeman at the supervisors office in the engineering department up until I had my son Tom, in 1993. I had a daughter, Stella in 1997. I worked on raising my family and did some part time work in various jobs around the Bozeman area. I returned to work as a consultant exploration geologist in 2006, looking for gold in Romania, Uranium in North Dakota and Tellurium in various states and Mexico. I decided to pursue an advanced degree in Geology in 2010 and started back to school at MSU in the Spring of 2010. I am studying some abandoned Uranium Vanadium mines in the Pryor Mountains, Montana and Little Mountain area of Wyoming. I hope to characterize the mode of mineralization and see if this is related to the lead and mercury contamination of the Bighorn River that flows through the Crow Reservation. I received the Dennis and Phyllis Washington Native American Graduate Fellowship in the fall of 2010 and recently was the recipient of a HOPA Mountain graduate fellowship. I love to nordic ski, bike and trail run when I have the opportunity

Previously in this series:

MSU China Paleontology Expedition: Team Progress Update

MSU Dinosaurs: An Egg By Any Other Name…

MSU Dinosaurs: introducing the Hatching Window Team

MSU Dinosaurs: Using Taphonomy to Further Understand Clutch Arrangement