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> August 22, 2006 - The Final Assault
post Aug 29 2006, 05:28 PM
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The sound of the arriving helicopter alerts us that the final assault to claim the prized pachyrhinosaur skull and other fossils is about to begin. Thomas and Kent fly with Tony to the quarry to role the skull and finish its jacket. Chris and I stay behind to break camp.

Chris and I see the first sling leave the quarry and know that everything possible is being done to have the skull prepared for the last lift of the day. The plane that will transport our camp equipment and people back to Umiat arrives, but a few hundred yards downriver. The pilot informs us the gravel bar at camp is too dangerous to land on. We are forced to man haul all of the equipment.

Later in the day, Chris and I are summoned to the quarry because the skull jacket is heavier than expected. When we arrive at the quarry Tony estimates the weight of the jacket at 800 pounds. It takes six men to nudge the massive jacket into the net. The helicopter returns Chris and I to camp. We watch from the distance as the helicopter hovers over the quarry. The cargo is attached at the helicopter strains to lift the jacketed skull from the fast eroding quarry. Slowly, the helicopter rises releasing the skull from its tomb of 70 million years. Twenty hours later the skull arrives at Fairbanks. The scales at Wrights Air Service are used to weigh the skull 950 pounds!

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Chris Strganac, Dr. Tony Fiorillo, and Kent Newman standing by the prized skull.

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The pachyrhinosaur skull is finally freed from the quarry as it travels to Umiat.
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