For days Ty tried--and failed--to help the team find fossils. Then a snake slithered onto the scene.
MAN, IT WAS HOT. Tyrell Wexley blinked sweat out of his eyes and squinted at his older brother, Lowell, who was making his way up a narrow ridge that had been cut into the side of this scrubby hillock. The gully below them shimmered in the summer heat.
"See anything, Ty?" Lowell called.
Tyrell hated to say it, but he hadn't spotted a thing. For the past three days he, his brother and Lowell's two friends had been scouring the area for eggs, tooth marks and any other traces left in sandstone by dinosaurs that had lived hereabout millions of years ago.
The paleontology students at the University of Montana had received permission to search for fossils along the outskirts of a ranch about 50 miles from Choteau. After three days of hard searching, though, they had found nothing except scrub, dust, horrific afternoon thunderstorms and snakes.
IF IT GOT ANY HOTTER, Tyrell thought, they'd be able to use the sandstone to cook eggs--maybe even make an omelet with those 60-plus million-year-old hadrosaur eggs Lowell, Ken Orel and Manuel Sanchez hoped to find.
Tyrell didn't know why the guys were so puzzled about the dinosaurs' disappearance 60 million years ago. With this heat, he figured they had died of sunstroke.
JUST A WEEK BEFORE he'd been really psyched at being invited to join Lowell and his buddies for a field trip in the high plains of Montana. Now, Tyrell wished he hadn't come. It wasn't just the heat, either; he had this feeling that he was always in the way.
Although everybody was kind to him, and though he did his best to help out in any way he could, he knew he was no asset to the group. For one thing, he didn't know the first thing about paleontology. All his knowledge about dinosaurs came from videos or the movies and from what he'd picked up from talk around the evening campfires.
HE HAD LEARNED, for instance, that hadrosaurs had lived during the Cretaceous period and that the 43-foot herbivores had mouths shaped like duck bills. That was weird enough, but what really impressed Tyrell was that each big reptile had sported about 2,000 teeth!
He was thinking of those teeth now as Lowell said, "I have this feeling that we're really close to those fossils, Ty. Those big dinosaurs lived around here. When they died, they were buried in sediment that hardened into sandstone." He paused to brush sweat out of his eyes as he added, "It's like the past is a big puzzle. All we have to do is find the pieces, you know?"
Lowell always treated his kid brother as a partner and not as a pain in the neck. As he nodded, Tyrell felt hot with a determination not to let his brother down....
SOMETHING LONG AND FAST-MOVING slithered through the underbrush at Tyrell's feet. As he instinctively jumped backward to avoid the snake, a rock twisted under him, and he fell backward.
He hit the ground so hard that the wind was knocked out of him. Next thing he knew, Lowell was bending over him. "Are you O.K.?" he asked, anxiously.
Feeling like 10 kinds of fool, Tyrell started to get to his feet but sank down again as pain seared through his ankle. "Looks like a bad sprain," Lowell frowned.
"It's nothing," Tyrell protested, but his brother wasn't buying that.
"You can't bear weight on that. Trust me," he said. "And I can't carry you back to camp by myself over this ridge. You'll have to stay put while I go find the others."
THERE WAS NO USE trying to argue. Tyrell felt miserable as he watched his brother make his way down the hillock. He'd really messed things up for Lowell today.
He tried to stand up again. It wasn't too bad this time. O.K., now if he could catch up to Lowell-- Agony stabbed through Tyrell. His leg buckled. Losing his balance, he slid sideways down the side of the gully.
Luckily, it wasn't a deep slope. Shaken but unhurt, Tyrell sat up, coughing dust. A shower of stones was still rolling down from the ridge above. "Oh, great," he muttered.
As Tyrell tried to sit up, something shifted under his hand.
ANOTHER SNAKE? He snatched his and away, but it was only a large rock dislodged by his fall. A discolored rock.
For a second, it didn't sink in. Tyrell started to look away, then took another, longer look. The discolorations on the rock appeared to be the outline of bones.
Was it--? Could it be--?
"Yes? Tyrell gasped.
He'd actually stumbled onto a fossil. This was awesome!
Forgetting his ankle, Ty began to scramble around among the rocks and fallen stones and found himself staring at a striated sandstone boulder in which was embedded what looked to be a series of huge teeth.
"Look at the size of these things," Tyrell whispered. He felt a shiver of excitement.
MILLIONS OF YEARS AGO, some gigantic animal had left some of its 2,000 teeth in sediment. If he closed his eyes, Tyrell could almost hear the thunder of the huge creature's approach He could smell the moist, green scent of tall grass and abundant trees and sense an enormous presence so close that he could actually feel hot, reptilian breath on his neck.
"Ty, are you hurt? How did you get down there?"
Tyrell blinked back to reality and saw Lowell and his two friends standing on the top of the ravine. All Tyrell could manage was, "D-dinosaurs!"
IT WAS ENOUGH. Within seconds, the others had slid down to the bottom of the gully and were poring over the sandstone boulder.
"Hadrosaur," breathed Lowell. "Ty, you've done it. You've found the big one?
"Big ones," Manuel corrected. He and Ken were on their knees, examining a slab of sandstone. "There are footprints over here."
"We've got to contact the university--and the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman," Ken Orel exclaimed. He scrambled to his feet and gave Tyrell's shoulder an ecstatic whack. "This is so cool, man! I'll get the camera and start shooting film to record all of this."
"We'll need an itemized list of our findings," Lowell added.
"Ty, d'you feel up to writing down what we find?"
Flushed with pride, Tyrell nodded. He felt that he had finally earned a place on the team.
Wartski, Maureen Crane. "THE BIG DINO HUNT." Boys' Life Aug. 2000: 40. General OneFile. Web. 16 Nov. 2009.
Gale Document Number:A63818326
(Album / Profile) http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=10031&id=1661531726&l=cf90f7df9c