“Shipping a dinosaur fossil halfway across Alaska is not something you do every day,” writes Patrick Druckenmiller, Curator of Earth Science at the Museum of the North at the University of Alaska. In late December 2011, Lynden Transport was in charge of making sure four crates of plesiosaur bones made it to the University of Alaska safe and sound. Plesiosaurs are extinct, marine reptiles similar to the mythical Loch Ness Monster.
This particular fossil was found in eastern Montana by an elk hunter. “In July of 2011, I led a team to collect the fossil with a crew from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” Pat recalls. “We collected almost the entire skeleton, which is quite rare. The animal was probably about 20 feet long.”
One of the most challenging aspects of the project was getting the fossil from Montana to Alaska to be cleaned and studied. The fossil was shipped to Anchorage, but it still needed to get to Fairbanks. “This is where Lynden Transport stepped up to the plate and generously donated their services to ship the specimen for the final leg of its journey,” Pat says. “They offered to pick up the four crates (totaling about 1,000 pounds) at the UPS gateway and in short order shipped it to Fairbanks. Needless to say, it needed to be handled carefully and it arrived without a scratch. I was also delighted to see it arrive so quickly after I first contacted Lynden. What a wonderful Christmas present!”
The fossil is very significant; it is one of the most complete plesiosaurs ever found in Montana and it likely represents a new species. “It is important to note that paleontology is not a well-funded science,” Pat adds. “Without the support of businesses like Lynden Transport, it would be very difficult to do our work and share our findings with the public. Lynden handled this delivery professionally and punctually. Many thanks to all of the employees who made this possible, including Paul Friese, Justin Uphus, Josh Blake, driver James Johnson and those who dealt with it every step of the way.”