Good news and bad news

Sloth Advisors, Volunteers and Friends

Let’s start with the good news. The NSF has awarded the sloth project $20,000 to continue excavation, conduct a detailed osteological analysis of the remains, start exploratory DNA analysis of the adult and two juveniles and provide for an outreach intern to maintain the sloth website and  design teaching materials focused on the sloth analysis. NSF regards this award as preparatory for submittal of another proposal for comprehensive analyses of the sloths including a series of chemical analyses on the bone as well as detailed studies of associated seeds, pollen and depositional environments at the time the sloths died. We are pleased to continue our association with NSF.

The bad news is water. As you know the Shenandoah area has been declared a disaster area. I hesitate to hazard another guess about when we will be able to dig again. Bob tells me that water in the Tarkio was up to his picnic table, our staging and overlook area, last week. That’s 30 feet above the sloth. It has dropped to 8 feet but the current is too fast to construct new levees (we will use an excavator for this). It may be late summer or early fall before things dry up as predicted. The NSF grant runs for two years so we have time. Also, NSF tells me that a 6 month extension is easy to get. That gives us through summer 2010 to recover the critters. Hopefully, the sloth-bearing unit, which is resistant to erosion, has not been materially damaged.  Holmes