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ARIZONA MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY October 20-21, 2010 Total mileage 3540 mi

Dick and Gary Morgan drove to Mesa, Arizona, to examine fossil tortoises and mammals in the collection of the Arizona Museum of
 Natural History. Most of this material was collected at 111 Ranch in the Safford Basin,Graham County, AZ.  Dick wanted to compare museum tortoises in the Mesa collection with those from Blancan-age (early Pleistocene) sites in adjacent parts of New Mexico. The 111 Ranch specimens were collected on government lands near the town of Safford with a permit from the BLM. The most common tortoises in the Mesa museum collection consisted of an undescribed species of large gopher tortoise, related to the gopher tortoises in the southeastern United States and Mexico (not desert tortoises). The specimens were excellently preserved and represented an ample sample for study. The specimens are currently being evaluated by Curator Bob McCord. They appear to be different from the ones that Dick is studying from southcentral New Mexico.  Two other tortoise species were also found in the Mesa collection that represent undescribed species of Hesperotestudo.  Similar specimens are also known from New Mexico.  Dick is attempting to unravel the relationships between these giant tortoises and those from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Florida.  Dick and Gary spent two delightful days at the museum with Bob and his collection manager Gavin. 

Saguaro cactus and other Sonoran desert plants near Mesa AZ

On the way back to Albuquerque, Dick and Gary took pictures of the Sonoran desert.  This plant community grows in desert lands below 3000 feet in elevation.  The two paleontologists left late and arrived in Albuquerque late...Dick got a warning speeding ticket in Slow-go, AZ. 

Surely having nothing to do with cave climbing last week, Dick's back has been out for days.  Now visiting a chiropractor in Albuquerque for relief.  Headed for Texas on Sunday, back permitting.


Giant tortoise (Hesperotestudo) from 111 Ranch site in AZ on display
 in Mesa museum

Gary Morgan and Bob McCord (on right), curator of fossil collection at Arizona Museum of Natural History in Mesa
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