This July, faculty members Simon Masters and Sally Hudak took a group of students interested in paleontology to Montana to experience a real dinosaur excavation.
Greetings from Simon and me and our crew!
We are half way through our second day of driving. Presently we are on I 90 in southern Minnesota, headed for Chamberlain, South Dakota.
Yesterday was a grueling day of stopped traffic starting in western Indiana and continuing through most of Illinois. The girls were troopers. No complaining, even considering the ten hour drive. Mrs. Whelan's huge bag of goodies got us through. We stopped for the night in Rockford Il. Dinner was at Lino's Italian restaurant where we had delicious pizza.
We are all doing great. We arrived at Camp Needmore last evening after a long drive from Chamberlain, South Dakota. We made a stop at Mt. Rushmore and the girls loved it. We had lunch at the Carver's Cafe then onward to Montana. It truly is Big Sky Country. We had a light dinner and heard a lecture by the Director of Science and Exhibits at the Burpee Museum of Natural History.
Today was our first day out at one of the dig sites. Our girls were awesome and held up well in the 101 degree heat. We found some interesting specimens, Dino bone fragments, teeth, jaw bone fragments etc. that are 66 million years old.
Another lecture tonight and more digging tomorrow.
That's all for now.
We are all doing great out here in Montana. A well needed thunder storm came through last night so our digging at the Hell's Creek Formation was delayed until the afternoon. The roads and ground can turn into slippery mud when it rains. We drove into Ekalaka, population 300, our closest town, to give the roads a chance to dry out. While in town we visited the Carter County Museum. We viewed collections relating to Ekalaka's pioneer history, Native American artifacts, rocks and minerals from the area and a small but good collection of fossils and dinosaur exhibits from the Hell's Creek Formation.
The dig went well today. The temperature was a comfortable 93 degrees. Our girls all found some interesting fossils during our digging and we hiked up and down some fairly steep hills. We are all staying well hydrated.
The girls are wonderful; so enthused about every aspect of the trip. They even got into last night's presentation given by Thomas Holtz PHD, an internationally known expert on Tyronasauras Rex.
I am emailing from the Ekalaka Library which is the only place to get wifi.
I am sending photos but they cannot do this country justice.
Yesterday we had a rainy day as it had stormed overnight, (which is amazing to see in Big Sky Country,) and continued to rain during the day. When it rains out here the earth turns into a sticky mess because of all the clay-like soil.
We took the opportunity to drive an hour and a half down to Devil's Tower in Wyoming. It was a beautiful drive and gave us the chance to see some different geologic layers and formations. Devil's Tower is a National Monument and you may remember it from the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. We took photos from near and far and did a lovely short hike through some Ponderosa Pines with a view of the tower. The visitors’ center and the gift shop were a hit with the girls. They even earned their Devil's Tower Junior Ranger Badges. It was a fun and exciting day and we made it back to camp in time for the pork shoulder dinner and later a presentation by Dr. Holly Woodward from Oklahoma State on the Histology of bone in Maiasaura. It was our favorite so far. Off to bed after that however, I ended up trying to chase down a tiny mouse that had found its way into the girl's cabin.
The Bone Diggers had a special treat last night. We were invited to view the Carter County Museum's collection and prep lab last night after dinner instead of a presentation by Dr. Mark Goodwin from UC Berkeley. The girls were very excited to get to see the part of their collection which is not on view to the public. The highlight was the giant Triceratops skull. We have had many similar amazing experiences; rubbing shoulders will some of the superstars in the Paleontology world.