Digging in DakotaNext week the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation and the North Dakota Geological Survey plan to give the public an opportunity to participate in an adventure they don’t usually get to experience.
By: John Odermann, The Dickinson Press
Next week the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation and the North Dakota Geological Survey plan to give the public an opportunity to participate in an adventure they don’t usually get to experience.
They’ll be digging for dinosaur bones just east of Medora in a 60-million-year-old fossil site located in the Badlands.
“I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you dream about as a kid,” said Annette Schilling, public relations and marketing director for Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation.
The dig is scheduled for June 15 to 20 and is being conducted with the assistance and supervision of state paleontologist with John Hogenson, the North Dakota Geological Survey.
The digs on June 15 to 18 are planned for ages 12-and-older and family days are scheduled for June 19 and 20, which will consist of two sessions one each in the morning and afternoon.
Hogenson said the dig is something people don’t get to do every day.
“There aren’t that many opportunities for people to come out and actually experience working on an actual fossil dig,” Hogenson said. “It’s really a great experience for people that are interested in these kinds of things.”
Hogenson and his team of fellow geological survey paleontologists, Jeff Person and Becky Gould will be on hand throughout the dig to help participants do the work, as well as explain to them what they find.
And Hogenson said this particular site is a treasure trove of fossils.
“What’s neat about this site for the people that come out and work with us is everyone finds fossils. It’s so rich,” Hogenson said. “It’s an opportunity for people to come out and really experience what it’s like to be a paleontologist and find these fossil specimens that are 60 million years old.”
The site itself, Hogenson said, is the remains of an old swamp deposit that is more than 60 million years old. Fossils that have been found there so far include crocodiles, champsosaurus (a crocodile-like reptile), several kinds of fish, two or three types of turtles and salamander remains among others, Hogenson said.
The digs haven’t yet uncovered any complete skeletons, Hogenson said, but he’s hopeful it will happen in the future.
The site has been active for the past five years and if it continues to yield fossils of significance, Hogenson said it they’ll keep coming back.
To participate in the dig, interested parties are asked to call TRMF at 800-MEDORA1 to make a reservation. Schilling said space is limited, but slots are still available.
The adult package costs $145 per person, per day and includes the dig, breakfast, a sack lunch and transportation to the site from Medora and back. The family day rate is $30 per person for either the morning or afternoon dig.
Schilling, who will be going on the dig with her nephew, said she’s excited to experience history.
“You’re experiencing history right here and you can take those memories home with you too and those are such unique hands on learning experiences,” Schilling said. “Those are things kids don’t forget. Those are things adults don’t forget.”