NDGS hosts fossil dig in Medora

Partial gar-pike skeleton was found at the Medora dig site with black diamond-shaped scales visible. (Photo courtesy of North Dakota Geological Survey)

This Saturday from 12:30 pm to 5:00 pm, the North Dakota Geological Survey and the Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation will sponsor a dig in the Sentinel Butte Formation in Medora for interested members of the public.

The Sentinel Butte Formation is about 55-60 million years old. After the dinosaurs went extinct, the environment became swampy. Today, fossils of crocodiles, giant salamanders, fish, clams, snails and more can be found there.

The digging is not very strenuous, as there is very little hiking involved to reach the location, and once there, it is a quarry site where paleontologists often dig. Some shovel or pickax work is to be expected.

Those interested in participating should bring plenty of water, lunch, hat and sunglasses. Cameras are permitted; large coolers are not, as there is not a lot of extra room in the passenger van taking diggers to the site.

While it is possible to find a whole animal fossil, it is much more likely to find pieces such as a crocodile tooth or a turtle rib.


Fossils diggers find on site cannot be taken home and will be given to the state fossil collection in Bismarck.

The cost to register is $15 per person. The NDGS sponsors several digs throughout the summer in various locations, including full day, morning and afternoon sessions. See their Facebook page for more dates.

Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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