Friday, July 15, 2011

Where's the Dinosaur Capital?

Picture from Paul Ullmann's Resume


I admit I am geographically challenged. My stories of getting lost are legion.  Given that piece of trivia, where is the capital for dinosaurs? Is it on the map?  I don't remember learning about  it when I studied the state capitals as a kid.

The Hell Creek Formation is a layer of rock found in Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota.  This layer of rock is approximately 65 to 67 million years old, countless dinosaurs and fossils have been found in it.  In Montana one of the most studied areas of the Hell Creek Formation is near Jordan MT.  In 1902 the first T-Rex ever discovered was found near Jordan, MT.

Paleotrek is a Dinosaur Dig in the Hell Creek Formation Outside of Jordan, MT.  It is designed to allow individuals to come and work with scientists on an actual dig for a day or up to the full summer.  It is designed as a summer vacation were you actually help excavate dinosaur specimens.  Dinosaur research is ongoing in this section of the state. The Hell Creek Formation has earned the title "Dinosaur Capital".

Jack Horner, an American paleontologist brings about 40 people out to the Jordan area to hunt for dinosaurs and fossils every summer.  Many of the people who accompany him are his students from Montana State University - Bozeman.  Others are some of the 700 applicants that have asked to do field work as they hunt for dinosaurs with him.   He is the curator for the Museum of the Rockies.

I compared the pictures of the Hell Creek Formation around Jordan with pictures I took of  Alven and Patsy's land.  The other day Alven told me that some students from Concordia carried out bone encased in plaster of paris on a stretcher, near his property.

Alven and Patsy's land

Near Brusett, MT

I wonder where the dinosaurs are hiding?


  1. We just had a huge dinosaur find in the Rockies, near one of the ski resorts. The Museum of Nature and Science paleontologists have been in charge & it's been very exciting to see what's found. Your piece made me wonder what might happen if someone starts digging on your family's property. It's interesting to read what you've said and to compare the sites, which look so similar.

  2. It is probably a double edged sword. The early T-Rex was blasted out with dynamite. Now bones are carefully removed. I would suspect as time goes on they will continue to develop more ways to study the bones and fossils. Hopefully each new process will be gentler to the land.

    Because of all the research on dinosaurs we know more about climate change and extinction than we did before. This knowledge in turn helps us take better care of the world.

    As a kid I went out often with my parents looking for fossils and arrowheads. I can still remember the wonder when I dug fossils from the earth. I see that same wonder in my students as they learn about prehistoric life. I think learning is about the wonder.

  3. This would be a fun place to visit:) there is a beach here in England called Lyme Regis that sometimes show prehistoric dinosaurs along the cliffs. Many people have just stumbled along and discovered bones. I have been twice and haven't had that kind of luck yet:)? Thanks for linking up to the NOBH


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