If you’re interested in dinosaurs and want to participate in a real dig, this is the trip for you! This week-long session will give you a wide range of experiences in the basic principles and techniques of geology and paleontology. Training and collecting supplies will be provided by Cincinnati Museum Center staff under the direction of Dr. Glenn Storrs, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology.
You’ll learn to extract dinosaur fossils from rock using hand tools, how to gather and document field data and how to “field jacket” the fossils in burlap and plaster for shipment to the museum. You’ll come to understand the dramatic and beautiful regional geology through field trips and informal lectures.
The experience is open to adults and teens, ages 13-17 who are accompanied by an adult. You will be working outdoors and living in a rustic camp setting in mountainside cabins. We are working along the northwestern flank of the Bighorn Mountains of south-central Montana on public land administered by the Bureau of Land Management of the U.S. Department of the Interior.
South-central Montana is one of the most beautiful parts of the country, but many places there are still quite wild. You should be prepared for a variety of weather conditions, as the field site is located in the high desert at about 4,000 feet above sea level. Our cabins are in the foothills of the Beartooth Range at closer to 7,000 feet. Days can be hot, but thunderstorms accompanied by strong winds do occur. Nights can be quite cool.
NOTE: This field experience requires moderate physical exertion in rugged terrain. Although little hiking or climbing is required, you should be in reasonably good physical shape. Please discuss this trip with your physician and heed any precautionary advice your doctor may offer.
Sample Dinosaur Field School Itinerary from the 2011 trip
Day 1: Arrive in Billings/Red Lodge. If flying, a staff member will collect you as a group and drive you to the beautiful mountainside town of Red Lodge. Accommodations are at the Yellowstone Bighorn Research Association (YBRA), a log-cabin research facility with a commanding view and excellent home cooking. Following cabin assignments and dinner in Fanshaw Lodge, an evening orientation will outline the basics of regional geology and local history.
Day 2: After a hearty breakfast, board a van for the 30-mile trip to the excavation site. A leisurely trip will allow discussion of local historic sites and observation of geology pertinent to fossil preservation, dinosaur evolution and extinction. A hike to a scenic ridge overlooking the fossil site will place the project in perspective. After lunch, we will begin site orientation, learn prospecting techniques, bone identification and collecting methods. After this and each workday, we will return to YBRA for a hot shower, fine meal and evening socializing.
Days 3–6: Participants continue fieldwork, exploration, and discovery, interspersed with discussions about dinosaur research. By the end of the week, you will have learned about the landscape 150 million years ago, personally collected dinosaur fossils for Museum Center's research and exhibit programs and pushed back the frontiers of science as an active participant in an ongoing dinosaur research program. After dinner on our last evening, you will have an opportunity to enjoy the famous pig races at the historic Bear Creek Saloon!
Day 7: Breakfast at camp, followed by departure. The van will return you to Billings, if needed. Please try to schedule any flights home for the afternoon, so that no one is rushed for time.