Skip to content

The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum (GPDM) is located in the rich land mass of Northern Montana where some the world’s most preeminent dinosaur fossils have been discovered.  A site and member of the Montana Dinosaur Trail, GPDM maintains permanent exhibits of dinosaurs and other prehistoric fossils to advance the visitors experience, allowing them to appreciate, enjoy and fully understand the rich prehistory  of this region.  The Museum also provides the rare opportunity for both youth and adults to explore, dig and excavate fossils with their staff and paleontologist partners in scheduled educational and dig programs.

The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum (GPDM) is governed and operated by volunteer board members of the Judith River Foundation, Inc.   The Foundation is an IRS exempt 510c3 non-profit corporation established in 2002.  The GPDM is not a municipal entity, is not affiliated with any higher education institutions, receives no general tax support, and is entirely self-funded through membership fees, admissions, dig and tour revenue and fundraising.

GPDM is guided by a mission to curate and prepare paleontological resources for use in educational programs, scientific research and interpretive displays in support of the advancement of knowledge and the benefit of all people.

405 North 1st St East | Malta, Montana (406) 654-5300 [email protected]

The exhibits and displays at the Great Plains Dinosaur Museum focus on the prehistory of Montana and western North America. Emphasizing paleontology from northern Montana, we welcome all visitors to “walk through” the ancient story of this region.

Ralph the Camarasaurus & Giffen the Stegosaur

Highlights of our gallery include the Camarasaurus “Ralph”, and the stegosaur “Giffen”. Both of these fossil specimens are from the Morrison Formation. At approximately 150 million years old, these are some of the geologically oldest dinosaur fossils ever recovered from Montana. Of further scientific importance, “Ralph” is the first Camarasaurus ever found in Montana, and “Giffen” is the northernmost dinosaur fossil ever recovered from the Morrison Formation in North America.

montana ammonite fossil in malta montana


Montana was a Shallow Sea?

Moving through geologic time, the Museum’s gallery jumps ahead to a time when much of middle North America was covered by an inland sea (and inland seas have occurred many times in North America’s ancient past). Swimming in this ancient sea were many familiar sea creatures such as numerous fish and sharks, but the coiled-shelled ammonites (relatives of squid and octopi, but with shells), marine crocodiles, and giant marine reptiles like plesiosaurs and mosasaurs ruled this watery realm. We are home to several large, wonderful ammonite fossils.

The Famous Leonardo – Montana’s Mummy Dinosaur

Further ahead in time we come to an ancient coastal deltaic environment (much like the present day Gulf Coast region). This was the Judith River Formation, and it was home to Phillips County’s famed hadrosaur Brachylophosaurus. Brachylophosaurus lived in vast herds here in ancient Phillips County, and the best specimens of this dinosaur come from here. From “babies” to adults, we have them all. The most complete Brachylophosaurus, “Elvis” (on display at the neighboring Phillips Co. Museum and the Museum of the Rockies) was found about 30 minutes north of Malta. And the most famous dinosaur in the Museum is the Brachylophosaurus “Leonardo”. “Leonardo” is in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most complete “mummy” dinosaur found to-date.

What’s a Mummy Dinosaur?

While we usually think of the mummy’s in Egypt, “mummified” means that the soft parts of a dead animal have been preserved. Leonardo the Mummy dinosaur is one of 4 mummified dinosaurs worldwide. In addition to his bones (like usual) his soft tissue was preserved! Skin, muscles, stomach, and more are all here for us to learn from. Leonardo has taught us more about what Brachylophosaurus were like than any other find!

herb the triceratops in malta montanaHerb the Triceratops – A FULL skeleton

The Museum’s gallery ends with the Hell Creek Formation. Being the last formation from the “Age of Dinosaurs” in western North America, the Hell Creek Formation was home to the famed dinosaurs Triceratops and Tyrannosaurus. Though not as abundant in Phillips County, we have bits and pieces of the Hell Creek Formation here. You can meet Herb, the triceratops

So geologically, our gallery has come nearly full in circle telling much of the story of the “Age of Dinosaurs” from Montana.

Roberta the Brachylophosaurus

Like Leonardo, Roberta is a Brachylophosaurus — a hadrosaurid dinosaur. Roberta is a near-complete skeleton found in life position, a rarity for fossil dinosaurs. She has been kept in life position, in the protective plaster cast she was taken out of the ground in. This way, you can see her exactly as she was when she was excavated.

Back To Top