When was the last time you found yourself in a landscape so quiet that the only sounds came from the wind and birds? Have you ever seen land so vast that the horizon stretched off for 100 miles? Eastern Montana is truly Big Sky Country and home to countless dinosaur specimens.
We offer dinosaur dig programs each year and many other educational opportunities
for both children and adults. Call or ask a staff member at the museum for more information.
Finding them, digging them up, and transporting them to the museum takes extraordinary time, energy, and funds. Without the physical help and financial aid of interested paying participants, these unique summer programs would not be possible.
If you are considering joining a dinosaur dig, it is extremely important that you find out if you are participating with a museum or recognized scientific institution. In Montana there are many dig opportunities offered by outfits that are in fact commercial collectors. These are businesses that legally collect and sell fossils. Many of these commercial organizations do work with paleontologists, partner with museums, take excellent scientific data, and have professionally recognized reputations (such as the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research and Triebold Paleontology, Inc.).
However, some of these businesses are less reputable. They say that they collect exclusively for museums or that all of their fossils go to museums, but unfortunately this is largely not the case. Few museums have the resources to buy these fossils, and many are sold to private collectors; and in turn many of these fossils will never been seen by the public nor contribute to science. These less reputable outfits make twice the money off of guests: guests pay to dig up fossils, and then those fossils are sold. Additionally, some of these organizations claim to be doing active scientific research on these specimens before they go to a museum. It will all look and sound very scientific – but it is the exact opposite. Museums collect specimens so that they can do their own in-house research and/or collaborate with other scientists and institutions. Why would a museum want a specimen that has already been scientifically examined? It’s like someone giving you a gift, but they’ve already opened it and used it. Also, all scientific journals strictly stipulate that specimens must be in museums before any scientific research can be published. This pseudo-research is one way these organizations can inflate their asking price; the illusion of research and scientific importance gives the impression it is more valuable.
One such operation in Montana to be aware of is the Judith River Dinosaur Institute. This business claims that all of their fossils will end up in museums – preferably ones in Montana. This sounds laudable, but as yet, none of these fossils are. But we do hope that one day this does happen. If specific museums or institutions are claimed to house said fossils, contact these institutions for verification. Why spend your time and money with a business that claims it hopes the fossils you dig up go to a museum one day, when you can just partner with a museum in the first place?
Working with a museum is a far more rewarding experience. Often field crews are acknowledged in scientific papers and reports, and more importantly you will be working with scientists directly to collect fossils that will one day go into displays or be the focus of scientific research. By working with museums you will literally be contributing to the future success of the scientific discipline of paleontology. (if you have questions about any paleontology institutions or individuals, we strongly urge you to contact the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology at http://vertpaleo.org/)
- June (Friday June 14th – Tuesday June 18th)
- August (Monday August 26th – Friday August 30th).
We recommend that diggers start on the first day of each session for the introductory tour and training, and stay for however many days you choose.
Non-Museum Member: $230/day. For 3 days or more, $200/day. Museum Member: $210/day. For 3 days or more, $200/day.
For all reservations we require a $200 nonrefundable deposit. (this includes personal and weather related cancellations)
You are responsible for your own travel to Malta, and lodging, breakfast, and dinner in town. A 50% discount is offered to nonparticipating adults who accompany a participating minor.
The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum Supplies:
- sack lunch
- transportation from museum to dig site and back
- all tools and instruction necessary
Recommended Gear You Should Bring:
- small back pack or tote bag
- refillable water bottle
- neck scarf
- light weight clothing
- good boots or hiking shoes (caution with canvas shoes: there is cactus)
- bug spray