Published June 15, 2009, 07:38 AM

Public fossil dig being held in Badlands

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation and North Dakota Geological Survey are giving the public an opportunity to participate in an adventure they don’t usually get to experience.

By: By John Odermann , The Dickinson Press, The Jamestown Sun

MEDORA, N.D. (AP) — The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation and North Dakota Geological Survey are giving the public an opportunity to participate in an adventure they don’t usually get to experience.

They’ll be digging for dinosaur bones just east of Medora in a 60-million-year-old fossil site located in the Badlands.

“I think it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you dream about as a kid,” said Annette Schilling, spokeswoman for the foundation.

The dig is scheduled Monday through Saturday. It is being conducted under the supervision of state paleontologist John Hoganson.

The digs Monday through Thursday are for people age 12 and older. Family days are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

“There aren’t that many opportunities for people to come out and actually experience working on an actual fossil dig,” Hoganson said. “It’s really a great experience for people that are interested in these kinds of things.”

Hoganson and paleontologists Jeff Person and Becky Gould will be on hand throughout the dig to help participants do the work and to explain what they find.

Hoganson said this particular site is a treasure trove of fossils.

“What’s neat about this site for the people that come out and work with us is everyone finds fossils. It’s so rich,” he said. “It’s an opportunity for people to come out and really experience what it’s like to be a paleontologist and find these fossil specimens that are 60 million years old.”

The site is the remains of an old swamp. Fossils that have been found there include crocodiles, a crocodile-like reptile known as a champsosaurus, several kinds of fish, two or three types of turtles and salamander remains, Hoganson said.

The digs have not yet uncovered any complete skeletons. Hoganson said he’s hopeful that will happen in the future.

The site has been active the past five years. If it continues to yield fossils of significance, paleontologists will keep coming back, Hoganson said.

Schilling said she will be going on the dig with her nephew.

“You’re experiencing history right here, and you can take those memories home with you, too, and those are such unique hands-on learning experiences,” she said. “Those are things kids don’t forget. Those are things adults don’t forget.”

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