The dinosaur beds of the western United States have produced fossils since paleontology was in its infancy here in North America. These fossils fill museum galleries and collections facilities at research institutions around the world. Our field localities in the Lance and Hell Creek geologic formations preserve a 66 million year old lost world, full of dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus rex, Triceratops, and Edmontosaurus. These were quite literally some of the last dinosaurs to live on earth, just before the massive extinction event. By examining the fossil bones, teeth, and tracks of these animals along with other fossil evidence of the environment they inhabited, we will learn what life was like here on these ranches just before dinosaurs went extinct. Each fossil has a story to tell and our program is aimed at helping students decipher and understand these stories.
Each of our students will make original fossil discoveries that not only help them engage directly with science, but also help advance our collective understanding of ancient pre-history. Fossils found by our former students are on display in major museums and have even been featured in scientific publications. Our goal is to collect research-quality fossils for our colleagues at these museums, like the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. One of the strengths of the program is that it gives students the chance to become actual contributing members of a scientific community. The only thrill bigger than watching a student uncover an amazing fossil is letting them know that their finds are being put on display or used in research.
We will also collect fossils on privately owned ranch land which students will be able to take home to share with friends, family, and classmates. This will be at the discretion of the program staff and the land-owners, who will ensure that each student gets to add something incredible to their collection.