More bones and the difficulties of finding new dinosaur sites

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I have had the privilege of working a number of dinosaur dig sites here in the United States and in South Africa. My involvement with the Burpee Museum and our site in Hanksville, Utah, has been one of the biggest privileges of my paleontological career. When you are this close to the bones and to a site that yields years and probably decades worth of well-preserved specimens, you sometimes lose sight of how special this all is.

Below is just a recent example of one small segment of the Hanksville-Burpee quarry and what we are finding — bones to most of the skeleton of a juvenile Diplodocus.

Today, Utah paleontologists Dr. Jim Kirkland and Scott Madsen joined up with the WIU and Burpee crews and volunteers to go prospecting for new sites. We had good information and a lot of hope for some good sites … but, as often happens in field paleontology, we ended up empty-handed. This is not the fault of these paleontologists or anyone else — but it goes to show that finding fossils in the field is difficult work and holds no guarantees.

What these sorts of experiences cement for me is how fortunate we are to find sites like the Hanksville-Burpee quarry, to have a community that supports our efforts, and to have the privilege to see the bones of some of the most remarkable animals to have lived on earth.

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