Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

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Originally, in 1842, the word dinosaur was coined by Richard Owen to mean "fearfully great, a lizard."  Since then the term has typically been taken to mean "terrible lizard."  However, the more we study the bones, the more we realize that these were truly amazing and wonderful and "fearfully great" creatures.

For a number of years, Southwestern Adventist University has been conducting a dinosaur excavation research project in the Lance Formation of eastern Wyoming.

We are quarrying in an extremely rich bone bed finding the remains of a number of upper Cretaceous dinosaurs.  The project provides exciting experience in the quarrying techniques and the joy of discovery for everyone that participates.

The primary research purpose is a taphonomic study of the deposit.  Taphonomy is that aspect of paleontology that is concerned with how the remains became fossilized; this is, how the creatures died and their bones became part of the fossil record.  In short, we wish to learn how this assemblage of remains came about.

In order to reach this primary taphonomic research purpose it is essential to locate, carefully record the exact location, and identify each bone that is found, then to excavate and stabilize each for transport to the lab for additional preservation and study.  A number of exciting techniques that have not been utilized before or in combination make this project a state-of-the-art research effort:

 • use of high precision GPS equipment to measure and record the location of each bone
 • GIS software to analyze and produce an integrated picture of each quarry
 • a web-based fossil catalog so that the results may be available for researchers world-wide

The Dinosaur Project optionally offers college credit hours to students who may earn four semester hours of college lab science credit by registering for the corresponding class.  Teachers may earn Professional Development credits.

We welcome all interested participants:  those with paleontology experience; those without any excavation experience; students; teachers; all humans!

2025 Expedition

Saturday, 0 through Saturday, 0

Leave Keene, travel by van to Wyoming, then return at the end.
Or meet the group at the project site!

We will be on-site on , January 1 until Friday, -1, 2025.

Class activities will begin Wednesday morning, January 4.

Thursday, -2 is our last day in the quarries.

Come dig with us!

 join in the experience! 

Previous Expeditions, 1997—2024

 brief year-by-year summary 

 2024 notes from the field 

 come and visit the bones! 

site designed and built by Justin Woods and Lawrence Turner, 2003; redesigned by Lawrence Turner, 2012          

© 2001-2024 by Southwestern Adventist University and Earth History Research Center