Dino Digs

Saturday Science: Mini Dino Dig

Dino Dig Game Saturday Science Grab your chisel and brushes. Bring your curiosity and your brain. It’s time to go on a dino dig – a mini dino dig, that is! For this week’s Saturday Science, we’re bringing the excitement of a real dinosaur dig site to your home. Dig for dinos, map their bones and discover what real paleontologists find when they're searching for fossils!  

 

Materials:

  • Rice

  • Fake dinosaur bones or objects to bury

  • Plastic containers or boxes (one for each little paleontologist)

  • Tweezers

  • Spoons

  • Grid paper

  • Pencils

  • Masking tape

 

Process:

  1. Set up the dig site!

    1. Arrange your plastic containers side by side so that they represent the grid of a dinosaur dig site.

    2. Label each container.

    3. Place one or two fake dinosaur bones inside each plastic container.

    4. Fill each container with rice.

    5. On an empty wall or the floor, use masking tape to recreate your dig site. Make sure to label each section so that your dig site matches the plastic containers. Each section should be the size of the grid paper.

  2. Start digging!

    1. Give each little paleontologist his or her own container and explain that each container is a section of the grid on the wall or floor.

    2. Have your paleontologists dig for the dinosaur bones with their tools. They should use the spoon first, adding each spoonful of rice to a separate container that’s out of the way. Once they hit bone, have them switch to the tweezers and finish uncovering the dinosaur bone.  

  3. Map the bones!

    1. Paleontologists never remove a bone from a dig site before it’s been mapped. Now it’s your kiddos’ turn! Once they uncover a bone, have them draw a picture of it on a piece of grid paper.

    2. When they’re finished drawing, place the grid paper in the corresponding section of the dig site on the wall or floor.  

  4. What was found?

    1. When every little paleontologist is finished with their digs, have each kid describe what was discovered in the dig pit.

    2. Based on where the bones were found and their size, which bones might be from the same dinosaur?

 

Summary:

You just simulated a real dinosaur dig!

 

Just like your dig site, paleontologists always divide their site into a grid so that the scientists and researchers can focus on one area. It’s a tedious process to dig out dinosaur bones. Your spoon represented a clam shucker, which is used first to remove the matrix around the bones. As soon as a bone is found, diggers switch to X-Acto knives and brushes, or in our case, tweezers. This is to protect bones and make sure nothing gets damaged.

 

Did you find a complete dinosaur? If not, don’t worry! Not only do paleontologists rarely find a complete dinosaur in a dinosaur dig, but they also find bones from one dig that are from different dinosaurs. Whether you found a complete dinosaur or bones from all types of dinosaurs, you still found dinosaur bones! How cool is that?!  

 
Want more Saturday Science? See all of our at-home activities on the blog or on Pinterest.

How to Re-pour the Dino Dig Pit

Your kids love it. They race to the exhibit, put on their goggles, grab a brush, and start digging! It's the dino dig pit in Dinosphere! But what happens when those aspiring paleontologists actually unveil the fossils? What will future visitors do?

This actually happens quite often. About every month and a half our young visitors uncover the fossils in the dino dig pit and we have to cover them back up. The process for doing that is a unique one. The Children's Museum of Indianapolis is all about AUTHENTIC experiences. So instead of using sand, which wouldn't give a true digging experience, we invented our own trade secret. In This Week's WOW, Dino Josh reveals how it's done . . . take a look:



And if that's not real enough for you, families and adults can actually travel with museum experts to Faith, South Dakota to dig for dinosaur fossils at the Ruth Mason Quarry, the largest fossil bed of duck-billed dinosaurs in the world. It's a once-in-a-lifetime adventure! Digs are on sale now: http://www.childrensmuseum.org/dino-digs.  Happy digging!

Digging for Dinosaurs - You will be WOWed.


One of the things that makes The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis the biggest and best in the world is its ability to extend learning beyond the walls of 3000 N. Meridian Street. In fact, every summer, museum staff and paleontologists escape the Dinosphere dome and travel all the way to the Badlands of South Dakota where they dig for real dinosaur bones! And the best part? You can do it too. That’s right, families, teachers and adults are all invited to register for single or multiple days of dino digging fun. And yes, we find stuff. Lots of stuff.

 

For example…

Last summer we found over 200 65 million year old specimen including Nano-tyranous teeth, femora from school bus sized Edmontosaurus annectens (aka Duckbill Dinosaur), ribs, mandible pieces and so much more! 

 

Check out This Week’s WOW to see what a day at the dig site looks like and learn the answer to the question Just what happens to all those fossils once they’ve been discovered and can I use mine as a paper weight?

 

 

To learn more or to register for this summer’s dig, click here.

Big Clues in Little Fossils

By Dallas Evans, Natural Science Educator/Curator

The pursuit of dinosaurs can entail some hot days, hard labor, and very heavy lifting.  We are lucky to discover and uncover the bones of duckbill dinosaurs at the Ruth Mason Quarry in South Dakota. This remote dig site contains bones by the 1000s, and almost all of them are from the same type of dinosaur—the Edmontosaurus.

These dinosaurs are big.  A full grown Edmontosaurus would weigh as much as 4 tons and be as big as a school bus. But after nearly 10 years of digging at this site, we often want to excavate something that’s different, and well, smaller. 

One of our curators, William Ripley, specializes in the search for “micro fossils.”

William Ripley excavating large dinosaur bonesIt’s a simple yet painstaking process.  William gathers large samples of the rock matrix from where we find the dinosaur bones. He takes it back to the museum and soaks it in water so that it breaks down into a thick, gooey mud. Then he washes all that mud through a screen. After it dries he looks at the remaining debris to locate any of the small fossils.

It takes a very special kind of person to spend long hours sorting through debris in the search for micro fossils. And by all accounts William is considered a very special person. He extols the importance of Danish death metal music, World War 2 re-enactment, and chocolate pudding pie, all while looking for tiny fossil bones and teeth.  But he finds some amazing stuff.

He has found small bones from big dinosaurs like Triceratops, T. rex  and Ankylosaur.  And he’s found the small bones from small dinosaurs too—like Pachycephalosaur, Dromaeosaur and Troodon.

Teeth from the small predatory dinosaur called Troodon.His research has shown that where we dig was once a near shore, delta-like environment.   William has discovered fish scales, ray and shark teeth, and even crocodile & turtle bones. 

It takes a sharp eye to find fossils that are often no larger than a dime. And amazingly, it’s these smaller specimens that help fill in the details about the larger dinosaurs. These tiny fossils provide significant clues about the environment in which the duckbill dinosaurs lived.

You and your family can actually join William and myself this summer on one of these digs in Faith, South Dakota. They are an extraordinary family learning vacation opportunity . . . you just might find something, big or small!

Dinosaurs Just Got a Whole Lot Cooler

It's all hands on deck at our Dinosaur dig site in Faith South Dakota!Every summer The Children's Museum of Indianapolis takes family learning to a whole new level and ventures out to the Badlands of South Dakota in pursuit of 65 million year old dinosaur fossils.  True to the museum's mission of creating extraordinary learning opportunities for children and families, we make sure that it's not just the professionals that get to have all the fun—you can go on this museum adventure too!  That's right, whether you're a child who roars or a grown up who still gets geeked at the sight of a dinosaur skeleton (or you're someone who has a child or grown up that does), a day or 2 at a real working dig site might be the perfect family vacation idea for you.

Your adventure will start in Faith, SD, population 489.  At 8 a.m. you will jump into Moby, the great white van, and then go off-roading to the Ruth Mason Quarry where you will be greeted and trained by our fearless leaders Dallas and William. You'll get down and dirty, utilizing the tools of the trade—clam shuckers and exactos—and learn how to tell the difference between iron concretions and 65 million year old fossils.  Trust me, it's not always easy but you'll be a pro by the end of the day. You will also learn the very cool art of mapping your finds. Last year we collected 191 fossils and William can tell you exactly where and how each one was found, thanks to all of the excellent maps that were created by our diggers. 

When your digging days are over, never fear because the learning and adventure don't have to end.  Once the fossils have made the journey back to the museum, families can arrange times with the Paleo Lab to come in and work on their fossils.  You can actually go behind the Paleo Lab window where all the cool stuff happens and learn how to clean and prepare your finds.  You'll get to wear the coats and goggles and everything!

Our 2011 Dig dates are July 1–8 and families with little ones 8 and older can register for 1 or 2 days.  Visit here for more information on one of the coolest opportunities ever.

We Dug It!

By Nicole Schoville, Family & Neighborhood Programs Coordinator

Did you know that every summer The Children's Museum of Indianapolis takes families and teachers on Dinosaur Digs in Faith, South Dakota?  Days are spent digging for 65 million year-old dinosaur bones while under the supervision of Museum Paleontologists.  This summer we were out there with about 100 folks, spread out over 2 weeks, locating, mapping, and excavating fossils.

It took a while, but we have officially counted up all of our prehistoric  finds and the grand total is ...

191!

All from the Late Cretaceous period (65 million years ago), many of the fossils that we find come from Edmontosaurus annectens, otherwise known as the ‘Duckbill’.  Families and teachers worked to unearth 5 fibulae and 3 tibia, along with quite a few skull elements, ribs and vertebrae.  The 'Biggest Find'  award goes to a one meter long fibula pictured here:

Families and teachers worked tirelessly for 2 weeks to unearth this 2 foot tibia and meter long fibula!

William (Children's Museum Paleontologist) was especially geeked - er, excited - about our non-Edmontosaurus material that was collected, like gar fish and crocodile.  Some other findings that were especially cool for the Paleo Guys were:

3 Nanotyrannus teeth

possible Troodon bone

A prehistoric snail

You may be asking yourself Why are these non-Edmontosaurus finds cool? Well, we went straight to the source and here is what Dallas (Children's Museum Paleontologist) had to say:

The non-Edmontosaur material at the dig site is always very significant.   It tells us much more of the environment that these animals lived in.  These associated materials provide clues about the climate & biodviersity of the Late Cretaceous.

You also might be wondering What happens to the fossils that are found at the site?

Most fossils found while surface collecting may be kept by digging participants, however, fossils excavated at the dig site become property of The Children's Museum; they will be taken to the museum's Paleo Prep Lab. Dig participants are helping the museum excavate fossils that will be prepared in the lab in Dinosphere. Diggers may return to the museum throughout the year to help prep and clean bones for research.

As we continue to count, clean, and research our summer finds, stay tuned for breaking news on the 2011 Digs.  Be the first to register by signing up for our dig e-news.  In the mean time, Dallas and William and the rest of the Dinosphere Crew will be looking forward to seeing you soon!

For some fun family reading, check out this article about two new species of horned dinosaurs that have been discovered - Maybe you could be the next discoverer!

And We Say Goodbye…

Day 5 of the teacher dig arrived with cloudy skies.  The clouds cleared quickly and the heat and humidity made it one of the hottest digging days.

As the teachers continued digging, more bones were found.  William was very busy helping map the finds, pulling them out of the ground, and wrapping them for safe transport back to the museum.

Everyone continued to dig in to the walls and bring them down.  Another nano T-Rex tooth was found – that brings the count to 3 for the year.  As the diggers worked to get the found bones out of the ground, they continued to discover other bones.  A tibia and a fibula were found today and are in a criss-cross position, one on top of the other.  Despite the best digging efforts, they had to be left in the ground.  The guys will finish digging them out after we are gone.  

The day moved by pretty quickly and before we knew it, it was time to clean up for the last time.  Everyone was reluctant to pack it in for the year.  Digging takes a lot of patience and when something is found, the finder wants get it out of the ground.  It was hard to leave the bones behind.

After we got back to town, Rick continued some lessons with the new diggers.  They had the chance to do some casting – an edmontosaurus toe bone and a T-Rex tooth. 

All the teachers made their way to the local restaurant, Chances Are, for our last Faith dinner.  Everyone looks different after the layers of dirt have been removed at the end of the day. 

Dallas and William will stay at the site for another week and work to get the exposed bones out of the ground.  Then they will make their way back to Indiana, with all of the discovered bones. 

We’ll see you next year!

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down

The weather cooperated with the diggers today – partly cloudy and in the 80s with a breeze.  Perfect day for digging and it was a busy one.

The first time dig teachers joined the returning teachers at the dig site today.  There are 6 new diggers, and they got right in there for their chance to find a bone.  The new diggers were paired up with experienced diggers so they could learn the ropes.  We have quite a wealth of experience on the dig this year – 11 returning diggers with 38 years of collective Children’s Museum dig experience between them.  Wow!  They have spent a lot of time searching for bones.

The new diggers are eager to talk with the returners to learn how they incorporate dinosaurs and their dig trips into their classrooms.  Each teacher uses the knowledge they have gained on the dig in a different way.  The conversations will continue on the Teacher Community of Inquiry after the 2010 dig is completed.

Some of the larger bones found earlier in the dig need to be uncovered so that field jackets can be applied before they can be removed from the ground.  This requires a lot of work as the earth above and behind the bones must be removed.  Several diggers spent a good portion of their day bringing down the walls of dirt.  Often, when the walls come tumbling down other bones are discovered in the wall. 

Dallas and William – "the paleo guys” were busy today recording, mapping, and pulling bones out of the ground.  The bone count for Monday was 23 – among them a nano tooth!  This is the second nano tooth found this year and is from the Nanotryannus (‘dwarf tyrant’) a genus of tyrannosaurid dinosaur, and is possibly a juvenile specimen of Tyrannosaurus.  One of the other unique bones found today was a coudal vertebra with part of the spine still attached.  Several other bones had field jackets applied and will be removed from the ground in the morning.

The teachers have one more day of digging and then we’ll have to say goodbye until next year.

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

The teachers continue to uncover bone after bone at the dig site.  We arrive at the site each morning and everyone grabs their tools and they get right to work.  Occasionally it doesn’t take long to hear that clink of the knife against the bone.  It’s an unmistakable sound and is exciting to see what the dirt will reveal. 

The site has revealed a variety of bones over the past few days.  Many of these have been carefully mapped, removed, and packaged for safe transport back to The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis.  Other bones remain in the ground – they either need to continue to be uncovered or need a field jacket on them before they are removed.

 The teachers have found the following bones:

  • Maxilla – jaw
  • Squamosal – skull
  • Fibulas – leg
  • Tibias – leg
  • Jugals – cheek
  • Neural arch – vertebra
  • Scapula – shoulder blade
  • Ribs

In addition to the Edmontosaurus bones that have been found, some microfossils have been found – gastropods, gar fish scales.  Amber, teeth and tendons continue to show up as the teachers work to reveal the bones.

On Saturday night, a group of the teachers decided to experience some of the local culture.  They climbed back in to the van for a short trip to Dupree, South Dakota.  They attended the Dupree Pioneer Days 2010 rodeo where they watched traditional rodeo competitions. 

Sunday brought the arrival of a cold front and temps were around 50 degrees as we headed to the dig site.  The cold front also brought clouds with the cooler temperature and we watched the rain clouds roll in throughout the day.  It started sprinkling just before we headed back to the ranch for lunch and then became heavier as we headed back to the site for the afternoon.  We were able to get in another hour or so of digging before we had to call it a day.  We headed back to town and met up with the group of new dig teachers at the hotel.  It stopped raining by that time and we headed out to the site where Bucky, the teenage T-rex was found and spent some time doing some surface collecting.  Everyone found something – fossilized sequoia, bone fragments, interesting rocks, and petrified wood.

We are hoping for cool temperatures and clear skies for our final two days of digging.

Teachers Dig It!

The families have finished their dig experiences and the teachers began digging today.

Two groups of teacher diggers are in South Dakota.  One group is comprised of 6 teachers and they are new diggers.  This means they haven’t participated in a Children’s Museum dig in the past.  Rick Crosslin met them in the Rapid City airport today and they are off to several adventures in Hill City, South Dakota.  They will spend time at The Journey Museum, The Mammoth Site, the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, and the Badlands National Park.  After they have been fully immersed in the world of paleontology, they will head to the dig site in Faith where they will dig for two days.

The other group is comprised of 11 teachers and they are returning diggers.  These teachers have all participated in a Children’s Museum dig in the past and they are returning to dig for 5 days.  Yep, 5 days!  They have a passion for digging dinos.  Many of the teachers in this group can also be seen volunteering in the Paleo Prep Lab at the museum.

The day began at 8 am as we loaded the van and headed to the ranch.  Once we arrived at the site, everyone found a spot and began digging.  Everyone worked hard and quite a few bones were uncovered throughout the day.  Some of them were mapped and removed.  Others remain in the ground and will continue to be uncovered in the next few days.

We were able to remove 5 bones today –a Neural Arch and a Neural Spine along with a Quadrate (skull bone,) a rib, and a Chevron, which is part of the tail.  All of these bones are from Edmonstosaurus annectens - a genus of crestless duck-billed dinosaur.

One of the great finds of the day currently contains 6 different bones, some on top of the others and some located nearby.  Check back for details on what bones are there and what others might be uncovered.

Day 7 - Digging the Last Day

On the last day of the Family Digs, we were hard at work trying to finish up excavations of the week's discoveries while making some new ones.  Pictured below is the cool find of the day - can you guess what it is?

Some of you may have guessed but we'll go ahead and tell the rest of you - It's a Nanotyrannus tooth!  William was especially excited about this find made by Isaac's mom Melinda.  The Nanotryannus ('dwarf tryant') is a genus of tyrannosaurid dinosaur, and is possibly a juvenile specimen of Tyrannosaurus. It's always interesting to find carnivorous teeth in the midst of herbivorous bones because it gives us insight as to what dinosaurs might have dined on the Edmontosaurus.

As you can see from the above picture, the families were hard at work up to the very last minute of digging time.  We were up to ears in plastering and once again, everyone walked away with their names on something, either from discovery, excavation, or both.  Cheryl and Clay worked tirelessly for 2 days on the fibula, getting it to where it will be ready to be jacketed by the teachers.  While patiently working to 'take the wall down' to the level of the fibula, they ran across a number of more bones and they even found a rib bone with teeth marks.

We hate to say good-bye to the last of our families and to our friends in Faith, and we are already looking forward to next year.  We will continue to post updates throughout the year so check back and find out what we're up to and what you need to plan for.  We wish the teachers luck in their digging adventures and can't wait to see what they find so stay tuned!

Day 6 - Digging Bones, Lots of Them.

Sunny days are here again so we headed out to the site with van loads of excited families.  Luckily, some of the families who were with us the day before at the Black Hills Institute had signed up for 2 days of digging and so they were able to still get some dig-time in.  We started out with the usual surface collecting and even though this is done every day, it never ceases to amaze us what is found in the very places we're so used to looking!  Today was especially surprising because 10-year old Joshua found a 65-million year old crocodile tooth!

Once we got to the site and down to digging, the day seemed to pass quickly.  The museum staff was quite busy going from one digger to the next, as they uncovered a great number of bones.  It almost seemed like they were making up for lost time and a day of digging missed as Mike and Kate uncovered 5, and Ashley and Laura uncovered 5 or 6!  Once again, not all of the finds were able to be unearthed by the end of the digging day as several were large enough that they needed to be jacketed and plastered - a process that takes at least 24 hours to complete.  All of the bones are carefully wrapped and mapped before they are transported back to the lab for further research.

As you can see from the group shot below, our Day 6 Diggers were in great (and silly) spirits when the day came to an end.  They worked hard and had fun, and everyone came away from the site with their name on something.  Only one day left of digging with the families and then Melissa and Rick will be arriving with the teachers!

Day 5 - Digging the Black Hills Institute

We awoke to Day 5 with gray skies and rain.  Once we got confirmation from the ranch owners that our roads out to the site were unnavigable, we implemented 'Plan B'.  Plan B was a trip down to Hill City for a behind-the-scenes look at The Black Hills Institute of Geological Research.  There we received an exclusive tour, given by Pete Larson who is most famous for the excavation of Sue the T.rex.  He took us where few others are able to go:  Into the labs, the paint shops, and where the molding and casting of all their specimens take place.

Pictured above is an impression of fossilized Triceratops skin!   This fossil skin was found with an amazing Triceratops dinosaur nicknamed LANE.

This is a Brachylophosaurus that was found in Moulton, Montana.  They call him a 'Mummy Dino' due to how intact he was upon discovery.  This one is interesting because scientists could see that he was 'T.rex food' due to healed bite wounds discovered along the top side.

When we're out at our site digging, it can sometimes be difficult to imagine what our fossils might have looked like, all put together 65 million years ago.  Fossilized ribs and tendons are common finds for us so for those folks who have been digging with us, this an especially cool specimen to view up close because it's easy to see the ribs and tendons in tact.

All in all it was a good day with a lots of cool discoveries and family learning.  We were happy and privileged that Pete took us on the tour and he answered lots of questions from the eager young minds of some budding paleontologists.  Our families are pictured above with Pete with the original STAN the T.rex.

Day 4 - Digging Surprises

One of the best things about digging is the fact that once your digging tool hits the dirt you have no idea what you're going to find.  The recognizable 'crunch' that's heard when metal meets fossil is just enough to produce tiny little goosebumps and a quick rush that can only come when you know that you've found something.   What that something is takes time to uncover and often times is not what it seems at first.  A quarter of an inch of exposed fossil could be anything from fossilized tendon, to parts of a skull, a toe, or something bigger like a femur or fibula.  That being said, today's 'big finds' did not necessarily come from new finds, but they actually came from previous finds which were as of today, redefined.  As Day 4 diggers continued to work on fossils left by Day 2, some suprising discoveries were made...

Surprise # 1: We would like to officially change the classification of Friday’s Scapula to a pubis bone – one of the pelvic or hip bones.  This was discovered as the size of the scapula increased while it was being uncovered by a series of folks over the past couple of days.  Today it was Sean, Jordan and Jayne who did the final unearthing.  You see, digging is a collaborative effort.  It might take one person to find a bone but it could possibly take a small village to unearth it.

Surprise # 2: Today’s digging also uncovered more – and finally the end of – Friday’s tibia.  Or so we thought.  Once again, we would like to change that classification to a large fibula.  We’re talking a 3 ½ to 4 foot fibula folks and it’s awesome.  Even cooler was the fact that as the fibula was being uncovered, another ‘very large bone’ seemed to be hiding behind it.  Stay tuned to see how that one unfolds.

As always, we’re crossing our digits that the blue skies and cool breezes keep up the good work.   We could not dig without them.

Day 3 - Digging the 4th

Happy 4th of July from Faith!

Day 2 - SD Discovery Digging


This year The Children’s Museum partnered with the South Dakota Discovery Center in Pierre, SD, and we welcomed a group of their members on our second day of digging.  It was nice to host the South Dakotans as they trekked from Pierre to Faith to join us.

We uncovered some pretty cool stuff on Day 2:  A sacrum was found by Riley and Emily, Hannah uncovered a nice scapula (which she had unknowingly been sitting on all morning!) but it had to be left in the ground for further exposure, and Mary and Jesse were hard at work for most of the day on a tibia that goes straight into the wall.  We can’t wait to see what it looks like when it comes out!

The best and most surprising find of the day came in the form of a teeny tiny prehistoric snail.  That’s right, a snail - otherwise known as a gastropod.   This little guy was smaller than a finger nail and was found by  Jackson.  The guys were excited about this find because it gives us another species at the site that we didn’t know about.

When the day was all said and done, the diggers were happy and everyone walked away having found something to talk about.  Another good day of digging, can’t wait to see what next week brings us.

Day 1 - Can You Dig It?

Day 1.  We started off with blue skies and light winds which continued throughout the day.  The temperature stayed in the 90’s (ouch) but plenty of water and digging under the tents made the day feel like a cool 89.   This year we dug at Site B and by the time we’d arrived, William and Dallas (‘The Guys’) had everything prepped and ready to go.   We even got a new location for the House of Blues (very exciting).  Each day starts with surface collecting and today’s surface finds included a dentist’s office worth of Edmontosaurus teeth thanks to Jayne, and then Caroline found a piece of an arm bone – right there on the surface!

Right away Richard and Susan found what ended being a hot bed of bones.  A partially exposed caudal vertebra turned into the uncovering of  a tibia and another bone yet to be identified.  After over 6 hours of working on exposing their bones, they were unable to excavate them completely.  Luckily, their names will be forever attached to those bones as the discoverers and we will have to rely on the next few days of diggers to complete the process.

Caroline and Catherine were also on a roll with the bones they uncovered, including part of a large rib, a spinal column and a tail bone.  Those two had a lot of success for first-time diggers!  Speaking of first time diggers, Sean joined our TCM digging crew this year and on his first day of digging he found two vertebrae and several more bones which were yet to be identified and unearthed by the end of the day.  Our Day 2 diggers will have a lot to work on when they arrive!

All in all it was a successful first day, it felt great to be back in South Dakota and to see all of our friends at the Prarie Vista Inn and the ranch.  We’re looking forward to the next couple of weeks.  We have 6 more days of digging with families and then it’s the teachers’ turn!

More tomorrow.

See you in Faith!

The count down is on and there are only 4 days left until we get down to digging.  We're super excited and have 7 days of straight family digging ahead of us, followed closely by 5 days of teachers.  That's right, teachers get to dig too and they bring their knowledge and expertise back to the classrooms. Check back with us during the digs to see what we're up to.

For those of you not familiar with the digs, here’s a little background to bring you up to speed - see you soon!

Ruth Mason ranched near Faith, SD, a prairie community 100 miles northeast of the Black Hills. At the age of seven Ruth discovered a bed of ancient bones weathering out of a bluff a few miles from her folk’s house. More than 100 years later, this quarry still contains the remains of SEVERAL THOUSAND Edmontosaurus annectens, all disarticulated. There are several theories as to why so many dinosaur remains were found in one spot. One possibility is that a river system could have transported the bones a few at a time to a sandy coast at the edge of a receding Cretaceous sea. OR a great storm could have trapped and drowned a heard on a split of land. Various Carnivorous teeth, including that of T. rex, have been found at the site, which could mean that those beasts were scavenging remains. How do you think they may have gotten there?

Every day begins at 8:00 am as families and museum staff make their way from Faith to the Ruth Mason Quarry. Everyone will have the opportunity to actively excavate real dinosaur fossils under the guidance of The Children’s Museum staff. As participants, families will help with current scientific research designed to provide valuable information about the environment in which dinosaurs lived. All of the necessary tools and information are provided and all are encouraged to bring log books and cameras to document their findings. At the site, families will experience the process of fossil discovery, excavations, mapping and jacketing in order to prepare the fossils for transportation back to the Paleo Lab at The Children’s Museum.

Final preparations have been made for families. As you can see, Dallas and William have carefully mapped the digging area using grids to ensure that records may be kept of where every piece was found at the site.

And of course, no dig site is complete without dig-quality restroom accomodations –

Welcome to the House of Blues!

As we continue to cross our fingers for blue skies and dry ground,

stay tuned as the digging days unfold…

3 spots left for 2010 Family Dinosaur Digs!

We only have 3 spots left on July 7th for the 2010 Family Dig Days!  To register, call 317.334.4000.

For more information go to The Children's Museum website.

To see what happens at the dig site visit our Digging 101 page.

Hope to see you there!

2010 Family Digs are Almost Full!


As of Friday, March 26, we only have 9 spots left on the 2010 Family Dinosaur Digs:

  • Tuesday 3/6 - 2 spots available
  • Wednesday 3/7 - 9 spots available

Click here to check out our adventures from the 2009 Digs and

click here to learn about the dig site and your fearless leaders!

If you're signed up for the 2010 Digs then look for your information packets to be sent to you soon!

Dig Orientation will be held on Saturday, May 29, from 2-4 pm at The Children's Museum of Indianapolis. Families will receive an overview of the digs, meet the paleontologists and digging staff and then head to the Paleo Prep Lab.  Families who are unable to attend will still receive all the information ahead of time in order to be ready for their dig days.

Contact dinodigs@childrensmsuem.org for any questions.

Hope to see you soon!