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Dinosaur Project

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Hanson Research Station, Lance Formation of eastern Wyoming. Jun, 3 2006

The Dinosaur Project is a long-term dinosaur excavation and taphonomic research project conducted by the Southwestern Adventist University in collaboration with Earth History Research Center and the Hanson Research Station. The project generally involves the location, identification, and removal of fossilized dinosaur bones, primarily Edmontosaurus, Triceratops, Tyrannosaurus, and Pachycephalosaurus. The quarry is located in an extensive and rich bone bed containing disarticulated remains in several upper Cretaceous strata.[1]

Excavation, recovery, and preservation of fossils is a year-around endeavour. However, the main thrust of the project involves an intensive, month-long dig conducted on a private cattle ranch in the Lance Formation of eastern Wyoming. The project and field trips are directed by several university professors including, Art Chadwick and Larry Turner from SWAU and Lee Spencer from SAU. The excavations and taphonomy are carried out by participating students, researchers, and educators.[2]. Southwestern Adventist University optionally offers college credit hours or continuing education units to students and teachers. College and high school students may earn four semester hours of college credit by registering for the corresponding class. Teachers may earn four units of CEU's.[3] Applications are currently being accepted to attend the dig next summer.[4]

Art Chadwick investigates formation.

The primary goal is to locate and carefully record the exact location of each bone that is found, then to excavate and stabilize each for transport to the lab for additional preservation. A number of exciting techniques that have not been utilized before or in combination make this project a state-of-the-art research effort, including:

  • The use of high-precision GPS (Global Positioning System) based surveying equipment to measure the locations of every fossil remain
  • In-field digital photographs of every labeled and recovered bone, tooth, etc.
  • Complete digital data measurement with subsequent transfer to a computer data base
  • Internet access from the field with data transfer, news, photos, and web camera shots of the work
  • The use of a GIS (Geographical Information System) to reconstruct the quarry in 3-dimensions
  • A web-based catalog of all recovered remains.