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North Dakota fossil digs planned for summer

The paleontology department with the North Dakota Geological Survey has set dates for its fossil digs this summer.

Dr. John Hoganson is the state paleontologist for North Dakota.  He says the digs are set for the Pembina Gorge, Whiskey Creek, the Bismarck area, Marmarth and Medora on dates throughout June, July and August.  He says costs associated with the digs will depend on the level of participation involved, but that no one needs any experience to join.  He says many fossils found are new to science, and haven't been found anywhere else in the world.

"One of the most interesting fossils that we have found over the years is the remains of a giant squid that was found in our Pembina Gorge site up near Walhalla.  The remains of that squid indicates that some of these animals grew to about 35 feet.  So not only are these digs educational, but they are also scientifically important digs.  These opportunities are actual digs, not digs that are set up for tourists."

Hoganson says the digs are great educational opportunities for families, especially with kids who might want to be paleontologists.  He says it's also a good opportunity to learn something new.

"We also find that a lot of people who come here are just interested in the thrill of discovery.  You know, finding a fossil, or dinosaur tooth that's 65 million years old that no one has ever seen before is something that a lot of people really like to do - as well as I do, I still get a thrill out of it after all these years."

Hoganson says since the digs began 14 years ago, people have come from 26 states and several foreign countries to attend a dig - but he says they are fairly well attended by native North Dakotans as well.  He says more information about the digs can be found on the North Dakota Geological Survey's website.

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