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Fossil dig season ends


The Department of Mineral Resources and Friends of NDGS Paleo wrapped up their public fossil dig season in Pembina, Medora, and Bismarck. Clint Boyd is the senior paleontologist with the North Dakota Geological survey. He says the digs were a great success, with 540 people joining the paleontologists to dig at Medora where they found parts of a skeleton from a crocodile-like animal called a Champsosaurus and at Pembina gorge where they continue to work on excavating two large fish measuring five and eight feet long.

"At the Bismarck dig, which was our second dig, we're working on the creek formation, so right at the end of the age of dinosaurs, so animals like T-Rex and triceratops. On the last day, we found a really nice T-Rex tooth about four inches long, a really beautiful tooth, but as we were cleaning around that, we found a tooth from one of the marine reptiles, the mosasaurs, which was interesting because mosasaurs live in the open ocean and of course T-Rex live on land. We have never had that association before where those are found together. It raises a question of why are teeth from these two animals showing up in the same location? Did a mosasaur swim up the river temporarily and get into the same environment as the T-Rex or what happened there? We're not quite sure yet, but that was a really exciting find."

Boyd says the digs to unearth these fossils will continue next year.

"Every fossil that gets collected on the public fossil digs comes back to the North Dakota State fossil collection which is housed in the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum here in Bismarck"

Boyd says to watch out for some exciting new exhibits at the heritage center coming out later in the year.