July 26, 2010
Over the past few years, most of what I have learned about dinosaurs has come from books and papers. I am constantly trying to keep up with the literature—both from my own edification and to bring you news of the coolest new discoveries—but there is only so much libraries can do for you. Sooner or later, you just have to get out into the field, and that’s what I am doing this week.
As you read this I am out in Montana with the New Jersey State Museum field crew to search for dinosaurs near Billings, Montana. I don’t know what we will find. Searching for fossils is a difficult process that requires a keen eye and a lot of patience, and, even when a fossil hunt is not fruitful, you can still learn a lot by reading the landscape for clues. Given that I have not had the chance to go fossil hunting very often, I don’t expect to find very much, but through my efforts I hope to learn a lot.
If you have been fossil hunting and have a cool story from the field, please share it in the comments.
(We’ll be updating the blog all week and Brian will report back from the field soon—Ed.)
October 27, 2009
Documentaries often show scientists digging for dinosaurs in places like the Badlands of the American West or the hot sands of the Gobi Desert, but people in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area are a lot closer to a dinosaur bone-bed than they may know.
This week the state of Maryland is establishing a new park to preserve Cretaceous-age fossil deposits in Prince George’s County. Dinosaur fossils have been coming out of the site for over a century and a half, but it is only now that the site is going to be formally protected. According to the Baltimore Sun, amateur and professional paleontologists will still be allowed to work the site, but whatever is removed will be carefully documented and offered to the Smithsonian Institution for study and storage.
While most visitors will not be allowed to take any dinosaurs home with them, organizers behind the park plan to launch public programs about the fossils in the park. These plans are still in development, however, as protecting this unique fossil site was the major goal of the project.