Where do we meet?

We will meet in the east parking lot of the Heritage Center in Bismarck, ND. Exact time will be announced.

Can I take pictures?

Yes and No. This dig is on private land, and to respect the landowner’s wishes, make sure there is no photography showing the surrounding landscape, or any buttes. Closeups of you or fossils are ok. We make sure to take photos throughout the dig, and can e-mail you extras.

How strenuous is this dig?

Most of this dig entails quarry work (sitting and digging). There is a short walk from where we park vehicles, to the dig site.

If I get too hot, is there any shade?

We have a shade tent and chairs just off site, near the vehicles.

What should I bring?

Please bring more water than you think you will need – it tends to get hot, and we don’t want people becoming dehydrated. Pack any lunches or snacks you may want. Be prepared to hike with whatever you bring, so pack accordingly (no big coolers!). NDGS will provide any tools you might need for the day. We pack out what we pack in, so please take all garbage back with you. No littering!

What types of fossils are we finding?

We will be working in the Hell Creek Formation, 65 million years in age. The quarry we are working in has produced numerous bones from Edmontosaurus, Triceratops, shed teeth from Tyrannosaurus. We may also find bones from crocodiles, turtles, gar-pike, bowfin, champsosaurs, birds, salamanders, mammals, and plants.

Wow! We can find a whole dinosaur?!

While it’s possible to find a whole animal, most of what we are finding are parts and pieces. A crocodile tooth here. A gar-pike jaw there. A rib from a turtle. Finding a whole dinosaur would be a very rare, and time consuming project. A single leg bone could take you days to uncover, and an entire skeleton weeks.

Can we keep the fossils we find?

No – all fossils we find will return to the State Fossil Collection in Bismarck, ND.

Is there a restroom?

Yes, we have a port-a-potty next to the shade tent.

Will my cell phone work?

Maybe? We generally get very poor signal out where we are prospecting. Even if you do manage to connect, we ask that you head back to the vehicles if you want to chat, as courtesy to the other diggers.

Can I smoke?

Yes, but just like the cell phone use, as courtesy to the other diggers, we ask that you smoke back where we park the vehicles, or far from other people. Please take your cigarette butts with you as well – we want to make sure we keep the area clean.

What COVID-19 precautions are you taking?

The North Dakota Geological Survey Paleontology staff are doing all we can to make the summer digs as safe as possible.  To do that, we need your help.

Vans:  while in the vans, masks will be mandatory.  We will have disposable masks available for those that do not have their own.  Use proper mask-wearing procedures – your mask should come above your nose, and extend past your chin.  You will be assigned a van to ride in - make sure you return in the same van at the end of your session as well.

If you feel sick (cough, shortness of breath, fever, or sore throat), do not attend the dig.  Temperature checks will occur at the start of every day, for all staff and participants.  Anyone that appears sick will not be allowed to attend. We reserve the right to refuse participation, and your ticket will be refunded. 

After your dig is done, if you test positive for COVID-19 – let us know IMMEDIATELY.  If our staff has been exposed to COVID-19, we need to enter quarantine and inform other diggers.  If our staff enters quarantine, the digs will be cancelled (and refunded) for at least two weeks following notification. 

We will do our best to keep things as sanitary and safe as possible, but we need your help to do that.  Masks on site are not practical, as we need you to stay hydrated – touching masks repeatedly in order to take a drink negates the cleanliness of the mask.  Please maintain social distancing as much as possible with those outside of your group.  If a fossil is discovered that people wish to see – DO NOT crowd around the digger or fossil.  Wait for them to move, then inspect the find.  We will make sure that diggers have a chance to see important discoveries.
In years past we allowed diggers to move about the site or change dig spots.  This will not be allowed this year.  If you wish to move to another location, it must be approved by the paleontology staff.  The staff will be around a lot of people this summer and will be practicing social distancing with the diggers as much as possible.  We understand this will make examining finds more difficult, but please work with us.  If you find something, need to cut roots, or need help with something, you will need to move away from the find for us to examine more closely. 
Plastering in past years was a group effort, with the staff inviting the public to participate.  To accommodate social distancing, group plastering will not be held this year.  Plastering will only be done by the staff.