Where do we meet?

For Full Days or Half-Day Mornings, we will be meeting in the Life Skills Center at 7:45am. For Half-Day Afternoons, we will meet outside the Life Skills Center at 12:45pm.  You are welcome to eat breakfast or lunch at the buffet, or before you come. 

Can I take pictures?

Please do! We would love if you would be willing to share them with us as well. We enjoy social media posts, and can be tagged @NDGSpaleo (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram).

How strenuous is this dig?

We lovingly call Medora our frou-frou dig. We drive nearly up to the site, with very little hiking. This is a quarry site, meaning we return year after year to the same location to sit and dig. No prospecting (wandering the hillsides) needed. You may be asked to do a little shovel or pickaxe work, but not a lot.

If I get too hot, is there any shade?

We do indeed have a shade tent, and chairs. There is not shade on site for multiple reasons: as the sun shifts, we would need to shift the shade; in order to anchor the shade, we would risk damaging fossils still under ground.

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. You will also need to pack your own lunch. We ask that you not bring a giant cooler along, since there will not be a lot of extra room in the passenger van.  Hat, sunglasses, and of course a camera. We will provide all the tools you will be using throughout the day. We pack out what we pack in, so please take all garbage back with you. No littering!

Are meals provided?

No - you will need to eat breakfast / lunch before you come, or pack a lunch.  We do this to help keep the costs low.  As everyone will be bringing food, please do not pack a large cooler.

What types of fossils are we finding?

Medora was a very swamp-like environment 55 million years ago. We find anything from crocodile bones, fish, salamanders, turtles, champsosaurs, bald cypress branches and cones, snails, clams, mammals, and birds.

Wow! We can find a whole crocodile?!

While it’s possible to find a whole animal, most of what we are finding are parts and pieces. Imagine creatures dying in a swamp, sinking down, being eaten, walked by, disturbed - we find lots of single elements. A crocodile tooth here. A gar-pike jaw there. A rib from a turtle.

Can we keep the fossils we find?

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

Most of the land we search on is State, Federal, or Foundation land (US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, Teddy Roosevelt Medora Foundation, etc.), and the NDGS curates whatever is found. Feel free to take photos of whatever you find however!

Is there a restroom?

Yes! Our Medora site has a port-a-potty.

Will my cell phone work?

Yes, there is good signal in the area, but we ask that as courtesy to the other diggers, if you are going to use your phone to chat, please head back to where we park the vehicles. It tends to get very distracting.

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. Please take your cigarette butts with you as well – we want to make sure we keep the area clean.

I’m from out of town – where’s a good place to stay?

There are numerous places in Medora. Some of them include:

  • Campground
  • Roughrider Hotel
  • Red Trail RV campground
  • AmericInn
  • Bunkhouse
Where can I find some grub around here?

There are numerous places in Medora to eat. Some of them include:

  • Boots Bar & Grill
  • Elkhorn Café
  • Cowboy Café
  • Roughrider
  • Missouri River Saloon & Dining Room
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.