406 696 5842

The Ultimate Dinosaur

Dig Experience!



Once dinosaur fossils are excavated, what happens then? Most people don’t realize this is when the hard work really begins! Finding and excavating a dinosaur represents about 20% of the total time before the animal is ready to exhibit. Preparing the fossil in a controlled environment is extremely important before the specimen is ready for research. This is where the Dino Lab comes in. It is the official repository for all specimens collected by the Judith River Dinosaur Institute (JRDI). The lab is about 7,000 square feet of space with state-of-the art preparation equipment. Many scientists and preparators wished they had a facility such as that to work in. The Dino Lab is preparing fossils recovered by JRDI teams. In addition, we are offer educational tours for the public and schools by appointment to eastern Montana and northern Wyoming. It is our mission to showcase Montana’s rich prehistoric past.

2016 Fossil Preparation Courses

In the past, JRDI participants have enjoyed “Lab Day”, a single day where they could relax and work on the fossils they helped excavate. Their feedback for more lab time inspired us to offer for the first time, a 4-day fossil preparation course in the off-season at the Dino Lab facilities here in Billings MT ! To our knowledge, we haven’t seen a program like this offered anywhere!

2016 Fossil Preparation Course Dates :

February  16th – 19th.

March  22nd – 25th.

April  12th – 15th.

Course Objective

Fossil Preparation courses are rarely a part of college curricula today yet is an essential hands-on tool for curation and display of important scientific specimens whether vertebrate or invertebrate. This course is to provide that hands-on experience to lay people or professionals alike.

Note to Parents

If you have a child who wants to attend a course, we have hosted many middle and high school kids and these programs have produced over a dozen students who are now involved in
paleontological careers. It is not necessary for a parent or guardian to attend. We’ve handled minors for years and have parent references upon request. However, minimum age for kids is 14. Sorry, we cannot make an exception no matter how mature the child due to insurance liability requirements.

  • Jacket removal
  • Purpose and use of consolidants and adhesives.
  • Use of hand tools in preparation techniques.
  • Mechanical matrix removal with rotaries and pneumatics.
  • Microblasting and media use.
  • Reconstruction techniques.
  • Finishing for long term curation.
  • Introduction to curation science

Course Length

32 hours (4 days from Tuesday to Friday)


Dino Laboratories in Billings, Montana (students are responsible for travel to and from and lodging)

Course Fee

$895.00. Includes instruction and supplies. Students will prepare vertebrate/invertebrate fossils specimens.  Students may bring their own fossils to prepare as well.

Travel Details

Destination: Billings, Montana. Participants fly into Logan International Airport (served by Delta, United, and Northwest Airlines) on the Monday before. Airfare, lodging and all travel expenses to and from Billings are the participant’s responsibility. Our group meets at the Bighorn Resort (1-406-839-9300) at 9:00 am on Tuesday.

For More Information on space availability and registration: please call 406-696-5842 or email us.



What’s happening in the Dino Lab 

September 2015

The following is a Vertebra that we just pulled out of the field this year.   It is a vertebra of one of the largest sauropods ever to walk North America.  It is 3 ft long, and yet not even one of the largest on the animal!     We are still prepping it, but appears to be most closely related to Haplocanthosaurus – Although it would be half again as large as Haplocanthosaurus was thought to be!   

The closest contenders for our new beast’s species are Amphocoelas altas and Haplocanthosaurus priscus – shown below.