Little Snowy Mountains Dinosaur Project 2014

2015 Dig Program Dates.

$1,695.00 per week. (see sign up page for details) 

Week 1 July 5th to July 10th, 2015 - 40% full.

Week 2 July 19th to July 24th, 2015 - 40% full.

Week 3 August 2nd to August 7th, 2015 - 25% full.

Call for registration details @ 406-696-5842

Email or call for dig space availability at or

Since 1993, JRDI has been dedicated to the preservation and education of Montana's rich dinosaur history through our field programs.  Our six-day long dig programs are tailored with this mission in mind.   If you are serious about any aspect of natural history and love the outdoors, you'll find this a rich learning experience.  Our programs appeal to a wide audience: students, professionals and people from all walks of life from around the globe.

Each specimen we excavate has scientific value, so our digs are not for the casual vacationer.  Even if you've  never had any class room or field experience, you can still participate.  We just ask you come willing to learn and receive instruction. Everyone helps both in the quarry and in the camp! 

Sometimes our work is hot, dry and dusty, but it's always rewarding.  Perhaps that's why so many volunteers return.  We hope you'll join us in 2014.  We look forward to seeing our old friends and making new ones.  Please note:  the minimum age of participants is 12 (sorry, no exceptions).

Youth Mentoring

We receive annual inquiries from parents looking for a dig program offering their son or daughter a real field experience beyond the tourist day trip. Our liability insurance mandates the minimum age as 12. Unfortunately there are no exceptions no matter how mature the child.

If your son/daughter meets the age requirement and has always expressed an interest in pursuing a career in paleontology (or earth science), then our week long field programs are a great starting point for many an aspiring scientist. JRDI has hosted programs for the last 20 years with a real life experience that will teach them the sequence of steps in field paleontology from discovery to excavation, but also the responsibilities of being a field scientist. We teach what is not taught through media or in a classroom.

We've had many students attend our programs over the past 20 years. Many have continued their goal of making paleontology their field of study and some have headed in another scientific direction. Either way, we help mentor because no matter what field of science, it is a methodology involving observation, asking questions, deductive thinking, experimenting, and drawing possible scientific conclusions. Our goal of education is to shape that type of critical thinking and not necessarily what the media's perception of what a paleontologist does.

Many of our students who we mentor through high school years enter college with a great advantage. Most of them have returned to our field programs as summer interns and research associates.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to call 1-406-696-5842.

2013 Field Report 10/22/13

This quarry has come a long way since we opened it in 2006 and has become the largest stegosaur bonebed in the world. Due to JRDI’s student intern’s research program we are learning so much about these fascinating creatures. For the first time we’ve been able to identify two different stegosaurs but of the same species and the only visible difference between them is the shape of their plates. One type has tall triangular plates and the other oval plates. What conclusion can we possibly draw from this? Could this represent male and female stegosaurs? The research is still ongoing and intriguing.

Another dinosaurian player entered the quarry in 2010 while removing overburden. A medium sized sauropod named Ava. Ava died shortly after our group of stegosaurs did. She is stratigraphically just above our stegosaur bone layer so she is spread out over some of the stegosaurs. The skeleton is associated with some of the bones articulated. This sauropod is actually lying on its left side with its limbs sprawled to the sides. The complete dorsal and cervical series articulated with the ribs lying across. The neck of the sauropod is nicely articulated and heading into the hillside so we hope the skull is at the end? We will find out in the 2014 season! This dinosaur, I believe, is the same as the Ralph specimen we collected in 2005-2006 not even 200 yards away from our current excavation. The animal is a camarasaurid of some kind but many of the features on the vertebrae and ribs prove it not to be Camarasaurus lentus and likely something new. These sauropods should have 22-24 ribs and some are approaching 6 feet in length. We have uncovered 14 to date!
The sauropod pelvis looks complete with the left femur associated with the pelvis. This femur’s overall length is 4.5 feet. The team also uncovered 11 caudal (tail) vertebrae with seven chevrons. Looking at the overall material uncovered this summer, I believe the animal is relatively complete. Each time we began to pedestal a bone, something new is uncovered so there will be plenty to excavate in 2014. This is one massive animal that likely will be about 50-60 feet long!

This was the most fun we’ve had excavating a dinosaur in years. To see the absolute size and the relationship of the bones to one another, it’s truly a sight to see! I want to thank the 2013 team for their eagerness and full cooperation. Special thanks to Dave and Rosalie and family for allowing us on their land the past 10 seasons and their continued friendship and support. I want to thank staff (Evan, Wray and all the JRDI alum) for running camp so efficiently. To my interns, Evan and Wray, great job! Also, thank you Dean and Amber for the strat work and assessing the big picture of the northern Morrison formation. Even though Matt wasn’t able to join us onsite this summer he was missed. Thanks again one and all!

Upcoming 2014 Excavation.....
Here is what we have to look forward to in 2014. In the spring we’ve arranged to bring in a large excavator to pull the hillside back and double the footprint of the quarry and a service ramp for removing large jackets. After that there will be A LOT OF BONES to excavate. We still have some limb bones to find, work more on the torso, and follow the neck If the paleo gods are smiling on us—another skull! Remember everyone; we only have two weeks next season, so please don’t put it off if you plan to attend. Hope you can join us in July of 2014!

All the best.
Nate Murphy
Judith River Dinosaur Institute





Rolling a jacket

Put your back into it!






2013 Dig Photo Gallery


2012 Dig Photo Gallery



2011 Dig Photo Gallery