2021 A Season of New Discoveries!

2021 Field Report – August 1, 2021

The 2021 season was really good! Old friends returning and new friends made.  Teams focused their efforts on exploration of new sites and did it ever pay off! We found 3 new quarries! One of the new sites produced stegosaur material, and another a large sauropod and the third the remains of Camptosaurus. This season was very unusual weather wise. Montana has experienced one of the hottest and driest summers on record. We were all smart and took advantage of the cool temps during the morning and evenings to work in the new sites. Now that these new quarries are established, I can’t wait to see what the winters snow and the spring erosion will show us. Yes, it was indeed hard work – something you will never see on a TV documentary. With that kind of effort…comes great rewards!  Kudos everyone!

After doing these dig programs for 26 years one cannot help but think about the people you keep meeting and the many friends you make.  The 2021 field season was made wonderfully possible by many of those people.  To my dear friends and hosts for 18 summers Dave and Rosalie, thank you for sharing such a wonderous place.  My friends in many geologic adventures Mark, Debbie and my dear Janet, thanks to you all for being there for me. You guys keep our prehistoric adventure all going.

Finally, I want to thank all of the 2021 team members that traveled from all points to have a chance at discovery with us.  I hope that you went away a little more knowledgeable and having even more questions.  Hope to see you again.

What’s Up for the Summer of 2022?

Bones!!! We’ll continue excavation of the 3 new quarries 4, 5 and 6 in 2021 to see what they will give up. The bones showing in quarry 5 look to be a large sauropod. We’ve jacketed and removed the skull and neck of a Camptosaurus in quarry 4, a trophy discovery due to its rarity. We will continue more excavation there and hopefully discover more of its body.

 

“Fossil hunting is by far the most fascinating of all sports, the hunter will never knows what his bag will be, perhaps nothing, perhaps a creature never before seen by human eyes!  The fossil hunter does not kill, he resurrects.  And the result of his sport is to add to the sum of human pleasure and the treasures of human knowledge”.

George Gaylord Simpson – paleontologist  circa 1934. 

Want to Join a Dinosaur Dig?

Come Dig with Us in 2022!

2022 Dig Program Dates –

Little Snowy Mountains Dinosaur Project  2022

Jurassic Dinosaurs – Camp out Exploration & Dig.

Week 1 – July 3rd to July 8th. 35% full.

Week 2 – July 17th to July 22nd. 60% full.

Week 3 – July 31st to August 5th. 40% full.

Cost: $1,895.00 per week.

Call for space availability & registration details 406-696-5842

Palenotological experiences
Nate Murphy, Judith River Dinosaur Institute

Judith River Dinosaur Institute’s Dig Programs.

Required Reading for Minors attending a dig!

For more than 25 years the Judith River Dinosaur Institute (JRDI) has provided the very best in educational paleontological field programs available to the general public.  The programs were originally designed with educators in mind and remain more suited for adults.  They are by no means a “Summer Dino Camp” for kids.  However, it can make all the difference in the life of a young adult who believes that he or she wants to pursue a career in earth sciences.  In that way we encourage mature, serious-minded young adult students (ages 13 to 17) to join us with their parent or a legal guardian. Older young adults (ages 18 and up) may come on their own. Please read the details on the dig applications regarding medical conditions.

Our dig programs are six-day camp-out field expeditions.  The base camp has full field amenities such as hot showers and port-a-potties, but camping experience is needed.  We provide transportation to and from Billings to base camp. If participants chose to drive their own vehicles with the group, they may.  We also provide three square meals a day plus beverages.  No alcoholic beverages are allowed on our digs.  Participants only need bring a tent, sleeping bag, clothing, and personal effects.

All the specimens we excavate have scientific value and are destined for a museum.  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.  Our goal has always been that everyone has a wonderful educational experience.   We hope you’ll join us in 2022. We look forward to seeing our old friends and making new ones.    

Please note: all minors ages 13 to 17 must attend with a parent or legal guardian (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 minimum age is 13, and all children ages 13-17 must be accompanied by an adult during the entire time of the dig. 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 over 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 paleontologist. 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 a 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.

College Internships

Call (406) 696-5842 or email nate@jrdi.net for details.

 Quarry 4 – Camptosaurus

camptosaurus fossil dig
Camptosaurus skeletal reconstruction
montana fossil removal
Team members carefully begin to uncover the skull and neck.
fossil jacket
Rolling the jacket for removal. Put your back in to it guys!
Camptosaur’s skull eroding out of the hill.
Discovery! This is the Camptosaur’s skull eroding out of the hill.
plastering dinosaur skull and neck
Team members begin plaster jacketing the skull and neck.

 Quarry 5 – Camarasaurus

camarasaurus-quarry
The team starts the initial work uncovering the bones of a large sauropod.
Camarasaurus Illustration
Camarasaurus Illustration courtesy of Scott Hartman
sauropod dig site
Another view of the new sauropod site.

Quarry 3 just a few hundred yards from Quarry 5 looked the same when we started excavation.

 Quarry 6 – New Discovery of Stegosaurus

stegosaurus dig site
Team members flagging the hillside where exposed stegosaur bone fragments lie.
stegosaurus dig site
Stegosaurus Courtesy Ken Carpenter.
Team members uncovering stegosaur bones
Team members uncovering stegosaur bones!
dinosaur excavation camp
Crew prepares to start excavation of quarry 6 just 200 yards from quarry 2 where we excavated remains of 5 stegosaurs.
montana dinosaur dig

Camp Life, like the daily digs, is a team effort. That means everyone helps the camp function. Establish in 2004, the camp has large shaded areas where everyone can enjoy the end of the day’s work and relax.  Hot and cold showers for all to knock the dust off and refresh yourself daily as well as a full supply building with an attached kitchen area for putting out great meals. We also have trailer mounted porta potties. Our camp and camp areas are all mowed mountain meadows with the Montana Big Sky for a ceiling!

Evenings at camp after dinner offer activities such as horseshoes, cornhole, or giant Jenga.   Around the campfire you can sit in on a scientific discussion with fellow team members or an educational paleo talk by a staff member.  Thursday evening we enjoy live music around the campfire.  Our camp is about fun, relaxation, refreshment and good conversation.

Palenotological experiences
montana dinosaur dig camp
Base camp after a thunder shower.
montana dinosaur dig
Singing around the campfire.

Itinerary 2022

Saturday:
Fly/drive into Billings. Check in at rendezvous point, Boothill Inn. Note: Boothill Inn offers free transportation to and from Billings Logan Airport.
Sunday:
12:00pm – JRDI staff meets team members in the lobby of the Boothill Inn. We load gear and assign vehicle transportation to the dig.
12:30pm – we depart from the Boothill Inn and make a 45 minute shopping stop at Walmart.
2:00 to 4:00pm – the team caravans to base camp in the Little Snowy Mts.
4:00 – 6:00pm – upon arrival team sets up camp.
6:00 – 8:00pm – dinner, meet and greet, orientation.
Monday – Thursday:
7:00 – 8:00am – breakfast.
8:00am – 12:00pm – field work.
12:00 – 1:00pm – lunch.
1:00 – 4:00pm – field work.
4:00pm – clean up and showers.
6:00 – 8:00pm – Dinner and clean up.
8:00pm – Paleontology/geology presentations, campfire discussions, movies and cheap live music upon request.
Friday:
7:00 – 8:00am – Breakfast.
8:00 – 9:00am – break camp.
9:00 – 11:30am – fieldwork/close quarries.
11:30 – 1:00pm – Lunch, load and depart to Billings.
1:00 – 3:00pm – caravan back to Billings.
3:00 -3:30pm – arrive at the Boothill Inn, off load gear and check in.
6:30 – 6:45pm – meet at Boothill Inn lobby and go out for dinner together in Billings for a fun evening and a great way to end the week!
Note: Schedule may vary due to work load and weather.

Dig Photo Galleries