The Dinosaur Institute has been awarded a National Science Foundation-funded project for Enhancing Diversity in the Geosciences (OEDG). The project aims at building a network of cooperation between community colleges in the greater Los Angeles area, the Dinosaur Institute, and the University of Southern California (USC), and is using the appeal of dinosaurs to engage under-represented undergraduates in geoscience research. The new program will expose the students to some of the academic activities of professional paleontologists including, collection-based projects at the Museum, lecture series, and a variety of fieldwork. At the end of the year the students will give a talk on their experience and present their project work. The OEDG is set up to encourage students to transfer to a 4-year college and continue onto graduate studies.
The Dinosaur Institute's summer field season began in June with an expedition to the beautiful badlands of San Juan County, southeastern Utah. We took a small crew of eight people, consisting of some of our staff and volunteers, along with colleagues from Spain and Portugal. The purpose of this trip was to explore the important late Jurassic aged rocks (~150mya) in that area and examine the potential for future expeditions. The drive from Los Angeles took us through some of the most beautiful parts of the Southwest, including the Permian aged pinnacles of Monument Valley and the red Triassic rocks of the Navajo Nation. We set up camp for three weeks on Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property near the town of Blanding, UT. This was the Museum's first collecting trip in this area, therefore a lot of time was spent examining maps, driving and hiking. The badlands were mostly made up of layers of green/gray and purple sediments. Overall the mission was a success! We uncovered several sauropod specimens that we were able to bring back to the lab this year but we also discovered some exciting sites for next year! These include Stegosaurus remains, sauropod tracks and yet unknown dinosaur remains.
In late July, we set out on the 2007 Carl Holland Dinosaur Expedition, returning to Carter County in southeastern Montana. This was our 5th year working in the late Cretaceous deposits on BLM land near the small town of Ekalaka. As always our expedition started with a two and a half day drive from Los Angeles in our field vehicles and all of our gear. We set up camp in a great shaded location kindly chosen by rancher Mr. Charles Parks on his private property. Our primary mission this year was to collect a Triceratops skeleton that had been discovered in 2006. It took the best part of a month to expose, plaster jacket and transport the partial skeleton back to Los Angeles. We had a larger team for this trip consisting of some of our staff, students, and volunteers, but we were also joined by colleagues from the American Museum of Natural History (New York), the Natural History Museum in Vienna (Austria), and local enthusiasts. We also found several micro-sites close-by where we collected the remains of tiny mammals, crocodiles, and a variety of other vertebrate fauna that lived alongside Triceratops. We also discovered a new site for next year, potentially a duck-billed dinosaur skeleton! The Triceratops is planned to go on display in the museum's new dinosaur gallery.