Digging for Dinosaurs in Wyoming

This summer, the VMNH paired up with Lynchburg College and headed to northern Wyoming to help excavate out Jurassic dinosaur bones from a 140 million year old site.


Dr. Brooke Haiar of Lynchburg College (right) directing the field crew at the dinosaur site in Wyoming.

The bones belong to a sauropod (long-necked dinosaur), including key parts of the hip and ankle that tell researchers a lot about how these animals moved.  The site has been worked on previously, and from bones extracted in 2014, tail vertebrae of the animal seem most similar to Apatosaurus, an especially large sauropod known for more than 100 years in the western United States.  The bones look to be from an adult though, despite being quite a bit smaller than normal adult Apatosaurus.  The dinosaur may actually be a new species, but the team will have a lot of work to do in the lab before they know for sure.


3 plaster jackets to the right containing sauropod foot bones. In the middle are the tibia and fibula from the lower leg.

When excavating dinosaurs, paleontologists will often dig around the bone, leaving a pedastal, which they then jacket in plaster so that they can safely carry it back to the lab.  In all, the crew took 17 jackets of dinosaur bone as well as many other wrapped pieces back to Virginia.  Each one of these can take a month or more to prepare, so it will be a long process, but well worth the effort when it is finished.


Plaster jackets filled with dinosaur bone and some of the other material collected getting loaded for the trip back to Virginia. Everything made it back safe!

The team was working on federal land, under a permit from the Bureau of Land Management. Special thanks to the VMNH, Lynchburg College, Memorial Hospital of Martinsville & Henry County and Bassett Furniture for funding to make the dig possible!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guest Blog: Liz’s Summer Internship


My name is Elizabeth Mizikar, and I am a rising senior at Pennsylvania State University. I am majoring in Geobiology and plan on pursuing graduate school in the future. Recently, I began a five week internship at the Virginia Museum of Natural History in the Paleontology Department. Over the last two weeks, I have gained a lot of experience working in the Prep Lab.

On the first day of my internship, I joined the museum on a field site excavation. Throughout Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Solite Excavation Day 30

The crew 2016-06-11.jpg

Saturday presented us with sunshine and a good crew for our excavation at Solite Quarry. This site rarely disappoints and Saturday did not disappoint. Some fragmentary material was collected but we also found the two specimens below: the posterior half of a Tanytrachelos and what I can guess might be a fish.  Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Guest Blog: Courtland’s Summer Internship

Courtland 1

Prepping a shark tooth via pin vice

My name is Courtland Lyle, and I am a rising senior at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I am pursuing a double major in both geology and biology and wish to study paleontology on a graduate level in the near future. I have always loved prehistoric life. I would describe myself as the kind of person who was a dino-nut as a child and never grew out of that interest – if anything, that passion has grown. Now I know that there is so much more to paleontology than just dinosaurs. In fact, my love of Cenozoic mammals has surpassed my love of dinosaurs.


Continue reading

Posted in Carmel Church Chondrichthyans, Carmel Church mysticetes, Carmel Church Quarry, Vertebrate Paleontology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Guest Blog: Paige’s Summer Internship

Blog by VMNH Paleontology Intern, Paige Dzindolet

Work 2.jpg

 I am a rising senior attending Roanoke College and am working towards a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a minor in Biology. I recently began a summer internship at the Virginia Museum of Natural History, which counts as a class credit towards said Biology minor. I chose this internship partly because I have always loved Continue reading

Posted in Invertebrate Paleontology, Newark Supergroup, Science, education, and philosophy, Solite Quarry, Vertebrate Paleontology | 1 Comment

Solite Excavation Day 29

The crew 5-14-16.jpg

We made it back to Solite Saturday with a good sized crew of volunteers!  Upon arriving at the quarry, the pit appeared to have not been disturbed. Last year, we decided to go on hiatus to give the rock time to weather during the winter. Weathering is exactly what we needed! The insect bed was significantly easier to separate from the underlying dolostone and the slabs of previously removed overburden (fish/plant/Tany layers) split like a dream.

Continue reading

Posted in Invertebrate Paleontology, Newark Supergroup, Solite Quarry, Vertebrate Paleontology | 2 Comments

SeAVP 2016

SEAVP flyer 5x7


  • Abstract submission begins: March 8, 2016
  • Abstract submission closes: April 8, 2016
  • Submission format should follow the 2011 SEAVP Abstract book.
  • Word limit: 300
  • Lead author should specify if they wish an oral or poster presentation.
  • Oral presentations will be limited to 15 minutes each.

Submissions should be emailed electronically to Dr. Alex Hastings.


  • Early Registration: April 11 – May 2
  • Regular Registration: May 2 – May 14

More details to come regarding registration prices.

See vmnh.net/seavp for more information.

Posted in Conferences, Vertebrate Paleontology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment