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Museum hosting tour of active dinosaur dig

Participants get their chance Oct. 1 to see fossil bones in situ

Published: Monday, Sept. 12 2005 12:00 a.m. MDT

Utahns will have a chance to visit an active dinosaur dig on Oct. 1, watching paleontologists work at a site where ancient behemoths are being uncovered.

The hadrosaur (duck-billed dinosaur) site is in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern Utah, about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City. The tour is sponsored by the Utah Museum of Natural History, based at the University of Utah.

According to the museum, dinosaur bones will be visible, and participants will learn about the history of the area. They will find out about techniques of paleontology field work, "such as finding and marking fossil locations and excavating fossils," a press release states.

Visitors will have the option of viewing the dig for either the day, or, for an additional $20 per night, camp overnight at the site, museum spokesman Darrell Kirby told the Deseret Morning News. Basic one-day cost is $40 per person for museum members and $50 for nonmembers.

The optional camp-out will be near the site, and can be the night before the visit, the night of Oct. 1 or both nights.

"Participants must be at least 12 years old because of the ruggedness of the terrain," Kirby said. They also must be in good shape since they'll hike two miles in and two miles back to vehicles.

The fossils are about 75 million years old, dating to the late Cretaceous era. The ancient animals discovered at the site are varied. "Some actually have crests on their heads and some don't," he said.

Excavations are being carried out by the U. and the College of Eastern Utah in Price.

Showing the visitors around will be Mike Getty, collections manager for paleontology at the museum. In 2000, he and the U.'s Mark Loewen showed the News a site in Emery County where they were uncovering either a Tyrannosaurus rex or a new species of large predatory dinosaur.

The latest excavation has been going on for a few years, Kirby said.

Visitors will gather at 9 a.m. at a yet-to-be-determined site. From there, transportation will be provided to the dig, and back to the parking area. They should leave for home about 5 p.m.

Those who will be there only for Oct. 1 should take their own provisions while the campers will get additional food and beverages.

To join the tour, register by calling the museum at 801-581-5567.


E-mail: bau@desnews.com

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