Dino Dig 2022!

Dino Dig 2022!

Michelle Bergmann

Imagine the excitement and the reward of discovering a relic in the field of paleontology! A mixed group of more than 100 research scientists, students, international participants from South America, and amateur diggers from around the country did just that during this year’s Dino Dig sponsored by Southwestern Adventist University’s Department of Biological Sciences. They worked from June 3-29, 2022, at the Lance Formation in eastern Wyoming, on the Hanson Ranch located 45 minutes south of Newcastle. They uncovered approximately 2,000 fossils, representing nearly 30 types of dinosaurs and non-dinosaur vertebrates. “Most of what we find are duck-billed dinosaur fossils,” says Dr. Jared Wood, associate professor in Southwestern Adventist University’s Department of Biological Services. “This year we also found our sixth Triceratops and some raptor and Tyrannosaurid material.” How exciting!

Wonder what it is like to be part of a Dino Dig? As far as knowledge goes, “Students on site are actively excavating and identifying dinosaur bones almost daily. By the end of the month, they are quite proficient at handling and identifying a variety of vertebrate fossils,” Dr. Wood explains.

While hands-on work in the quarries is the focus of the experience, the group participates in daily worship before going to the quarries, vesper services, and church services each Saturday. The professors also have a chance to share their faith during their lectures covering topics of origin and faith. And, in an effort to share their experience, knowledge, and faith, the professors held an open house on Father’s Day. “Locals got a chance to visit the main quarries and visit with participants,” says Dr. Wood. “We usually receive about 200 visitors each year for the open house event.”

Alessandro Franchini, a junior double majoring in creative writing and integrated biology, describes his most memorable moments as, “Surprising to both myself and my quarry leaders when I was able to find a T-rex tooth and a Pectinodon tooth about 2 millimeters [about 0.08 inches] long!”

Why should other students go? “I think students should go for the experience of spending time digging up fossils, to learn about the creatures and what their environment was like, and to learn what destroyed it and them,” Alessandro shares. “The entire trip was very enlightening and helps one gain a bit of new perspective.”

If you’re ready to change your perspective about origin, faith, and dinosaurs, dig in the dirt, and make amazing discoveries, you can! Join next year’s 2023 Dino Dig from June 2-28, and get more details at https://dinosaur.swau.edu.

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