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Drawer with fossils, hands holding one specimen
Fossils tell the story of ancient animals and ecosystems. A drawer in the NHMLAC Dinosaur Institute collections.  

The DIG - December 2020

Welcome to the Dinosaur Institute Gazette!

Every quarter, our team will be putting together this update to provide you with recent news of the exciting work taking place in the DI. Each issue will include a focused, main story, a featured fossil, and a blast from the past. Plus, we will be offering some unique virtual events, where you can learn more about our activities and connect with our team. In this issue, I want to introduce you to our graduate students. As we are all looking at the future, after a year of great uncertainty, Nate and I continue to mentor our graduate students, training them for their future professional lives. We wish you safe and happy holidays and a brighter 2021!

Watch Dr. Luis Chiappe introduce the first edition of the DIG!

Meet Our Graduate Students

One of our goals in the Dinosaur Institute is to train the next generation of scientists and natural historians, and mentoring graduate students is an important way we build this pipeline and expand our program’s reach. Currently, Dr. Luis Chiappe and Dr. Nate Smith  are advising five Ph.D. students pursuing their degrees at USC. These students work very closely with Luis and Nate, having desks at NHMLAC, using our collections, and regularly joining our field teams. . The funding that we raise from research grants and donations supports these students’ graduate stipends as well as their research and work in our collections.

 

See photos from the excavation site at Ghost Ranch

Ghost Ranch

The 2017 Ghost Ranch expedition crew poses in front of the Late Triassic Hayden Quarry. Each summer this dig hosts a diverse group of researchers, students, volunteers, and visitors.

Ghost Ranch

An overview shot of the three main excavations at the Late Triassic Hayden Quarry site in Ghost Ranch, NM. The Cerro Pedernal, a source of inspiration for many of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings, can be seen in the background.

Ghost Ranch 4

Emily Lessner and Sheila Brennan haul back a fossil jacket full of numerous large phytosaur teeth. The semi-aquatic, long-snouted phytosaurs were apex predators during the Late Triassic.

GHost Ranch 5

Field crew work on plastering a large fossil jacket at the Hayden Quarry in Ghost Ranch. Orphan Mesa can be seen in the background.

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The 2017 Ghost Ranch expedition crew poses in front of the Late Triassic Hayden Quarry. Each summer this dig hosts a diverse group of researchers, students, volunteers, and visitors.

An overview shot of the three main excavations at the Late Triassic Hayden Quarry site in Ghost Ranch, NM. The Cerro Pedernal, a source of inspiration for many of Georgia O'Keefe's paintings, can be seen in the background.

Emily Lessner and Sheila Brennan haul back a fossil jacket full of numerous large phytosaur teeth. The semi-aquatic, long-snouted phytosaurs were apex predators during the Late Triassic.

Field crew work on plastering a large fossil jacket at the Hayden Quarry in Ghost Ranch. Orphan Mesa can be seen in the background.

Featured Fossil

Triceratops Skull in Lab
Triceratops Skull being Prepared in the Dinosaur Lab

This block was about 4000 pounds out of the field and it was reduced to about 1000 pounds, the actual weight of the skull mounted in the Jane G. Pisano Dinosaur Hall. 

The Dinosaur Institute is home to thousands of specimens from throughout the world and spanning hundreds of millions of years of dinosaur evolution! Here, you can take a behind-the-scenes peek into our collections to learn more about a unique specimen.

Blast From the Past

Craig Cutler 1

Photo by Craig Cutler

Craig Cutler 2

Photo by Craig Cutler

Craig Cutler 3

Photo by Craig Cutler

Craig Cutler 4

Photo by Craig Cutler

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Photo by Craig Cutler

Photo by Craig Cutler

Photo by Craig Cutler

Photo by Craig Cutler

Every summer for the last 10 years, an international team of paleontologists—led by the Dinosaur Institute—has excavated a rich fossil site they named "Gnatalie." Their efforts have unearthed hundreds of bones of colossal dinosaurs—long-necked sauropods, armored and plated dinosaurs, and their predators—in the process crafting a picture of this dusty, dry pocket of southeastern Utah 150 million years ago.

The Dinosaur Institute has an extremely active field program, and has made collections from all corners of the earth, including Argentina, Brazil, China, Kazakhstan, and Antarctica. These projects are funded by grants big and small, as well as by individual donors. We currently have field expeditions collecting from every period of the Age of Dinosaurs (Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretaceous) from throughout the western United States. Fieldwork helps us build our collection, create our museum exhibits, and drive our research, but it also provides unique experiences and transformative educational opportunities for our volunteers, students of all ages, and museum supporters.


 

Thank you for supporting the Dinosaur Institute