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North Dakota Geological Survey announces public fossil dig dates

Becky Barnes is pictured digging out a rib, next to a cast bone, her jug of sun tea, and supplies at a dig held near Bismarck. (Photo courtesy of the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources)

BISMARCK — The North Dakota Geological Survey has announced dates and locations for the 2018 Public Fossil Dig.

Experienced and amateur diggers are welcome to attend one of the four sites across North Dakota: Dickinson area, June 25-29; Medora, July 12-15; Bismarck area, July 19-21, 23-28; and Pembina Gorge, Aug. 7-11.

"The Public Fossil Dig has been growing every year since it started," said Clint Boyd, senior paleontologist and curator for the North Dakota Geological Survey. He urged anyone interested to register as quickly as possible starting at 8 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 1.

After national media coverage last summer, like the New York Times story, "When Dinosaurs Roamed North Dakota," people now travel thousands of miles to participate in the dig.

"We currently have a list of more than 300 people from all over the country eagerly awaiting information on the 2018 digs, and we anticipate registration filling up quickly," said Ed Murphy, a North Dakota state geologist.

Boyd said there are still still have plenty of fossils to uncover. During the expedition, participants may expect to find T-Rex teeth, pieces of 30-million-year-old mammals, or undiscovered species.

"We find stuff every single day. Up in the Pembina Gorge, we're expecting to uncover a new species of reptile. It's very exciting," Boyd said.

Participants should be aware that the hike lasts for most of the day, without access to public restrooms, restaurants, cell phone service, and sometimes without any form of shade from the sun. They ask that you pack your own lunch, plenty of water, hat, sunglasses, camera, etc. Exposure to the elements is guaranteed.

Ages 12 or older can register, with select dates allowing half days for ages 10 and 11. The cost is $10 per person. To register, call Mindy Austin at 701-328-8015.

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