Current Exhibits

Bone Up on Your Fossils

Fossils are not just curiosities. They are the only direct evidence for the history of life on Earth, starting with the first life which evolved 3.5 billion years ago. Fossils tell us about past environments, and how catastrophic events like meteorite impacts or massive volcanoes shaped global ecosystems. Study of how ancient life responded to change can help predict how modern-day ecosystems might respond to current environmental change, or how we may need to react to similar challenges ourselves.

Dinosaur Detectives: the case of Warwick’s Duck

If you know what to look for, sometimes we find exceptional fossils bearing clues that reveal an individual animal’s life history, giving key insight into the behavior and ecology of its species.

In July 2009, Dickinson Museum Curator Denver Fowler and his father Warwick were prospecting for new fossil sites in the Hell Creek Formation of eastern Montana. After rounding a small butte, Warwick discovered a site where hundreds of pale colored dinosaur bone fragments were spilling down the side of a low hill.

They could tell from the shape of the bones that they were vertebrae (backbones) of a duckbilled dinosaur called Edmontosaurus. The vertebrae were arranged in a row (articulated), as they would have been in life, and a few meters away we could see the end of a leg bone sticking out of the mudstone. Could there be a whole duckbill skeleton in the hillside? This looked very promising so they decided to dig in!

What they found was… Warwick’s duck.

Species: Edmontosaurus annectens
Type: Family Hadrosauridae (duckbill)
Geological Unit:
Hell Creek Formation
67 million years old
Late Cretaceous Period
Location: Garfield County, Montana
Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
US Fish & Wildlife Service
Date collected: July 2009
Discoverer: Warwick Fowler
Specimen No.: Museum of the Rockies (MOR) 3003

Come and see it for yourself!


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