The Wyoming Dinosaur Center

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center is a 501c(3) non-profit organization devoted to the advancement of education, outreach and research. We provide outstanding hands-on geologic and paleontological experiences that are engaging and enjoyable for visitors of all ages. This world-class facility displays one of the largest and most unique fossil collections in the world and our dig sites have some of the richest fossil bearing strata in the western United States.

Our mission is to explore, explain, and sustain Wyoming's natural history legacy. It is vital that we preserve and protect Wyoming's natural history treasures for future generations and insure that they are available in a public venue for scientific and educational study and preservation.

For 160 million years dinosaurs ruled the earth...

They mysteriously disappeared long before the rise of mankind. Only in the last century have we discovered just how important and complex these creatures were and what their lives may have been like. Dinosaurs were first discovered on Warm Springs Ranch in 1993. Fossil hunters were walking the ancient rolling hills around Thermopolis and discovered dinosaur bones weathering out of the mountainsides. This first discovery led to the construction of the Wyoming Dinosaur Center, located at the southern margin of the Big Horn Basin. The complex includes a world-class museum, dig sites, a complete preparation laboratory and an outstanding gift store. The museum provides visitors a window into the ancient past where creatures from prehistory are revealed. Starting with  single celled protozoa, the Walk Thru Time allows visitors to trace the origins of complex life on Earth. Visitors will witness the rise of the arthropods, including a mass death of trilobites, early fish including the Coelacanth, who is the predecessor of land vertebrates, and meet some of the earliest vertebrates such as Dimetrodon. This journey through the first three quarters of life's history on Earth culminates in the rise of the dinosaurs.  In the Hall of Dinosaurs lies "The Thermopolis Specimen", the only Archaeopteryx outside of Europe, a Supersaurus named "Jimbo", one of the largest dinosaurs every mounted, and "Stan", a 35-foot T-Rex charging a Triceratops . With over 30 mounted skeletons and hundreds of displays and dioramas, the Wyoming Dinosaur Center  will educate, inspire and capture the imagination of children and adults alike.
Homepage-Photo

The Tooth Of The Matter

Paleontologist Andrew Rossi on Fossil Friday

Exhibitions

Featured Display

Archaeopteryx: The Thermopolis Specimen The "Missing Link" between birds and dinosaurs

Archaeopteryx

Archaeopteryx-Hologram
“The "Thermopolis Specimen” was discovered in Bavaria, Germany, and has the best-preserved skull and feet of the 12 specimens found to date. However, most of the neck and lower jaw have not been preserved. The "Thermopolis Specimen" was described by Mayr, Pohl, and Peters in the December 2, 2005 Science Journal. The description shows that the Archaeopteryx lacked a reversed toe, a universal feature of birds, limiting its ability to perch on branches and implying a terrestrial or trunk-climbing lifestyle. This has been interpreted as evidence of theropod ancestry. In 1988, Gregory S. Paul claimed to have found evidence of a hyper-extensible second toe, but this was not verified or accepted by other scientists until the "Thermopolis Specimen" was described and published. Until recently, the feature was thought to belong only to the species' close relatives, the Deinonychosaurs. The "Thermopolis Specimen" was assigned to Archaeopteryx Siemensii in 2007. The specimen is considered to represent the most complete and best preserved Archaeopteryx remains yet. Most of the twelve specimens discovered and scientifically described include impressions of feathers, which make Archaeopteryx a clear candidate for a transitional fossil between birds and dinosaurs. Because these feathers are of an advanced form (flight feathers), these fossils are evidence that the evolution of feathers began before the Late Jurassic.”

Our Process

Exploration

Step 1Exploring

Millions of years ago Thermopolis, Wyoming was part of the Sundance Sea. This was a shallow, inland sea that covered large areas during high surface levels of the ocean. These high sea levels were caused by geologic events. Evidence suggests this seaway was a series of events that progressed and regressed from the middle Jurassic onward.

Digging

Step 2Digging

The second step in our process is digging and unearthing dinosaurs. The techniques used to dig dinosaurs have been used since the Cope and Marsh days and are still used today. Technologic advances make mapping and recording the site much easier but the shovel and pick axe can’t be beat.

Preparing

Step 3Preparing

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center has one of the best preparation labs in the west. With over 10 stations massive amounts of dinosaur bones are processed each year. Once bones from the digsites enter the prep lab, they are given an examination to determine what tools are required and how much time will be needed to remove the matrix.

Molding-Casting

Step 4Molding & Casting

The molding and casting facility at The Wyoming Dinosaur Center allows staff to create detailed reproductions of fossils. We use materials that are lighter and sometimes more stable than the original bone. Jimbo, our Supersaurus has bones that are much to heavy and large to be mounted. By molding and casting these bones, we are able to mount the giant 106’ long specimen.”

Activities & Programs

Dig For A Day  & Kids' Dig ProgramChosen as one of Life Books Dream Destinations the Dig For A Day is 100 of the World’s Best Vacations!

WyoDino-Dig-for-a-Day-2

Join Us For A Real Jurassic Adventure!

If you’re looking for a “real-life adventure,” join us on the dig site hunting  for dinosaur bones. Our Dig For A Day Program appeals to all ages, from young children to active senior citizens. Participants dig in the bone bed to discover leg bones, tailbones, ribs and claws, and complete skeletons. Individuals and families are welcome. A parent or legal guardian must accompany small children and young people under age 18.

The Kids' Dig Program provides a unique opportunity for youth, age 8 to 12, to experience paleontology first hand.  Our goal is to foster their enthusiasm and engage them in the wonders of our natural world, and the thrill of science and discovery!

Wyoming Dinosaur Center staff and visitors have removed more than 10,000 bones from the excavation sites. Most fossils are from long-necked sauropods (camarasaur, diplodocus, camptosaur, apatosaur). The ranch dig sites include a "bone bed" formed by an ancient stream that washed bones together in a channel of a river and then buried them in the silts. Another site appears to be a feeding site for the meat eating Allosaur.

If you find fossils, they will remain at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center as they are your contribution to science. Your name, the bone and location will be recorded in our bone registry for all to see! The information and fossils you gather will be used to help our scientific studies. Of course we cannot guarantee you will find a fossil, but even if you do not, you have helped scientists learn more about the site itself.

The Dig For A Day Program is limited to first-come-first-serve. Advance registration is required. You should be in good physical health. The hill can be strenuous. Our climate is dry; the dig sites are about 4,500 feet above sea level, and it is easy to feel the effects of the sun at that altitude. Not to worry though – you are not alone. Our staff will be on-hand to answer questions and to help at all times.

You may dig with us 7 days a week, late May through mid September (weather permitting). Our climate averages about 321 clear days a year. When we do not feel conditions on the hill are safe, we will cancel the dig. Your money will be refunded in full, or we will work with you to reschedule your dig if possible. If your plans change and you cannot participate, we will refund your money as long as you cancel 30 days prior to your reserved date.

What To Expect
  • A brief orientation begins at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center at 8 am on the day of the dig. We will introduce you to local geology and paleontology as well as digging techniques and data collection procedures.
  • Transportation to the site leaves about 8:15 a.m. A sack lunch is provided at the dig site.
  • If you find a dinosaur fossil, technicians will show you how to preserve it while you are working and how to document your find.
  • Equipment is checked in about 3:20 p.m. The van leaves the dig sites for the Center at 3:30 p.m. You will be back at the museum for a guided tour by 4:00.
  • If you arrive the evening before your dig, stop by the museum. We’ll be glad to visit with you about the dig, and you can tour the museum and see technicians at work on bones from the dig sites.
What It Costs
  • Adults: $150.00 per day
  • Children: $100.00 per day
  • Deposit: $50.00 per person (must be made at the time of reservation)

The Kids' Dig Program is limited to 40 children per session. Advance registration is required. We meet at 8:30 in the morning, fill out waivers, fill up water bottles, and head to the field by 9:00. The group will be split into two or more smaller groups.  A typical schedule would look as follows:

Dig site – we will transport the group up to a dig site and go over the basic rules of the site. This keeps both the participants and the bones safe (from such things as accidentally walking through the bone bed). Demonstrations of basic quarry techniques will lead into digging for dinosaurs! Usually there is an hour and a half of digging time (often more than enough for most children). If your child would like to spend more time we would recommend the Dig for a Day Program, and at least one parent is required to participate with them.

Prospecting in the Sundance – we transport the group to the Sundance Formation This geological unit represents an ancient shallow sea from the Jurassic. Participants will be shown typical fossils they can find, and will then be allowed to explore the hillside in small teams.

Museum tour – we will take one group through the museum, starting with a discussion on the formation of the earth then travel through the ‘Walk Through Time.’  The journey concludes with over 30 mounted dinosaur skeletons!

Preparation Lab - while one group is touring the museum the other group will be working in the prep lab. Using toothbrushes and dental picks the children will remove matrix from dinosaur bones. The groups will then rotate.

Molding & Casting - During the afternoon the children will make a cast of a small fossil to take home with them. Proper molding and casting techniques will be taught and instructions given on how to use the materials.

Lunch and terrace walk at the Hot Springs State Park – Lunch will be provided in the Hot Springs State Park. After lunch we will guide the group on a tour of the terraces and discuss their formation, ecology, and local lore.

The 2017 Kids' dig dates are June 23, July 21 and August 18.

What It Costs
  • $100.00 per child
To register for our programs or for more information,  please call (800) 455-3466!

We accept  MasterCard, Visa and Discover. Cost includes materials, tools to excavate fossils and document activities, lunch and transportation to and from the dig site.

Research & Collections

A HYBODONT SHARK FROM THE REDWATER SHALE MEMBER, SUNDANCE FORMATION (JURASSIC), NATRONA COUNTY, WYOMING

by William R. Wahl

Abstract: Remains of a shark specimen were found in the gastric contents of a small-bodied plesiosaur. The fossil material was identified as a member of the Hybodontiformes based on the teeth and dorsal spine denticles.

A NEW SPECIMEN OF THE ELASMOSAURID PLESIOSAUR ZARAFASAURA OCEANIS FROM THE UPPER CRETACEOUS (MAASTRICHTIAN) OF MOROCCO

by Dean R. Lomax and William R. Wahl

Abstract: A new specimen of the Moroccan elasmosaurid plesiosaur Zarafasaura oceanis from the Maastrichtian (Upper Cretaceous) phosphate deposits of Morocco is described.

STRATIGRAPHITY, SEDIMENTOLOGY, AND TAPHONOMY OF A SAUROPOD QUARRY FROM THE UPPER MORRISON FORMATION OF THERMOPOLIS, CENTRAL WYOMING

by Takehito Ikejiri, Pamela S. Watkins and David J. Gray

Abstract: We describe the lithology, stratigraphy and fossils from the Upper Morrison Formation of the Beside Sauropod (BS) Quarry on the Warm Springs Ranch near Thermopolis, Wyoming.

MORPHOLOGY OF A SPECIMEN OF SUPERSAURUS (DINOSAURIA, SAUROPODA) FROM THE MORRISON FORMATION OF WYOMING, AND A RE-EVALUATION OF DIPLODOCID PHYLOGENY

by David M. Lovelace, Scott A. Hartman and William R. Wahl

Abstract: A new specimen of Supersaurus vivianae is described, providing additional information about the osteology of Supersaurus. The single Supersaurus individual that the WDC quarry produced allows a re- examination of elements referred to Supersaurus from the Dry Mesa quarry.

TAPHONOMIC ANALYSIS OF A DINOSAUR FEEDING SITE USING GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS), MORRISON FORMATION, SOUTHERN BIGHORN BASIN, WYOMING, USA

by Debra S. Jennings and Stephen T. Hisiotis

Abstract: Geospatial data collected with a Nikon Total Station from a dinosaur quarry in the upper part of the Morrison Formation in north-central Wyoming were plotted on ArcGIS ArcScene software.

A LONG MORTICHNIAL TRACKWAY OF MESOLIMULUS WALCHI FROM THE UPPER JURASSIC SOLNHOFEN LITHOGRAPHIC LIMESTOME NEAR WINTERSHOF, GERMANY

by Dean R. Lomax and Christopher A. Racay

Abstract: A 9.7 m long trackway was discovered in a plattenkalk quarry near the village of Wintershof, Bavaria, Germany, in 2002. The huge ichnofossil derives from the Lower Tithonian, Upper Jurassic Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone.

PALAEOECOLOGY OF THE MARINE REPITES OF THE REDWATER SHALE MEMBER OF THE SUNDANCE FORMATION (JURASSIC) OF CENTRAL WYOMING, USA

by Judy A. Massare, William R. Wahl, Mike Ross, and Melissa V. Connely

Abstract: The Redwater Shale member (Oxfordian) of the Sundance Formation was deposited in the foreland basin of the Cordillera during the last and largest marine transgression of the Jurassic in North America.

REDISCOVERY OF WILBUR KNIGHT'S MEGALNEUSAURUS REX SITE: NEW MATERIAL FROM AN OLD PIT

by William R. Wahl, Mike Ross, and Judy A. Massare

Abstract: We report the rediscovery of Wilbur Knight's 1895 excavation site of the large Jurassic (Oxfordian) pliosaur Megalneusaurus rex from the Sundance Formation. The type specimen (UW4602) is housed at the University of Wyoming and is the only known pliosaur from the Sundance Formation.

NEW MATERIAL FROM THE TYPE SPECIMEN OF MEGALNEUSAURUS REX (REPTILIA: SAUROPTERYGIA) FROM THE JURASSIC SUNDANCE FORMATION, WYOMING

by William R. Wahl, Judy A. Massare, and Mike Rossi

Abstract: In 2008, an articulated distal forelimb of the type specimen of the large pliosauromorph Megalneusaurus rex (UW 4602) was discovered adjacent to the original excavation pit from which two hindlimbs had been collected in 1895.

THE TENTH SKELETAL SPECIMENT OF ARCHAEOPTERYX

by Gerald Mayr, Burkhard Pohl, Scott Hartman, and D. Stefan Peters

Abstract: We describe the tenth skeletal specimen of the Upper Jurassic Archaeopterygidae. The almost complete and well- preserved skeleton is assigned to Archaeopteryx siemensii Dames, 1897 and provides significant new information on the osteology of the Archaeopterygidae.

Plan Your Visit

Hours & Admission

WINTER SEASON

SEPTEMBER 16TH – MAY 14TH

Hours :  10:00 am to 5:00 pm – 7 days a week
Closed: Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day

Museum Admission

  • Adults: $10.00
  • Kids 4-12, seniors 60 and over, veterans: $8.00
  • Kids 3 and under: free

Group Rates (15 or more)

  • Group rates of 15 or more.
  • Museum Admission Adult: $8.00
  • Kids 4-12, seniors 60 and over, veterans: $6.00

School Groups

  • Museum Admission: $5.00

SUMMER SEASON

MAY 15TH – SEPTEMBER 15TH

Hours: 8:00 am to 6:00 pm – 7 days a week
Open: All Season

Museum Admission

  • Adults: $10.00
  • Kids 4-12, seniors 60 and over, veterans: $8.00
  • Kids 3 and under: free

Dig Site Tour

  • Adults: $12.50
  • Kids 4-12, seniors 60 and over, veterans: $10.50
  • Kids 3 and under: free

Combination Museum Admission & Dig Site Tour

  • Adults: $18.50
  • Kids 4-12, seniors 60 and over, veterans: $14.50
  • Kids 3 and under: free
  • Family discount (2 adults and 2 children): $60.00; additional children and seniors $12.00 each

Group Rates (15 or more)

  • Group rates of 15 or more.
  • Museum Admission Adult: $8.00
  • Kids 4-13, seniors 60 and over, veterans: $6.00
  • Museum Admission and Dig Site Tour: $16.50
  • Kids 4-12, Seniors: $12.50
  • Kids 3 and under: free

School Groups

  • Museum Admission: $5.00
  • Dig Site Tour: $6.50
  • Museum Admission and Dig Site Tour: $8.00

Dig for a Day

  • Adults: 13 and over $150.00
  • Children: under 13 $100.00

Shovel Ready

  • $50.00 per person

Contact Us

The Wyoming Dinosaur Center
110 Carter Ranch Rd.
P.O. Box 868
Thermopolis, WY, U.S.A. 82443
Phone: (307) 864-2997
Toll-Free: (800) 455-DINO

Fax: (307) 864-5762
Email: wdinoc@wyodino.org


Directions

Northwest

From Yellowstone Nat'l Park

(approximately 220 miles, taking 3 hours)


  • Head west on US-14.
  • In Cody, Wyoming, turn right (south) onto WY-120. Go 81.5 miles.
  • WY-120 becomes Broadway St. at Thermopolis Town Center. Continue straight.
  • Continue from Thermopolis Town Center.
Southwest

From Salt Lake City, Utah

(approximately 380 miles, taking 6 hours and 30 minutes)


  • Head west on US-80. Go about 180 miles.
  • In Rock Springs, Wyoming, take Exit #104/US-191 NORTH toward Elk St.
  • Turn right on Elk St. Go 2 miles.
  • Continue on US-191. Go 38 miles.
  • In Farson, Wyoming, turn right (east) onto WY-28. Go 68 miles.
  • Continue on US-287. Go 8.5 miles.
  • In Lander, Wyoming, turn right (northeast) onto WY-789. Go 46.5 miles.
  • In Shoshoni, Wyoming, turn left (north) onto US-20/WY-789 (Idaho St.). Go 32 miles.
  • At Thermopolis Town Center turn right (east) onto Broadway St.
  • Continue from Thermopolis Town Center.
Southeast

From Denver, Colorado

(approximately 410 miles, taking 7 hours)


  • Head north on I-25. Go about 275 miles.
  • In Casper, Wyoming, take Exit #189/US-20 WEST toward Shoshoni. Go 46.5 miles.
  • Continue on US-20. Go 97 miles.
  • In Shoshoni, Wyoming, turn right (north) onto US-20/WY-789 (Idaho St.). Go 32 miles.
  • At Thermopolis Town Center turn right (east) onto Broadway St.
  • Continue from Thermopolis Town Center.
East

From Rapid City, South Dakota

(approximately 333 miles, taking 6 hours)


  • Head west on I-90. Go about 206 miles.
  • In Buffalo, Wyoming, take Exit #58/I-90-BL BUSINESS/US-16 toward Buffalo.
  • Turn left onto I-90-BL. Go 2.5 miles.
  • Turn right onto US-16 WEST (Fort St.). Go 90 miles.
  • In Worland, Wyoming, continue on US-16 as it becomes US-20/WY-789 SOUTH.
  • Go 33 miles.
  • At Thermopolis Town Center turn left (east) onto Broadway St.
  • Continue from Thermopolis Town Center.
North

From Billings, Montana

(approximately 190 miles, taking 3 hours)


  • Head west on I-90. Go about 16 miles.
  • Take Exit #434 toward Laurel/Red Lodge.
  • Turn left onto US-310 SOUTH. Go 29.5 miles.
  • Bear right on MT-27. Go 21.5 miles.
  • MT-27 becomes WY-120. Go 121.5 miles.
  • WY-120 becomes Broadway St. at Thermopolis Town Center. Continue straight.
  • Continue from Thermopolis Town Center.
In-Town

From Thermopolis Town Center


  • Head east from the traffic light on Broadway St.
  • Cross the train tracks and the bridge into East Thermopolis.
  • Broadway St. becomes Hot Springs. Blvd. Bear right.
  • Hot Springs Blvd. becomes E. Fremont St. Bear left.
  • Turn right onto Carter Ranch Rd.
  • The Wyoming Dinosaur Center is the large building on the right side of the street.
  • Welcome!
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