Thursday, March 24, 2011


On our way to Mount Rushmore and Custer State Park, we stopped at Black Hills Institute in Hill City. We saw first hand the "kid in the candy shop" with our friend Charles and fossils. We explored the museum, which was very well done in their display and quality of fossils.
The main exhibit hall - stuffed full of several original dinosaur skeletons and full size replicas of the big dinosaurs and their relatives, and the highest quality invertebrate fossils.
STAN, the Tyrannosaurus rex, the second most complete T. rex. skeleton found to date. SUE is the largest and most complete skeleton found. BHI has collected eight different T. rex skeletons to date, including SUE, STAN, DUFFY, STEVEN, FOX, E D Cope, BUCKY, and WYREX.
Fossil cycad trunks that lived in the tropical climate that covered South Dakota.
Fossil bird from China with feathers preserved - this specimen has just been returned from Stanford where it was examined to see if it preserves evidence of the orignal pigmentation.
As an environmental educator, I thought this "dig" was perfect for visitors of all ages. 
My boys loved it!

Behind the Scenes Tour
We then were given an amazing behind the scenes tour of their facilities by an owner of BHI, Neal Larson, an ammonite expert. Mr. Larson has so much energy and knowledge in fossils. He has his hand in many areas of paleontology, from excavating and publishing research to education and for profit replica making. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with him.  

This mosasaur is Tylosaurus proriger from Upper Cretaceous, Niobrara Chalk of west-central Kansas. Quite a few shark teeth are with the skeleton, showing why the paddles are missing.
The for-profit part of BHI makes cast replicas for museums.
Here is one in process on the left. I love the use of legos in this work!
Ammonite Lovers Only 
All others will be extinct
I just loved this drawing on one of the specimen cabinets.
An actual tooth from Stan on the left.
A scientist in his element.
Replica skin, molded from the real skin and impression of a Triceratops.
Replicas of a bat and fish (left) and snake (right)
Drawers and drawers of ammonites.
Nature's fractals - the septal pattern of an ammonite - Sphenodiscus.

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