The Dragon Wagon

The Dragon Wagon
The landscaping changes often.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Black Hills Institute of Geological Research

What does an "Older Fossil" (my username on many Internet forums) do when spending several days near Hill City, South Dakota?  Why he goes to view other fossils of course!  I had been reading about the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research for many years.  The BHIGR is a private company that specializes in the collection and preparation of fossils.   Since they are located in Hill City, just a couple of miles from where we have been camping, this was definitely on my list.

Their museum has a pretty extensive collection, which unfortunately is displayed in a fairly small space, so things look a little crowded.  Most of the displayed skeletons on the main floor are fiberglass casts of specimens held by other institutions.

They had a nice display of one of my favorite fossils, ammonites.  Ammonites were early cephalopods, ancient relatives of today's Nautilus.

I've always liked the complex suture patterns found in the later species of ammonites.  The suture pattern is formed where the walls that separate the chambers inside the shell contact the outer shell.  In ammonites, these walls became extremely intricately folded.

Sometimes the beautiful nacra (mother-of-pearl) of the original shell is preserved.

A nice collection of fossil fish and others from the famous Green River Formation

It is amazing how little the Horseshoe Crab and Stingray have changed over geologic time.

Crinoids (fossils of sea bottom dwelling plant-like animals)

This is one of the wonderful feathered dinosaur specimens from China which are confirming the dinosaur origin of birds.  Note the long tail feathers.

The BHIGR has long been involved in the study of tyrannosaurids, especially the famous Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Triceratops skull

The curious skull of a Titanothere (an ancient relative of today's rhinos)

Cast of a Coelophysis specimen found at Ghost Ranch in New Mexico
(where we visited earlier this year)

One of the flying reptiles, a pteranodon

Beautifully articulated Struthiomimus specimen

We thought that this Oviraptorosaur skull almost looked
like a scrap-metal, steam-punk sculpture!

Dracorex hogwartsia
This dinosaur "dragon" was a vegetarian!

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