Kids looking at dinosaur bones

Dinosaurs

Millions of years before the formation of the Missouri River in Montana, dinosaurs made this once lush wetland their home. Today the lazy river has forged its way through a variety of geological formations, including the Judith River and Hell Creek Formations. Northeastern Montana has provided a wealth of world class fossil discoveries. The Tyrannosaurus rex finds are among the most outstanding. The 66-million-year-old Cretaceous carnivore weighed nearly ten tons and was 40 feet long. The first scientifically described T. rex was excavated in Montana in 1902. More T. rex skeletons have been found in Montana than anywhere else. Excavations around the region continue to take place annually. Some digs are open to the public.

Where you can learn more about dinosaurs

Visitors to Missouri River Country can see the remains of many species of dinosaurs at area museums. The Fort Peck Powerhouse Museum in Fort Peck has a Triceratops skull on display, along with numerous fossils that were discovered during the digging of Fort Peck Dam.

The Fort Peck Dam Interpretive Center and Museum is now open to the public, featuring both the skeleton and a fleshed-out copy of “Peck’s Rex”, a T. rex that was found in the area in 1997.

The Phillips County Museum features fossil discoveries from the nearby Judith River Formation (late Brachylophosaurus, one of the best articulated dinosaur skeletons ever found, and a dynamically posed 28’ skeleton of an early cousin to T. rex called Albertosaurus. Pose with a 700-pound Apatosaurus femur and shop in the gift store.

The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum offers the public an intimate look into a working paleontological institution. Visitors can journey through Montana’s dinosaur record from the 150 million year old Morrison Formation with fossils from the long-necked sauropod Camarasaurus and the plated, spikey-tailed Stegosaurus. Next travel to the inland sea that used to run though North America and see bizarre sea creatures like the coiled ammonites. Then emerge back on land in the 78 million year old Judith River Formation. The area around Phillips County is world renowned for this formation. The Brachylophosaurus “Leonardo” is the Guinness Book of World Records “best preserved dinosaur”, and the Museum has the best growth series of this dinosaur anywhere. Finally you end in the 66 million year old Hell Creek Formation – the last period in Montana before the asteroid hit and ended the reign of the dinosaurs. The Museum offers several educational programs including classes and fossil digging opportunities for kids and adults. Here you will be able to learn not only about Montana’s prehistory, but how paleontologists collect, clean, and study fossils, and how they share these discoveries with the world.

The Garfield County Museum displays a full-scale model of a Triceratops, which was found about 35 miles from Jordan in 1964. Check with the museum for information about dig-site tours.

To learn more about Montana’s world-class dinosaurs, visit the Montana Dinosaur Trail website. Information on dinosaur exploration and excavation programs and ongoing paleo. research can be found at the following website: Great Plains Dinosaur Museum (located in Malta).