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What is the context of this research?
Paleontology doesn’t get funding. The vertebrate paleontology collection at the Burke consists of about 50,000 specimens. Of these, about 90% are fossil mammals, so dinosaurs and other fossil reptiles are greatly underrepresented in our collection. This means that our displays aren't are good as they could be, but also that I'm limited in what I can use in the lab of my paleontology classes.
What is the significance of this project?
This project has the potential to generate a tremendous legacy. Triceratops is an iconic dinosaur and the Burke Museum would love to have a more complete specimen on display. Beyond the public aspect of the project, dinosaur fossils are used in a number of classes at the UW, so additional Triceratops material would be used for years to come while we train undergraduates and graduates in paleontology, evolution, and the history of the Earth.
What are the goals of the project?
First, we will apply for an excavation permit from the Bureau of Land Management. This special permit is necessary because the Triceratops is on public land. We plan to excavate over an area of approximately 150 square feet (10' x 15'). Once we have the permit, we will head out to Wyoming with a group including Burke Museum staff, museum volunteers, as well as graduate and undergraduate students in paleontology. Depending on how complete the skeleton turns out to be, the dig could take between 1-3 weeks. Once the skeleton is back at the lab, preparing it for display will take a lot longer!