Fossils are big in western North Dakota.
Also South Dakota, Montana and Wyoming.
So big that even a national television network has brought even more attention with a three-episode series which will be concluding July 1 on PBS.
Prehistoric Road Trip started June 17, broadcasting an opening episode titled “Welcome to Fossil Country” with a look at the area encompassing the western edges of the Dakotas and Nebraska, as well as the eastern area of Montana and Wyoming.
As the first episode described it, the series started by looking at billions of years of history while also looking at science and culture.
In the three-part series, Emily Graslie covers three different periods and the remnants or fossils they left behind. The series is a production of WTTW in Chicago. Graslie was the writer and executive producer, as well as the host. She also is a South Dakota native and works at the Field Museum in Chicago.
The second episode (which broadcast June 24) is titled “We Dig Dinosaurs,” while the third episode is called “Tiny Teeth, Fearsome Beasts” (broadcasting July 1).
Over the three episodes, Graslie visits dozens of archaeological digs. She walks through eons of history from the PreCambrian and Paleozoic, through the Mesozoic and Cenozoic to present day. “We’ll travel through billions of years of Earth’s geological timeline,” she explained as the first episode began, “Each stop telling us more about how we got to where we are now.”
She also promised to reveal some of the amazing wonders beneath people’s feet that are still hidden from view.
The first episode takes the viewers through South Dakota, Wyoming and into Montana.
One of the places the crew visited behind the scenes was the Pioneer Trails Regional Museum in Bowman, a regional repository for history from within 100 miles of the community.
According to museum officials, it also studies, collects and curates vertebrates, invertebrates and plants from 73 million years old marine deposits up to the youngest deposits of the area, which are 28 million years old.
Some of the animals that have been found are mosasaurs, plesiosaurs, dinosaurs and early mammals that include camels, rhinoceroses, horses, and giant pigs.
The demise of the dinosaurs and the changes in local paleoenvironments are just a couple of areas in which the Paleontology Department has been researching over the past decade.
This research is conducted in the rugged landscapes along the Little Missouri Badlands drainage in southwestern North Dakota.
The museum reopened in mid-May, after closing in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The museum staff is still asking visitors to practice social distancing and keep groups to ten or less.
The museum is continuing to go through some additions to their displays and will be continuing to add to them throughout the summer, according to the staff.’
In addition to a large fossil display, including a triceratops, the museum has a regional focus on the history of the area.
The museum is on a summer schedule, open Monday through Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.