Each summer, paleontologists from around the world converge on Dinosaur Provincial Park for an intense period of digging that starts in late June and lasts for approximately 10 weeks. The earliest dinosaur hunters simply excavated whole or partial skeletons for museum display. Although the basic excavation methods haven’t changed, the types of excavation have.
“Bonebeds” of up to one hectare are painstakingly excavated over multiple summers. Access to much of the park is restricted in order to protect the fossil beds. Digging takes place within the restricted areas. Work is often continued from the previous season, or commences on new sites, but there’s never a lack of bones. New finds are often discovered with little digging, having been exposed by wind and rain since the previous season.
Excavating the bones is an extremely tedious procedure; therefore, only a few sites are worked on at a time, with preference given to particularly important finds such as a new species. Getting the bones out of the ground is only the beginning of a long process that culminates with their scientific analysis and display by experts at museums around the world.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition