EKALAKA — For more than 100 years, paleontologists from the country’s most renowned institutions have been culling the fertile geologic formations of Carter County, uncovering some of the world’s most prized fossils.
They’ve battled over the unique and rare specimens taken from what was the edge of an inland sea that retreated about 70 million years ago. Finds from the area have sparked many a debate: Is this skull fragment from a juvenile dinosaur or an entirely different species? Did helmet-skulled dinosaurs use their bony domed heads to batter each other in bizarre mating rituals?
There are many questions yet to be answered and more species to be discovered.
On Friday, some of the most storied scientists now working paleontology will be in Ekalaka to kick off the first annual Dino Shindig.
The Shindig is the brainchild of a group of Montana State University students working this summer on a project to take the Carter County Museum to new heights. Nathan Carroll, who heads the project, said many paleontologists working in the area this summer have volunteered to make presentations on their work at the Ekalaka Community Center.
It will be a fundraiser for the museum as well as a chance to show off the museum to potential donors.
Admission to events beginning at 9 a.m. is $5. Children under 12 get in free.
Presenters include Scott Williams of the Burpee Museum of Natural History, Joe Peterson of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh and Mark Goodwin of the University of California Museum of Paleontology.
The “Red Neck” barbecue begins the event at 11:15 a.m. The afternoon session begins with Thomas Carr of Wisconsin’s Carthage College, Jack Horner of the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Tyler Lyson of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Thomas Holtz of the University of Maryland.
A live auction begins at 4:15. The evening ends with a popular local band, 4-Wheel Drive, providing the music.
On Saturday, about 50 visitors will get a chance to attend a field school near Ekalaka. On Sunday, the locals get the same chance.
Also on Friday, a full day of children’s activities is planned at the museum. The program begins at 9 a.m. and will include a scavenger hunt, dino-digging sandbox and Robo-Rex.
Live auctions of autographed souvenirs, fossil casts and local art will occur throughout the day.