Sunday, August 30, 2015

Black Hills Institute of Geological Research

On Tuesday, we went to the dinosaur museum in Hill City.  When we drove up, it looked like this small storefront in a touristy strip mall on Main Street, and I think we all were wondering if it was really going to be worth it.  We got inside, and this is what we saw:

There was only one room (well, with a small side room for gems and fancy rocks) but it was CRAMMED full of dinosaur fossils.  The docent told me that this museum has more dinosaur bones per square inch than any other museum in the world, and I would believe it.  It was really cool!  Here is Megan standing by Stan, the second most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton ever found, and here is Amelia standing by a reproduction of Stan's head, so that you can see how big his teeth were.

I thought this was very interesting; it's the skeleton of a dinosaur's skull, right next to a model of what paleontologists think the head would have actually looked.  I forget what type of dinosaur this was, perhaps I should ask Megan.  She took these photos, because she wanted to get a photo of everyone by their favorite thing.

Stan was Grandpa's favorite, too:

But Grandma liked the plesiosaur, which Megan said was an Elasmosaurus.  It was impossible to get his entire skeleton in one photo, but Megan did a great job trying!  Next to the plesiosaur was a gigantic prehistoric turtle.

We took turns watching Nathaniel so that everyone could see the museum.  Grandma took him over to look at dinosaur teeth:

And Megan showed Grandma some of her favorite things and taught her about them.  I believe she is pointing out the baby pachycephalosaurus in the first picture, and noting that babies did not have large smooth lumps on their heads, while adults did.  Instead, the babies had a bunch of spikes.

Mom and Dad spent some time looking at other fossils, but the kids and I mostly looked at the dinosaurs and other prehistoric reptiles.

I believe this photo was showing how paleontologists put plaster casts on fossils before they remove them from the dig sites.  You can see some lovely ammonites in the background.

And they had a pteranodon skeleton handing from the ceiling.  It was huge.

This museum had a fossil dig area for kids, too.  Megan spent a long time scrupulously cleaning all the rubber "dirt" off this fossil.

It was really nice that the museum had a few touch fossils that kids could actually put their hands on, especially because most of the dinosaur skeletons were within reach of the kids.  I'm not sure if these were actual bones, or if they were casts of bones, but the kids didn't know the difference.

When we got back to our rental house, it was time for Nathaniel to take a nap:

So Mom and I took the girls into Custer to see if we could find any stuffed prairie dogs in the numerous gift shops.  Sadly, not a single prairie dog could be found.  But we got to see quite a few of the painted bison on parade:

Mom, I think we have more photos just of the dinosaurs and fossils (with no kids), so if you want any of those, I can look through my collection and see what I can find for you.

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