Young Dinos/Young Diggers

keving terris

On a high school summer field trip, 17-year-old Kevin Terris made the kind of discovery professional paleontologists dream about. In Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, Terris noticed a piece of bone sticking out of a boulder. The bone was part of a set of dinosaur toes, in what proved to be the most complete skeleton ever found of a baby tube-crested Parasaurolophus.

A year passed before a thousand pounds of boulder, wrapped in burlap and plaster, could be airlifted by helicopter and trucked to the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California. Fossil experts spent almost 1,300 hours painstakingly chipping away rock to reveal the 75-million-year-old dinosaur, nicknamed Joe. Joe's fossil skull showed scientists that plant-eating, trumpet-headed dinosaurs' well-known head crests began growing when they were still infants.


Learners can try their hand at digging up dinosaurs any time of year, with activities like Classroom Dinosaur Dig and Fossil Dig Site. Take learners the next step to understanding what fossils tell us, with activities like How We Know What the Dinosaurs Looked Like: How Fossils Were Formed and Dinosaur Skull and Body Length Predictions. Want to learn more about paleontologists working in the field? Meet dinosaur hunter Matt Wedel, who has discovered fossils of the 50- to 60-ton dinosaur species Supersaurus

(Photo of Kevin Terris and dinosaur art courtesy Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology)