HANKSVILLE, Utah (ABC 4 News) – They’ve been buried for tens of millions of years and now dozens of dinosaurs are being unearthed on BLM land in Utah.  

Just outside of Hanksville, Utah is the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry. After striking gold in Montana, the team from the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Illinois was looking for another dig site. In 2007, a paleontologist from the Utah Geological Survey suggested Hanksville. 

Scott Williams, Director of Science and Exhibits at Burpee Museum took ABC 4 Utah on a tour of the site. “Basically wherever we’re walking now all of this material here are shards, broken out chunks of dinosaur bone.”

Williams explained that the Hanksville dig site used to be an ancient river, and when dinosaurs would die the carcasses would be washed down the river and deposited along its banks. Now some 147 million years later scientists and volunteers from the Burpee Museum are unearthing them.

“So when we saw all this we were pretty confident there would be more,” said Williams.

And boy where they right. “The first day we had over 40 bones uncovered, by the end of the first week it was 100,” explained Williams. 

By the end of the first four weeks the Burpee team had over 500 bones uncovered or mapped. Williams said, “I’ve never had a bone bed like this, I mean it’s gargantuan bone bed. It just goes and goes.”

The fossils date to the late Jurassic period and are mostly made up of Sauropods, the long neck dinosaurs. Williams said, “We have dinosaurs like Apatosaurus, many people remember as Brontosaurus, Diplodocus, Camarasaurus, Barosaurus. We do have some carnivorous like Allosaurus and Ceratosaurus.”

Just last year they found a very rare armored dinosaur called Mymoorapelta. Williams says there’s only been 8 specimens ever found. “This is where we found most of the armored dinosaur and we’re finding more of it as we go,” said Williams. “This is one of it’s ribs right here.”>

So far the Burpee team has found and identified about 14 to 15 dinosaurs. They’re working on finding the roughly 300 bones that belong to each one. Things get tricky when the dinosaur fossils are all jumbled together.
 
“There’s at least 3 dinosaurs here, um, probably more just in this pile,” said Williams. “It’s not like Jurassic Park where you just sweep and there’s a whole dinosaur.”

Here at the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry it’s not just paleontologists that get to do the sweeping and the digging. For a tax-deductible donation to the museum you can go out on an excavation expedition.

John Heller, a retired micro-biologist from Wisconsin, has been going out on Burpee digs for the last decade. “There’s not that many places where there’s a working quarry where you can come in and do this kind of work,” said Heller. “So it’s science in the raw.”

Even for the most seasoned paleontologists, the Hanksville Burpee Quarry is unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Williams said, “It’s kind of a privilege to be part of a site that’s going to outlive me, because these dinosaurs go this way a quarter of a mile and who knows how far that way.”

Public tours end for the season Saturday, but it doesn’t mean you can’t head out to the site on your own. It’s BLM land, which means it’s public land. Thy ask if you head out to the site, just be respectful and please don’t take any fossils home with you.

For more information on the Hanksville-Burpee Dinosaur Quarry log on to:

And for more information on the Burpee Museum of Natural History log on to: