Earn College Credit Digging for Dinosaur Bones at Mesalands Community College

PR Newswire

TUCUMCARI, N.M., May 22, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Mesalands Community College will offer a series of summer paleontology field classes in June and in July. During these one-week courses, students excavate fossils and then process them at Mesalands Community College's Dinosaur Museum and Natural Sciences Laboratory.

Mesalands offers one of the nation's only two-year Associate of Art degrees in Paleontology, which provides a primary education in the earth and biological sciences with an emphasis on paleontology. Students are exposed to the fundamentals of geology, biology, and paleontology.

The summer field classes take place in the Redonda Formation, dating from 200 Million years ago (the late Triassic Period) in an area approximately 25 miles from Tucumcari. Participants will search for vertebrate fossils from the "Dawn of the Age of Dinosaurs," record all pertinent data, excavate finds, begin examining, cleaning, and assembling finds in the lab. The area of exploration is one of only a few locations in the Southwest that have yielded abundant remains of vertebrates from the Late Triassic time period.

Courses are scheduled during the following time periods - June 9-13, June 23-27 and July 7-11 – and the $650 course fee includes tuition and fees, use of tools and field materials, transportation to the excavation site, lunch each day, kick-off reception, barbeque dinner and specially designed t-shirt.

This four-credit hour course can be used as a science elective and many students who attend other universities take this course to fulfill their science elective. 

"These digs have been very successful in finding fossils," said Dr. Axel Hungerbuehler, Natural Sciences faculty member and curator at Mesalands. "This is also a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to take part in research projects."

Previous field class participants have recovered numerous fossils in the field area, including two skulls of the crocodile-like phytosaur Redondasaurus, armor plates and postcrania from a new heavily armored aetosaur, remains of a large predatory rauisuchian, and several hip and limb bones of one of the earliest dinosaurs.

Interested students may contact Dr. Hungerbuehler at (575) 461-4413 ext. 252, or axelh@mesalands.edu for more information or to register for the course.

About Mesalands

Mesalands Community College is an institution of higher education that promotes student learning through quality education and services while fostering personal growth, leadership, and opportunity to a culturally diverse community.

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