On the Expedition
Get a little Cretaceous at the Arlington Archosaur Site, a remarkable dig yielding, fish, crocodile, turtle, shark, ray, plant, dinosaur, and archosaur fossils in stunning abundance and curious combination.
The discovery of fossil-bearing rock represents a rare opportunity to peer back through time and observe what the world was like in the distant past. The Arlington Archosaur Site (AAS) is unique in producing hundreds of fossils from a relatively unexplored section of Cretaceous rock, approximately 95-100 million years in age. This fossil site provides important information on ancient coastal ecosystems during a period of Earth’s history that was very different from today, and its unique fossils include a large herbivorous dinosaur, a new large crocodile, carnivorous dinosaurs, turtles, a new species of lungfish, sharks, skates, bony fish, and invertebrates along with fossil wood and plants. The site it is located within a densely populated urban setting, and in time, will likely fall victim to further urban sprawl. You can help continue field and lab work to better understand the importance of this site before it’s lost to further urbanization.
You’ll excavate in the soil and peat of a gently sloping hill, and map each fossil specimen as they are found. You’ll be needed to help clear more of the hillside for digging, and dig trenches to help drain water from the dig area. Back in the lab, you’ll prepare the fossils for identification and storage. You may also be needed to help sort through the screenwashed sediment looking for microvertebrate fossils under microscopes.
To date, the findings include a mixture of primitive/relict taxa and younger, more advanced groups. This transitional nature makes it particularly important to understanding the evolutionary history of North America during the Cretaceous.
Meals and Accommodations
Your team will stay in hotel accommodation with full amenities. Rooms house 2-3 volunteers and feature a kitchenette. Singles and couples are available at extra cost. Continental breakfasts are provided at the hotel. Coolers will be stocked with lunch materials for sandwiches and snacks out at the site. This will consist of lunch meats, cheeses, peanut butter and jelly, condiments, plus chips and fruit. Water and soda will be provided but we recommend that volunteers bring their own water bottles to cut down on plastic waste. Group dinners will be enjoyed at local restaurants. No trip to Dallas would be complete without trying some local Tex-Mex or BBQ!
About the Research Area
The Arlington Archosaur Site is a prolific fossil site in northern Arlington, Texas. Discovered in the summer of 2003 by students and local fossil collectors, it was first excavated in 2008 and some of the early fossil finds quickly identified as dinosaur teeth and vertebrae, with various crocodile scutes and teeth. Hence the origin of the name for the site, as dinosaurs and crocodiles both belong to the Archosaurs; the "Ruling Reptiles".
Full scale excavation of the site began in earnest in the spring of 2008 and continued with the help of dedicated volunteers. To date, more dinosaur fossils have been recovered from this site than from any other in the Dallas Fort Worth region, but it’s only with the continued assistance of volunteers that the excavation of this incredible site can continue.
The site has produced numerous fossils from various species, the most prominent being those of dinosaurs, and in particular, the skeleton of a large herbivorous dinosaur. An ornithopod, it is a large "duck billed" hadrosaur or iguanodont. The only known duck billed dinosaur here is Protohadros byrdi, which is critically important to science as hadrosaurs evolved from iguanodonts during the Mid-Cretaceous and is therefore a transitional species, or "missing link".