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Stones and Bones: A Practicum in Paleontology

Summer Programs for High School Students

Join Field Museum Vice President of Research and Collections Lance Grande for a four-week intensive practicum in paleontology. Go into the field and behind the scenes at the Field Museum to learn how fossils are collected, analyzed, and conserved, as you work alongside museum scientists in the lab and in the field.

In Chicago, Grande and other Field Museum scientists will take you into the labs and galleries where they work and study as they introduce you to important concepts in geology, paleontological method, stratigraphy, and earth history. You will also learn about basic techniques for the study of evolutionary biology including comparative skeletal anatomy of fishes and other freshwater animals. You will also examine methodological concepts such as fossil preparation, illustration, and description. In this way, you will acquire the fundamental scientific background needed to discover and understand the significance of fossils in the field.

Then, experience what life in the field is all about when you join the ongoing Field Museum expedition in the Green River Formation. This site is one of the world's productive fossil sites and contains an entire 52-million-year-old community of extinct organisms. Previous expeditions to the Green River Formation have led Dr. Grande and his team to uncover thousands of fossils, including plants, insects, mammals, crocodiles, birds, lizards, turtles, and fishes, many of which are currently on display at the museum. Spend your mornings and late afternoon prospecting for fossils from the Cenozoic Period and interpret them in a way that allows you to incorporate fossils into studies of living animals and plants. In the early afternoon and evenings, you can go into town for provisions, help prepare meals for your fellow diggers, and sit around the campfire with the museum's researchers and their families. When you return to Chicago, you will conserve, catalog, and analyze your new discoveries in the museum's preparation labs, using the same techniques and equipment that the museum's own staff uses.

Please note that participants in this course will encounter strenuous field conditions in Wyoming, including camping in tents, traversing rugged terrain, and excavating in extreme heat during the day as well as sleeping in colder temperatures at night.

The Field Museum is considered one of the finest natural history museums in the world, with top-notch collections as well as a strong research team. The museum exhibits a wide range of prehistoric life, from dinosaurs like the famous T.rex., "Sue," to early mammals, birds, and fish. It is one of the few museums in the world to maintain regular fossil-hunting expeditions in search of prehistoric remains. Learn more about the Field Museum's expedition site in the Green River Formation by visiting this link, where you can click on interactive maps to experience a virtual tour of the excavation and the prehistoric fossils that you are likely to discover. Stones and Bones gives you a unique opportunity to participate in the paleontological study carried out by the museum.

For more information, click here.