Australian Age of Dinosaurs
Queensland, Australia

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Trish Sloan
Field Paleontologist & Collection Manager
Australian Age of Dinosaurs

  1. What makes your site significant?
    Everything we unearth is significant as it is usually completely new to the Australian fossil record and helps us to broaden our understanding of the life that existed 95 million years ago.   

  2. What has been most surprising about your discoveries at this location?
    In the Winton region the topsoil is known as blacksoil. Under this layer are layers of siltstone and sandstone called the Winton Formation. As the soil swells and contracts over many years, fossils are slowly brought up to the surface by the rotation effect of the blacksoil. Despite this self-mulching process, fossil preservation can be exceptional but is always surprising. Another surprising aspect of our discoveries is the evidence of animal diversity that existed – from small theropods, crocodiles, giant sauropods, bivalves, flying reptiles and even large meat-eating dinosaurs.

  3. What are your current research objectives at your site? 
    The Fossil Preparation Laboratory’s key objective is to prepare specimens for scientific study and display. Every specimen prepared will be researched, scientifically described and made available to the public.

  4. What was most important or rewarding find at this site?
    There have been quite a few important specimens prepared in the Laboratory and later scientifically described. These include the holotype specimens of the long-necked sauropod Diamantinasaurus matildae, the most complete pterosaur Ferrodraco lentoni and a large carnivorous theropod Australovenator wintonensis. We are currently preparing a sub-adult sauropod discovered in life position in 2017, this will be ready for research in the next few years.

All the digs featured on Ancient Odysseys are non-profits and rely upon visitors and donations to continue their important scientific work. Please consider donating if you would like to support this organization's mission. All donations are tax deductible.

Click here to donate to Australian Age of Dinosaurs

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Fossils found:   
Australovenator wintonensis, Diamantinasaurus matildae, Savannasaurus elliottorum, Ferrodraco lentoni
Period: Cretaceous
Formation: Winton Formation

Description:

 

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs offers an immersive lab prep experience to work on cleaning and preparing fossils specimens that have been discovered in the Winton Formation. This is a Cretaceous formation in central-western Queensland, Australia. It consists of sedimentary rocks such as sandstone, siltstone and claystone ­­ the remnants of the river plains that filled the basin left by the Eromanga Sea – an inland sea that covered large parts of Queensland and central Australia at least four times during the Early Cretaceous.

 

By virtue of its age and the environmental conditions under which the rocks it consists of were deposited, the Winton Formation represents one of the richest sources of dinosaur fossils anywhere in Australia. Most are sauropod fossils~gigantic four-legged plant eaters which are characterized by their long necks, large bellies, pillar-like limbs, long tails and small heads. To date the Museum has discovered, prepared and assisted in the scientific publication of three new sauropod species: Diamantinasaurus matildae, Savannasaurus elliottorum and Wintonotian Wattsi

During the Prep-a-dino lab experience, you will have the opportunity to learn to prepare an array of 100-95 million year old Cretaceous sauropod and theropod ribs, pelvic girdles, limb bones and clavicles, in addition to Eocene turtle bones, Devonian coral, Cretaceous ammonites and Proterozoic stromatolites. You will be part of a long tradition of Prep-a-dino participants who have prepared specimens in the Australian Age of Dinosaur Museum's collection over the years. 

The Australian Age of Dinosaurs does offer a dinosaur dig experience which is sold out for 2022 but will be hosted again in 2023. The Prep-a-Dino experience is an important aspect of paleontology. Once fossils are collected from the field, they must be meticulously cleaned and prepared in a lab environment. This allows scientists and researchers to study the species in detail. The preservation of the dinosaur fossils in the Australian Age of Dinosaurs' collection is impressive, even by world standards.

What's Included:

Don't miss your chance to spend a full day at the Australian Age of Dinosaurs Museum preparing real dinosaur fossils for display and touring the facilities. This is a great opportunity for anyone looking for an express induction into fossil preparation in Outback Queensland. 

  • Induction and training with a senior Museum Technician with safety gear is provided). As participants gain more confidence and refine their preparation skills, they are progressively given harder specimens to work on.

  • Mechanical preparation of dinosaur bones, including restoration, repairs using: 

    • Air chisel which remove large chips of rock.

    • Air scribes or WEN pens which are the standard tool used for the removal of rock or matrix from around the fossil.

    • Micro-jacks remove rock from around the fossil, grain by grain, and is used on fragile specimens as well as smaller fossils like teeth.

  • Consolidation of specimens, sieving, sorting of matrix for micro-fossils and helping to put pieces of the dinosaur puzzle together.​

  • Guided tour of the most productive Fossil Preparation Laboratory in the Southern Hemisphere

  • Movie presentation in the Collection Room surrounded by the only fossil examples of Australovenator wintonensis (Banjo), Diamantinasaurus matildae (Matilda) and Savannasaurus elliottorum (Wade) – in the world!

  • Immersive guided tour of Dinosaur Canyon, an outdoor exhibition featuring life-sized bronze dinosaurs and the Cretaceous Garden

  • Membership to the Australian Age of Dinosaurs society + the latest copy of the AAOD Journal.​

  • Accommodations not included, but available upon request.

2022 Dates

Mondays through Saturdays  from March-October 
Limited to 8 participants

Ages 12+ 
(children 12-16 must be accompanied by an adult)

3-day Prep-A-Dino
$229 AU
1 day Prep-A-Dino
$99 AU
Add the 14-day itinerary  $3,971

Prices starting at

5-day Prep-A-Dino
$359 AU

Clicking the above links will take you directly to the AAOD contact page. Participation is subject to availability and is at the full discretion of the dig location. Prices and dates dates subject to change. 

Based on 4 people. | Flights and rental car costs not included | Prices and dates subject to change.

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