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Hands-on Citizen Science Paleontology Dig Itineraries Now Available in South Africa

Just in time for Citizen Science Month, Ancient Odysseys® is pleased to announce that we have joined forces with GENUS Paleosciences to offer once-in-a-lifetime paleontology and fossil dig itineraries for citizen scientists visiting South Africa.

The partnership brings travelers to dig at paleontology sites containing animal and hominid fossils dating back millions of years. It's an unparalleled blend of science and real, hands-on discovery, allowing travelers to make meaningful contributions to scientific research. The digs are led by paleontologists from the University of Witwatersrand and GENUS, a South Africa-based non-profit that promotes cross-discipline collaboration in the paleosciences that is accessible to all.

Citizen Science Month April

What is citizen science?

According to the US National Park Service, “Citizen science is when the public voluntarily helps conduct scientific research. Citizen scientists may design experiments, collect data, analyze results, and solve problems...Citizen scientists collect data with tools provided by project directors. These data help professional scientists…answer scientific questions and solve important problems. And the activity helps participants build meaningful connections to science.

How citizen science benefits researchers

Citizen science trips and activities, such as these from Ancient Odysseys and GENUS benefit paleontology through both funding and fossil collection. By offering a fee-based itinerary that is open to travelers, all the researcher's costs are covered. Citizen scientists also provide researchers with additional assistance during the excavation itself and, of course, bragging rights for participants. On these South Africa trips in particular, a portion of all fees goes toward the GENUS Paleosciences We Dig Fossils Grant that funds black women in South Africa in the field of palaeosciences. 

2024 Fossil Dig Itineraries offered by GENUS and Ancient Odysseys

This itinerary is an unparalleled opportunity to work alongside esteemed researchers at sites where new hominid species have been discovered. The Cradle of Humankind is a UNESCO World Heritage site that is home to 40% of the world's human ancestor fossils. The itinerary includes nine full days of hands-on work in the Cradle of Humankind landscape. Jose Braga at Kromdraai Cave, will lead excavation work at this site known for early human and paranthrope fossils. The trip will then join Dominic Stratford at the world famous Sterkfontein Caves. It is here that the remains of the iconic paleoantrhopus robustus early hominids called Mrs. Ples and Little Foot, were discovered.


Citizen scientists in 2024 can find detailed information and booking links for the Cradle of Humankind Human Ancestors Dig here.

This itinerary takes citizen scientists to the fossil wonderland of The Karoo. It is here that the fossils of some of Earth’s earliest life forms can be found. Join researcher Julien Benoit in the search for therapsids, the evolutionary link between reptiles and mammals. Jump back 400 million years in time to work with Rob Gess at a site teeming with Devonian life forms and earth’s earliest four-legged creatures. The trip also joins up with paleontological royalty, Bruce Rubidge, arguably the world’s most knowledgeable resource on prehistoric life in the Karoo who will lead the trip to other well-known fossil sites in the Karoo.


Citizen scientists in 2024 can find detailed information and booking links for the Time Rewind Fossil Finding Odyssey here.  

Citizen Science dinosaur digs require no previous experience

Citizen science projects—no experience necessary

According to Marisa Rodriguez, founder of Ancient Odysseys, citizen science is accessible to anyone who wants to contribute to science. “The beauty of citizen science is that no previous experience is required,” she says. “This holds true for all the paleontology and archaeology digs featured on Ancient Odysseys.” She explains that due to the hands-on nature of research-based excavations, “Joining a paleontology or archaeology dig is like citizen science on steroids. After all, there aren’t many other citizen science projects where people can help unearth ancient lifeforms or artifacts that haven’t seen the light of day for thousands or even millions of years.”   


Other citizen science digs and custom fossil digs also offers fossil digs in Australia, dinosaur digs in the US and archaeology digs in Ireland, with an ever-expanding roster of paleontology and archaeology dig vacations for clients around the world. On these two South Africa itineraries and many others, custom dig dates and itineraries are available upon request.


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