October 24, 2017

Preservation Thursday: Dinosaurs of the Hell Creek Formation: The End of the Age of Dinosaurs

DEADWOOD – Deadwood History, Inc. and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission will host a lecture by paleontologist, fossil collector, and Black Hills Institute president, Peter Larson, at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 2, 2017, at the Homestake Adams Research and Cultural Center (HARCC), 150 Sherman Street, Deadwood. The event is wheelchair accessible. Please feel free to bring your lunch.

It has long been assumed by paleontologists that dinosaur diversity had declined long before they became extinct. After 100 years of digging in the Hell Creek Formation, it becomes increasingly obvious that dinosaur diversity had not diminished in the eons approaching the asteroid impact. In fact, for some families, the number of species may have reached all time highs 66 million years ago.

Peter Larson is a graduate of the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology with a Bachelor’s Degree in geology, and is currently a candidate for a Ph.D. in vertebrate paleontology at the University of Manchester, in Manchester, England. Peter has forty-plus years of experience as a professional paleontologist. He is founder and president of the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, Inc.

As a field collector and fossil preparator, he and the staff of Black Hills Institute have developed important new fossil collecting and preparation techniques. They have created probably the most successful private, for-profit fossil preparatory and earth science supply house in the world. Institute staff members have also developed many innovative techniques and materials for producing the highest quality cast replicas of fossil material, including full dinosaur skeletons, that are available today. These reproductions capture the minute detail of the original fossil material so completely they are actually used in scientific research.

Peter and the institute could legitimately be called “T. rex Are Us!” Since 1990, when institute staff excavated their first Tyrannosaurus rex named SUE, still the largest and most complete T. rex skeleton ever collected, they excavated the remains of nine more significant T. rex skeletons. The second rex skeleton, called STAN, collected by the institute, is prepared, mounted and on permanent exhibit in the museum at the Black Hills Institute in Hill City, South Dakota. In the fall of 2013, Larson and the institute excavated their tenth Tyrannosaurus rex. The institute has also collected, prepared, and mounted many other dinosaur skeletons, including the two most complete Triceratops found to date.

In addition to the skeletons excavated by institute personnel, Larson has seen, measured, and studied most of the known T. rex material collected by other individuals and institutions. A comprehensive review of his T. rex research is available in the book, “Rex Appeal,” co-authored with Ms. Kristin Donnan. They also co-authored “Bones Rock,” a book about how to become a paleontologist, and Peter was co-editor with Dr. Kenneth Carpenter of “Tyrannosaurus rex, the Tyrant King.”

Larson has collected and prepared fossil material in and from North and South America, Europe, and Asia. In addition, Peter has written numerous scientific, popular, and educational articles on paleontology, geology, and mineralogy. The general public and the scientific community, when researching theropod dinosaurs, consider his articles, scientific research, and professional papers on Tyrannosaurus rex must reading.

Preservation Thursday is co-sponsored by the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission, Deadwood History, Adams-Mastrovich Family Foundation, Saloon No. 10, Fresh Paint, Historic Homestake Opera House, Celebrity Hotel, Jerry Greer's Engineering, and tdg Marketing & Public Relations.

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Photograph available upon request.

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