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One of the many projects included the collection of dinosaur specimens to test hypotheses focused on their relative abundance and the presence or absence of various dinosaurian ontogenetic stages. These dinosaurs and all associated fossils collected were deposited in the Museum of the Rockies and the UC Museum of Paleontology where they are conserved in perpetuity for the public trust. Data associated with this irreplaceable record of "life through time" and our fossil heritage are also managed and made available to qualified researchers and the public. Scientists use this information from the fossil record and sediments to investigate climate change through time, plant and animal diversity, and origination and extinction rates.
Previous Hell Creek Formation surveys attempted to statistically support particular extinction hypotheses, but offered minimal information on the actual composition of the stratigraphically dispersed assemblages through the entire section of the Hell Creek Formation. Some focused on taphonomy only, while others examined the structure of the dinosaur assemblage without regard to sedimentology and stratigraphy. Horner and Goodwin considered it essential that all temporal and spatial points of reference be considered synthetically when analyzing taxa from the fossil record a type of unified field theory for paleontological specimens. Horner and Goodwin, assisted by the numerous field crews of students, volunteers, and paleontologists, incorporated multiple lines of evidence from geography, taphonomy, stratigraphy, phylogeny, and ontogeny to determine the relative abundance of large dinosaur skeletons preserved in the entire Upper Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation not just the upper portion of the formation where earlier attempts to produce a dinosaur census concentrated in northeastern Montana.
In the collections
Learn more about the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge.
A list of references will be forthcoming.
Photos of Hell Creek Formation, Mark Goodwin collecting a Triceratops skull, Hell Creek Project participants, and block containing a disarticulated Triceratops skull by, or courtesy of, Mark Goodwin; Bill Clemens looking for microfossils photo by Greg Wilson; Meniscoessus photo by Pat Holroyd; Trionyxphoto in the UCMP Archives.
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