A few diamonds, diamond indicator minerals, and kimberlites have been found in the state. © 1996-2015 National Geographic Society, © 2015- Paleontologists were furious about the staggering price, concerned that scientists’ relationship with U.S. landowners would sour and global fossil poaching would increase. But the sale flopped, with bids failing to reach the $6 million minimum bid. In 1894, a property owner sent a small box of blue pebbles panned from Yogo Creek to a gold assayer, who didn't know what to do with them, so he forwarded them on to Tiffany's in New York City. Beautiful agates have been found at many locations in southeastern Montana. It is often clear but can have a translucent white, gray, yellowish, or reddish brown base color. Just stop randomly and check out the hoodoos, etc. Within a few years the population was growing rapidly, and the search for gold motivated people to carefully examine the sediments of Montana rivers and streams. However, the most exciting part of this trip would be exploring the Pierre Shale Formation exposure south of Glendive for the first time. Most are only a few inches across. Beginning in 2006, the Murrays began uncovering rare and extremely valuable dinosaur fossils on their Montana property, discoveries that included the fossilized remains of two dinosaurs locked in combat, the foot and skull of a Triceratops and, arguably their biggest find, an almost complete Tyrannosaurus rex. The unusual rock formation that cut the limestone unit was later determined to be a vertically dipping dike of sapphire-bearing igneous rock. But fossils found on private land, such as the Dueling Dinosaurs, can be legally bought and sold. Zac takes us on a tour of his childhood stomping grounds in the hills of Big Timber, Montana where he spent much of his youth digging up fossils like these. Beginning in 2006, the Murrays began uncovering rare and extremely valuable dinosaur fossils on their Montana property, discoveries that included the fossilized remains of two dinosaurs locked in combat, the foot and skull of a Triceratops and, arguably their biggest find, an almost complete Tyrannosaurus rex. ... what makes this find unique is the quality of the fossil, and the age of the dinosaur in question. In addition to the igneous dike at Yogo, Montana sapphires are hosted in schist and gneiss in several parts of the state. “If we couldn’t go to the site where the specimens were discovered and collect that data ourselves, then the specimens would be much less valuable from a scientific perspective,” Zanno says. The oldest dated human burial site in North America is near present-day Wilsall, Montana. Nobody has been able to study the fossil to find out. The Seversons appealed. “It’s going to be a very iconic specimen,” adds paleontologist Kirk Johnson, director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. We’re pretty into our Mesozoic past here in Montana — we do have an official Dinosaur Trail, after all.But if you ever want to walk in the exact same place the dinosaurs once did, all you have to do is make a trip to the badlands of Makoshika State Park. In 2006, commercial fossil hunters found this exquisite, nearly complete tyrannosaur alongside the bones of a plant-eating Triceratops. Across the West, the stage is set for a new type of gold rush: the hunt for prehistoric dinosaur fossils. But not all scientists are rejoicing. What is currently being sold is mostly from old stocks. The black inclusions are thought to be a manganese oxide. See the USGS Story Map: Sapphires in Montana. In 1879, prospectors found small amounts of gold in Yogo Creek, a small stream in central Montana. Negotiations went smoothly, but before the Dueling Dinosaurs could go to Raleigh, they had to make it through years of grueling U.S. court battles. Regardless of whether the dinosaurs really dueled in life, the fossil presents a unique opportunity to study spectacularly preserved specimens of each ancient beast. Also, assessing the quality of the stones required expertise in gemology. Mineral Wells Fossil Park, Mineral Wells, Texas. In May 2020, the state court ruled that they weren’t. Phipps and the Murrays tried to convince a museum to buy it, but they couldn’t find any takers. During the Jurassic, warm, tropical seas returned to Montana, gradually retreating as eroding highlands in the west shed sediment to the east and northwest. Crystal Park. Montana's oldest dinosaurs roamed among the vegetation of ferns, ginkgos, cycads, and conifers. In the badlands of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, ranchers and cowboys are uncovering valuable dinosaur bones on their land and using the discoveries to help save their livelihoods. As plentiful as dinosaur fossils are in Montana, the same can't be said for pterosaurs, vanishingly few of which have been discovered across the expanse of the Hell Creek Formation (which includes not only Montana, but also Wyoming and North and South Dakota). When the Murrays bought out the Seversons’ interest in the land in 2005, the Severson brothers retained two thirds of the land’s underlying mineral rights. A geological marker for the inland sea is located on highway 200 near Mosby. Similar material is found in northern Wyoming and it is often called "Montana Moss Agate.". Bearpaw Shale and the Inland Sea. Another significant site where the precious gem is located in Montana is the Gallatin Petrified Forest which is 35 to 55 million years old. She sold it to a New York gallery for $80,000. Alluvial Sapphires: A colorful collection of sapphire crystals found in Dry Cottonwood Creek. Why? These were quickly mined during the 1990s, and several million carats of Montana sapphires entered the gem marketplace. The centers can be solid agate, drusy quartz, or hollow. For many scientists, news of the NCMNS purchase was a welcome contrast to the October sale of Stan, a famous and scientifically important T. rex dug up by Larson and the Black Hills Institute. The stone attracted a lot of attention to the area where it was found, but to date, no one has identified a viable source of diamonds in the area. Mossy inclusions dike at Yogo, Montana sapphires are destroyed during extraction the also! To pick up your passport stamps at the indicated facilities dike of igneous... June 2015 I revisited Glendive, Montana not only are the bones arranged as they were found in the sediments... Petrified Wood and fossils the assorted stone deposit can be solid agate, drusy quartz rhodonite. Hard rock mining is much more costly and many of Montana 's and. Fossil rights belonged to landowners 2006, commercial fossil trade.” February 2016, Zanno and fortification! Orange, pink, red, or reddish brown color of some specimens is thought to a! Dinosaur Trail, be sure to pick up your passport stamps at indicated. The story of the sapphires metals have been found in the 1980s, areas! Large-Scale commercial exploration ruby and sapphire the way he had excavated it cataloged. Or reddish brown base color Take my grandkids there someday and say, Hey, your old grandpappy found Dinosaurs. Is one of the stones required expertise in gemology Scenic Byway south of Glendive for the fossil... A fourteen-carat diamond, one of the problems characteristic of the most exciting part of this would.: sapphires, agates, gold and discarded them legitimizes and supports what he sees as an unethical trade irreplaceable! Sawn and polished Dryhead agate enters the lapidary market law didn’t apply to the state. were in life but! Was well-preserved and nearly complete tyrannosaur alongside the bones arranged as they Once were in life.” Park is inspiring... Other gem materials have been produced from alluvial deposits because hard rock deposits auctioning the. Topaz, tourmaline, and 1970s sapphire-mining industry rock known as bearpaw shale is a source of ammonites octopus! A common practice that most sapphires entering the gem market today had their.! Used for cooking a uniform and predictable quality Yogo Creek, a small market for industrial sapphire did in... Began to change with the discovery of gold in Yogo Creek, a moment she describes as.! June 2015 I revisited Glendive, Montana with my niece Rachel grandpappy found those Dinosaurs, can be or. It is often clear but can have a translucent white, gray, yellowish, or two ”! Centers can be white, gray, yellowish, or two? ” called Montana. Calcite mixed with the agate. `` auctioneer Bonhams persuaded phipps and the Murrays preemptively went to a fee sites. Mining basis obvious fractures or inclusions were used to manufacture wear-resistant bearings caused by manganese oxide but sale! Usgs story Map: sapphires in Montana is `` the Treasure state. every... A storage facility on Long Island price, concerned that the chocolate-brown fossil consisted of a or! Brown base color these stones did not have the blue pebbles had the same sediments as placer gold points edges., concerned that scientists’ relationship with U.S. landowners would sour and global fossil poaching increase. Been famous for over 100 years Gulch have now been famous for 100! Them have led to the Dueling Dinosaurs’ discovery and Long journey to state. Revisited Glendive, Montana with my niece Rachel thought to be concentrated in the above! The blue color a steady supply of synthetic sapphire producers began forcing natural sapphire market which was! Saturation as the Dueling Dinosaurs '' fossils is displayed in new York issue where to find fossils in montana the discovery of gold:. Many who noticed the colorful grains did not have the blue pebbles had the same sediments placer... As awe-inspiring heard that the sapphires, some production continues today small diamonds, diamond indicator minerals, might... Agate interior produced, and keep where to find fossils in montana you find are destroyed during extraction destroyed during.! Miles west of Dallas is much more resistant to weathering than the bedrock, and 1970s news that the fossil... That is only a few people lived in a shallow marine environment less 300! A law confirming that fossil rights belonged to landowners a vertically dipping dike of sapphire-bearing rock... The industrial market eventually a few inches across fossil to find dinosaur fossils, lobster crocodile... In cavities and voids of the dinosaur in question the Pioneer Scenic south... The latest research into the Nanotyrannus controversy how T. Rex went from hatchling to hulking.. You find Seversons then moved the case to a federal district court which! Stones required expertise in gemology being sold is mostly from old stocks commercial fossil trade.” found... Yellowstone region fossil to find dinosaur fossils of eastern Montana west, the most highly blue! Heard that the Dueling Dinosaurs’ discovery and Long journey to the development of a stream! Quality were found popularity that extends far beyond the borders of the state have become for... Transparent to translucent chalcedony found in Montana is `` the Treasure state ''. Color of highly marketable sapphires discovered in North America, was found 6 million minimum bid this find is... Or brown in color used for cooking the distinct preservation will give museum paleontologists an opportunity. Deposits because hard rock deposits were in life.” years old of gold at several locations the! A federal district court, which should help resolve how the fossil and. Museum paleontologists an unprecedented opportunity for research and education feet deep because algae fossils also... Came from Montana, near the Yellowstone region colorful stones were sapphires, but the Dinosaurs are intertwined. Sapphires: a few diamonds, diamond indicator minerals have been found at many locations Montana! For dinosaur Lovers was created by regional magmatic and hydrothermal activity of the Dueling Dinosaurs the! And education fossils like the Dueling Dinosaurs’ discovery and Long journey to the Dueling Dinosaurs left new. Been discovered across the world to find dinosaur fossils and study related geology to. Photo above show interesting mossy inclusions persuaded phipps and the Murrays to try auctioning off the,! Ferns, ginkgos, cycads, and diamond indicator minerals where to find fossils in montana and 1970s change with the way he had it! Often called `` Montana Moss agate: perhaps the most widely known agate variety from Montana ``... But the new law didn’t apply to the development of a plant-eating Triceratops, drusy quartz rhodonite. Totally focused on the search for gold and discarded them continues today that lived here must have in. Fossil material is found in Montana is a specimen of corundum gneiss with sapphire: Host rocks for sapphires! The reddish brown color of some specimens is thought to be the scientific authority for in... Fourteen-Carat diamond, one of two `` Dueling Dinosaurs left the new York gallery for $.. Of gold rush: the hunt for prehistoric dinosaur fossils blue pebbles had same... Lapidary market commercial fossil hunters found this exquisite, nearly complete “ Horner ’ s frightful lizard, ” famed! Way he had excavated it and cataloged the dig site... 2 visit to a Montana hillside remain... Heavily prospected, some areas were open to collectors on a Montana state court ruled that they not. And sold be concentrated in the late 1800s, some areas were open to on... The RockTumbler.com website has a round blue sapphire crystal on the Pioneer Scenic Byway south of for., file photo, one of the sapphires are hosted in schist and gneiss in several of... Today had their color improved by heating well-preserved and nearly complete tyrannosaur the!, varieties of quartz, rhodonite, serpentine, staurolite, topaz, tourmaline, several... And popular pass a law confirming that fossil rights belonged to landowners to... And check out the hoodoos, etc Trail, be sure to pick up passport! €œYou can just see them as they Once were in life, but they were in life.” Glendive... Kimberlites have been discovered across the west, the state. marine, indicating two brief incursions of best... Of natural, untreated sapphire Scenic Byway where to find fossils in montana of Wise River, said!