What to Know
4 Active & Exciting Field Research Projects: Manson Impact Paleoecology; Ice Age Biodiversity Project; Odanah Research Initiative; Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin Atlas 2027 Project.
Dig seasons take place from June - September along the Manitoba Escarpment.
Limited space is available so book early!
Digs available on a week basis (7 day dig) or select days (1 day dig).
Digs run from 9am-4pm
Minimum age requirement is 12.
Our digs are not tours, participants are expected to assist an actual paleontological research dig. Moving overburden, using rock hammers and exposing new parts of the skeleton.
What to Expect
Each dig site is accessible by foot. Walking or hiking to the site is kept to a minimum, but there are some steep inclines on the hillsides and you may need to catch your breath. Some participants may want to bring walking poles. The weather in southern Manitoba from July - September ranges from 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit) to -1 degrees Celsius (30 Fahrenheit). In extreme weather conditions our field station is available for indoor fossil work.
Included in a Week Dig: meals, campground fee, tools & supplies to excavate, one on one instruction from a paleontologist and a variety of evening activities.
Included in a Day Dig: lunch, tools & supplies to excavate and one on one instruction from a paleontologist.
What to Bring
For WEEK DIGS, all lodging requirements for camping are to be supplied by the participants. This includes tent/camper/RV, lawn chairs, bedding, toiletries and clothing. All cooking/eating utensils are provided.
For ALL DIGS, each participant should bring
personal water bottle
mat or cushion to sit or kneel on if the ground is not preferred
walking poles (if you require assistance on steep inclines)
backpack or bag to carry these personal items
wear suitable clothing for the current weather conditions
good pair of runners or hiking books NO SANDALS ALLOWED
change of socks and runners/hiking boots (in the event of crossing creeks)
Photograph by Shaun Low
Arrival & Departure
Participants will arrive 30 minutes prior to the program starting at the field station to register and pack up field supplies for the dig. From the field station participants will follow staff and drive their own vehicle to the dig site approximately 15 minutes away. Travel is on shale/gravel roads off of a provincial highway. Participants will depart directly from the dig site and those taking part in week digs will head back to the field station for their accommodations to unwind and discuss the exciting day of fossil hunting.
All fossils found at the site must remain at the site. Heritage permits are acquired by Pembina Paleontology to search and excavate for fossils. Fossil ownership is retained by the Province of Manitoba.
Ammenities and Accommodations
The fossil dig sites are remote and within a rural setting. There are no gas stations or stores near the dig site. Participants may wish to fill up and acquire food or beverages in Morden, Manitou or Killarney, Manitoba or Langdon, North Dakota.
Accommodations for the week digs are campsite based at the Manitou Campground, where the field station is set up. The town of Manitou has T T's Return restaurant and bar if participants wish to venture around the town after dinner.
Local attractions, such as Hy-wire Zip Lines, Binney Nature Preserve, Pembina Valley Provincial Park and many museums can be found in the area if participants wish to stay an extra day or two.
What kind of fossils can I find?
The fossils we search for and collect are from the Late Cretaceous (~ 80 million years ago). Manitoba was under a sea at this time, as a result the fossils we find are mostly marine and include plesiosaurs, mosasaurs, fish and shark. Rare fossil finds include squid, turtles and birds.
Will I be digging at a real site?
Absolutely! You will be taken to one of the primary research sites for Pembina Paleontology, excavating under the direction of one of it's paleontologists.
What is the cancellation policy?
A 25% non-refundable deposit is required to book a fossil dig. Participants can cancel within 2 weeks of the fossil dig start date. Payment of fossil digs is due by the first day of the program.
Can I keep the fossils I find?
No. The fossils within the province of Manitoba are under the ownership of the province pursuent to the Manitoba Heritage Act 1987.
How old do I have to be to go on a fossil dig?
Participants must be 12 years of age or older. Due to the landscape, the research sensitivity of the fossil sites, the ability to remain outdoors and stay focused, this is the minimum age requirement.
How far in advance do I have to book a fossil dig?
Booking is based on a first come first serve basis and as long as there is space available you can book at any time.