Updated May, 2012
Students at Montana State University and other Montana colleges will be in China for four weeks this summer to search for, and study, dinosaur eggs. Follow them on their journey to Zhejiang Province in southeastern China as they work with the Zhejiang Natural History Museum in Hangzhou to examine hundreds, if not thousands, of eggs the museum has collected. The students will also spend time in the field, doing follow-up work to a December expedition when Montana State University paleontologists excavated four clutches of dinosaur eggs and found at least four more clutches they may excavate in the future.
The December expedition was funded by National Geographic. The project that has been sending Montana college students to China since 2010 is funded by the National Science Foundation and supervised by MSU paleontologists David Varricchio and Frankie Jackson.
The eggs the students are studying, which were possibly laid by a carnivorous dinosaur, pose a puzzle due to their unusually thick, but porous shells, according to the researchers.
“There are no comparable eggs today — reptile or bird,” Jackson said.
The students will also conduct field research in the Tiantai region of Zhejiang, where a majority of the eggs were recovered. During their trip, they will also get to explore Hangzhou, a 1,000-year-old city of more than 4 million people.
Varricchio will lead this year’s team to China. MSU undergraduates on the team are Daniel Barta of Helena, Paul Germano of Memphis, Tenn., Christian Heck of Monroe, Mich., and Hannah Wilson of Kalispell. Anita Moore-Nall of Bozeman is an MSU graduate student.
Team members from other Montana schools are Michael Bustamante of Browning, a student at the Kutoyis Archaeological Project Tribal Field School; Robert Rader of Kalispell at The University of Montana; Heather Davis of Alaska at UM, and Ian Underwood of San Rafael, Calif., Montana Tech.
Heck will lead the group in keeping a Web journal about this year’s journey. An MSU senior in cell biology and neuroscience, he hopes to study dinosaur histology. He has volunteered two summers for the Museum of the Rockies digging in the Hell Creek Formation of Montana.