Carthage Paleontology Program Continues Hunt for Fossils and Funding

Mar. 28, 2024 8:30p

(WGTD)---Carthage College’s paleontology program is starting to prepare for what is hoped to be a particularly fruitful dig this summer amid great uncertainty over the program’s future.

Program director Thomas Carr says grant money that’s been funding a lab and field technician position is running out. The school won’t know until later this year whether an application for alternate funding is successful.

Speaking on a recent edition of WGTD’s Morning Show, Carr said the technician, or preparator, as he calls the position, is needed to process field work discoveries, help students, and also staff the college’s lab that’s located inside Kenosha’s Dinosaur Discovery Museum. "This is a 2-person program," Carr said. "I can't be in the museum and on campus simultaneously. Dr. (Megan) Seitz' expertise is required for the lab. I don't have her expertise and we collaborate in the field program." Seitz has been with the program since it was founded in 2011. 

The program has a national reputation and is driven by an intense interest in the subject matter, Carr said. "Dinosaurs have always captured the imagination of adults and children alike...a kind of a cultural drumbeat since the 1800's." 

Carthage's program has 10 students this year, and it appears there's a real possibility that enrollment could swell to 17 this fall. Last year 14 students were enrolled. Most of the program's graduates go on to graduate school in preparation for securing jobs in museums and in other institutions. 

This summer Carr and his students plan to return to a site on public lands in Montana where in 2022 a student unearthed bones and fossils of a juvenile Tyrannosaurus Rex. The hope is the renewed search will locate additional remnants. Carr says there are just a handful of quality juvenile T-Rex specimens.

While the search for fossils and bones will continue, so does the hunt for money. On the latter point, the ideal find would be someone who cares deeply enough about the Institute’s work to create an endowment to permanently fund the preparator position.