If you’re travelling to Wyoming and like dinosaurs, consider stopping at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center (WDC) in Thermopolis. In 1993, dinosaur fossils were discovered near here at the Warm Springs Ranch. Fossils discovered here and elsewhere are on display at WDC. Visitors will see fifty-eight articulated dinosaur skeletons and a wide variety of fossils.
You’ll see dinosaur skeletons large and small in the display hall. Some are real, others are recreated from casts of fossils.
Remember the Velociraptors in “Jurassic Park?” Here’s one, blending into the background.
I especially liked this one because it shows a Tyrannosaurus dinosaur attacking a Stegosaurus.
Here’s another view from a different angle.
WDC’s most well-known fossil is of an Archaeopteryx, a feathered dinosaur, excavated in Germany. Their scientific name means “ancient wing.” Of twelve specimens located in the world, the ones in London, Berlin, and Thermopolis are the most complete.
WDC’s largest replica dinosaur is “Jimbo”, a Supersaurus. The fossilized remains of this 106-foot-long dinosaur, found in Douglas, Wyoming, represent the world’s longest dinosaur. Excavation is ongoing.
In the picture below I attempted to photograph Jimbo, but only got part of him. You can see the long dark-colored neck stretching over the skeletons below.
165 million years ago, the shallow Sundance Sea covered this area. The Morrison Formation, formed 150 years ago, covered the Sundance Formation. Within these layers, an enormous number of dinosaur fossils accumulated. In the past 24 years, the WDC has established 130 dig sites.
There is an active dig site near the Center and specimens, covered in layers of sandstone, are brought to a lab. They encase some in plaster-covered strips of burlap to protect them.
You can see a view of the preparation lab below. Here, preparators split and chip rocks to expose the fossils. This slow process requires a lot of patience. They make molds and casts of fossils after cleaning.
Plants, invertebrates, & fish fossils
They have great displays of fossils here. I went a little snap happy taking pictures, but I’ll limit what I show in this post.
I always liked Ichthyosaurs when I was a kid. Maybe it’s because I like to swim.
I liked Pterosaurs even more. The fossils are so delicate looking.
This small one looks like it would have made a good pet. Uh… with those teeth, maybe not!
Wyoming Dinosaur Center programs
If you’d like to uncover fossils next to researchers working in the field, you can pay an additional fee. A guide drives you to Warm Springs Ranch, where over 15,000 specimens have been found. The Dig for a Day program is available from late May to early September, weather permitting.
There are also several programs available for kids. These include Kids’ Dig, Shovel Ready, and Dinosaur Academy. See the Programs page for more information on these and additional programs for adults.
Wyoming Dinosaur Center Store
Near the entrance, there’s a nice store, well stocked with dinosaur-themed toys, apparel, etc. There are lots of souvenirs for dinosaur-loving kids here. We took our kids here when they were younger, and it was one of their favorite stops.
If you’re looking for a dinosaur-centered experience while traveling, visit the Wyoming Dinosaur Center!
It just may bring a big smile to your face like the one pictured below.