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2015 Tate Conference

Hoof it on over to the Tate for Tate 2015:

"Artiodactyls, Perissodactyls and Whales"

June 5 - 7, 2015

Information and registration: Click on the gray "Activities" tab above, then click on the "Annual Summer Conference" heading.

Join us for a Tate Museum dinosaur dig in 2015!

We are planning three weeks of summer dinosaur digs for 2015

  • June 22 - 26: Lance Formation, north of Lusk, WY.
  • Aug. 24 - 28: Morrison Formation, outside of Medicine Bow, WY.
  • Sept. 14 - 18: Morrison Formation, outside of Medicine Bow, WY.

For more info: Click on the gray "Activities" tab above, click on the "Tate Summer Digs" heading.

Melre dig site hadrosaur toe bone

Click to view the latest CC Podcast! Click to view! Click to view!


The book sells for $21 in our gift shop.
If you can't visit our gift shop, give us a call
or visit this site if you'd like to order one.

"Dee and the Mammoth"

by Gene Gagliano, illustrated by Zak Pullen.

The book is here! Available now at the Tate Museum and other fine Wyoming retailers.

"Dee and the Mammoth" is a children's book written by Gene Gagliano of Buffalo, WY, and illustrated by Zak Pullen of Casper. It is inspired by the discovery of Dee the Mammoth, but in this story, Dee is a little girl who tells a story about a mammoth through letters from her dad who is working on a mammoth dig. The book also includes a DVD which features an audio version of the book, and a doumentary film about the Tate Museum's Dee the Mammoth.
  • Wind City Books, 152 S. Center St., Casper, WY 82601, 307-315-6003
  • Campbell County Rockpile Museum, 900 W. Second St., Gillette, WY, 82716-3405, 307-682-5723
  • Ft. Caspar Museum, 4001 Ft. Caspar Rd., Casper, WY, 82604,  307-235-8462
  • Nicolaysen Art Museum, 400 E. Collins Dr., Casper, WY, 82601, 307-235-5247
  • Dinosaur Journey, 550 Jurassic Ct., Fruita, CO 970-434-9814
  • Washakie Museum, 2200 Big Horn Ave., Worland, WY 307-347-4102

Wholesale orders can be made by visiting this site and downloading the form, then sending it to the Tate Museum at the address on the form. We also have five of Zak's original paintings for the book on display in the museum for a little while. Come in and see them. They are fantastic.

History of the Museum

The Tate Geological Museum was founded in 1980 through a gift from Marion and Inez Tate. It was originally designated as the Tate Earth Science Center and Mineralogical Museum. Because ‘geological' encompasses earth science, mineralogy and paleontology, the name was changed to the Tate Geological Museum in 2001.

Located on the Casper College campus, the museum is a great resource to the community. Many local schools and groups come to the museum to add to their students learning experience.

One of a minute number of geology and paleontology museums in Wyoming, the Tate houses a collection of over 3000 fossil and mineral specimens. Museum staff are always on hand to answer questions, help identify items visitors bring in, and make your visit to the museum an enjoyable experience. The Tate is certainly a great addition to anyone's list of 'must see sites' when traveling through Wyoming.

Museum Staff

patti portrait

Patti Wood Finkle Patti digging up some anonymous dino bone
Director of Museums

| Weblink |
(307) 268-3026
(800) 442-2963 ext. 2447

Patti graduated from Texas Tech University in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Museum Science, with a focus on exhibits and collections. Her undergraduate degree in Anthropology is from Texas A&M University where she focused on the curation of archaeological collections. Patti has helped the museum update old exhibits and install new ones, most notably the Pleistocene exhibit, featuring Dee the Mammoth. In addition to her Tate Museum duties, Patti also works in conjunction with the Werner Wildlife Museum, also located on campus. 


Russell Hawley
Education Specialist

| Weblink |
(307) 268-2447
(800) 442-2963 ext. 2447

Russell graduated from the University of Colorado in 1991 with a degree in fine art. His artwork has appeared in the America's Smithsonian anniversary traveling exhibition, in "Islands in the Cosmos: The Evolution of Life on Land" by Dr. Dale A. Russell, in "Oceans of Kansas" by Michael Everhart, and several issues of Prehistoric Times magazine. Aside from being the Tate Geological Museum's Educational Specialist, Russels also gives tours, writes articles for the museum newsletter, and produces illustrations for the museum displays.



J.P. Cavigelli JP
Field/Prep Coordinator

| Weblink |
(307) 268-3008
(800) 442-2963 ext. 3008

J.P. is the Field Operations Specialist, Collections Manager and Prep Lab Manager for the museum. JP came to Casper in 2004 from Laramie. Before coming to the Tate, he worked on and off in paleontology for 14 years, doing field work as well as a two year post as the collections manager for the University of Wyoming Department of Geology and Geophysics. He has had the good fortune of having been invited to join international paleontological expeditions to Mongolia, Niger (twice), Tanzania (twice) and North Dakota. In his spare time JP collects fossils, watches birds and plays hockey.



SundellDr. Kent Sundell
Tate Geological Museum Curator

Geology Instructor
| Weblink |
(307) 268-2498
(800) 442-2963 ext. 2498

Geology allows Dr. Sundell to be outdoors and apply a broad knowledge of science (chemistry, physics, biology, math) towards a better understanding of our Earth. From the historical and esoteric (paleontology, plate tectonics, paleomagnetism, climate change) to the practical application of finding a high paying job (oil, gas, and mineral exploration, geophysics, geochemistry, geohydrology, environmental geology), geology makes life fun and mentally stimulating.


Melissa Connely
Tate Geological Museum Curator

Natural Science Instructor
| Weblink |

Melissa has been a student of Earth Science all her life.  She joined the Tate Geological Museum crew in 1992 as a volunteer while going to school full time.  She has worked her way up from being a volunteer, lab manager, geology instructor, and Director to Curator.  Melissa loves to discover new things and promotes an appreciation for the natural world.  She has a Master’s Degree in Geology with an emphasis in stratigraphy and paleoecology.  She has worked in the field for 16 years with various institutions.  Although she has a special fondness for sauropods, she delights in the study of any rock or fossil and shares that enthusiasm with her students and colleagues. 

Volunteering at the Museum

ThumbnailVolunteers often represent a large portion of any museums work force. Here at the Tate Geological Museum, we offer a variety of activities for those that are interested in taking part.

Many of our current volunteers assist with display construction, helping out in the gift shop, giving tours, and also working in the fossil preparation lab--just to name a few. Come on up and see if the Tate might be the place for you.

Museum Membership

All members to the Tate Museum receive the bi-monthly Tate Museum newsletter, Tate Museum Geological Times, and a membership gift card that is good for a 10% discount at the museum gift shop during their membership.

Members may sign-up on an individual or business basis

Schedule of Events


The Tate Museum presents our Spring Lecture Series. Once a month for the next four months will present a talk about caves.

Kent Sundell: February 17th, 7pm at the Tate
Caves of Wyoming: Formation, Utilization and Preservation.
This talk will describe the processes by which most Wyoming caves have been formed, how they are being used today, and how can we continue to use them in the future without damaging their fragile environment.

Mark Jenkins, National Geographic: March 24th, 7pm in the Music BUilding, co-presented as a UW World to Wyoming Lecture Series
Vietnam Underground: Exploring the Biggest Cave on Earth

Julie Meachem, Des Moines University: April 28th, 7pm in Nichols Auditorium
Natural Trap Cave in Wyoming

Bob Montgomery: May 12th 7 pm at the Tate
Cave Surveying and Mapping



Tate 2015 Logo


Hoof it on over to the Tate for Tate 2015:

"Artiodactyls, Perissodactyls and Whales"

June 5 - 7, 2015

Information and registration is available by clicking on the gray 'Activities' tab above, then clicking on the 'Annual Summer Conference' heading.

Tate Museum Dinosaur Digs 2015

We are planning three weeks of summer dinosaur digs for 2015

June 22 through 26... Lance Formation, north of Lusk, WY.

August 24 through 28... Morrison Formation, outside medicine Bow, WY.

Sept 14 through 18... Morrison Formation, outside medicine Bow, WY.

For more info, please click on the gray "Activities" tab above then scroll down and click on the gray
"Tate Summer Digs" tab.


Coffee, Tea and Dee will be held at the Tate during the 2014-15 school year.

The public is invited to attend Coffee, Tea and Dee from 7:30 to 11:30 AM at the Tate Geological Museum at Casper College.

In addition to offering guests free delicious coffee and tea by P. Hawk Coffee Roaster, courtesy of the Tate, a special sale will held during the same time period in the gift shop. All members of the museum, as well as current Casper College students, will receive the discount in addition to the discount they already receive.

This is a great opportunity for people to come up and visit Dee the Mammoth and Lee Rex, enjoy a free cup of coffee or tea and save on some of the great items we have in the gift shop.

Here are the dates for 2014 and 2015:

September 17
October 15
November 12
December 10
January 21
February 18
March 11
April 15
May 6



Saturday Club

Saturday Club Advanced Schedule
Ages 8 years old and older
10:30 am until 11:30 a.m, usually on the first Saturday of the month at the Tate Geological Museum
Call the Tate Museum front desk (307-268-2447) to reserve a spot.

There is also a Saturday club for younger students, ages 5 to 7 years old. Same exact time, same date, same place.
We never know what Kerri's going to come up with, but it's always fun!


December 13, 2014: Ornamental Dinosaurs

In this free Saturday Club, which is open to the public and held in conjunction with our Holiday Open house, we make our own dinosaur ornaments to liven up the holiday season! Open House, and Ornament Workshop is form 10 AM to 4 PM.

Charge: Free

January 3, 2015: Geologic Time and the History of Life

In this session we show students how the principles of geology can be used to reconstruct the history of the earth, using examples from the Casper area. Afterwards students construct their own timelines, with dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals placed in their correct time periods.

Charge: Free

February 7, 2015: Rocks and Minerals

In this session we learn the intrinsic properties that are used to tell apart the different kinds of rocks and minerals, and start our own rock and mineral collections.

Charge: $5 per person, ages 8 years old and older

March 7, 2015: Planets

In this class we discuss the geology of the other planets, their past history and the possibility of extraterrestrial life. A brief introduction to the constellations is also provided so that students can see the planets for themselves in the night sky. We finish by designing our own hypothetical extraterrestrial life forms.

Charge: Free

April 4, 2015: Bronto-Bugs: Discovering Fossil Insects

Charge: Free

May 2, 2015: Volcanoes of our Solar System.

We learn how and why volcanoes form, and look at examples of the different kinds of volcanoes here on earth. Then we look at volcanic activity in the rest of the solar system, including the most volcanically active world (Jupiter’s moon Io) and the solar system’s biggest volcano (Olympus Mons on Mars.)

Charge: Free

Summer: No Saturday Club

September 5, 2015: Labor Day weekend – no Saturday Club.

October 3, 2015: Geology Field Trip

For this session, bring your outdoor clothes and hiking shoes, and join us for a mini-expedition to a real field locality. Hunt for genuine fossils and mineral specimens – keep whatever you find!

Charge: $5 per person, ages 8 years old and older




Open House

Tate Museum Holiday Open House

December 13, 2015

10 AM to 4 PM

Join us for face painting, the Shark Tooth Hunt (where you can find and keep your own fossil shark teeth and shells), ornament workshop, prep lab and Lee Rex tours. Kids, come and make a present to give to someone special at Christmas! We will have cookies, punch, hot apple cider and P. Hawks will be on hand with fresh brewed coffee and tea. Also, help support the Casper College Geology Club by buying a tasty treat at their annual bake sale. While you are here, don’t forget to have your picture taken with Santasaurus!

Parents don’t forget you can find some great Christmas presents in our gift shop while the kids are distracted. We have plenty of gifts for adults and the young at heart too!

10% off everything in gift shop. 20% off for members.




Tate Summer Digs

2015 Field Expeditions

Notice: All trips are full for 2015

Thanks for your interest in joining the Tate Geological Museum on a summer dinosaur dig. Below is all the info you will need to help you make decisions.

The goals of Tate Geological Museum paleontology field trips are to offer fun, educational experiences to the public while building up the museum’s collections for display and/or research. The popular summer dinosaur digs will again be available in the summer of 2014. Registration will be through the museum and CEU credit will be available upon request. The fee this year will be $825/person. This includes six nights of lodging, six dinners, five field lunches, four continental breakfasts at the hotel in Lusk, (breakfasts in Casper and Medicine Bow are not incuded), snacks and soft drinks/water, and all ground transportation from Casper. No experience needed. The Tate Museum provides all the tools and instruction you will need. The price includes a double occupancy room. If you want to room solo, we will charge an extra $100.00. A non-refundable deposit of $400 per person is required upon registration to hold your place. The balance of the fee is due no later than 60 days prior to the start of the dig.

The minimum age for participation is 16 (16 and 17-year-olds must be accompanied by an adult participant.)

We will be doing three dig weeks this summer, the first one on June 22-26, the second one August 24-28 and the third September 14-18. These dates are all Monday through Friday of the dig. Participants should be in Casper on the Sunday evening before so we can get started Monday morning. The hotel in Casper on Sunday and Friday nights is included in the cost. Fossils collected remain property of the Tate Museum, although participants are usually allowed to bring home a few samples of bone. Additionally, a Tate Museum volunteer photographer typically documents the dig and shares photos with participants.

The first dig will be at the Meadow Ranch in eastern Wyoming, digging in the late Cretaceous Lance Formation. We have been collecting on this ranch for nine years and still have a lot to do there. The exact plan is uncertain as of now. We will either work on a hadrosaur (Merle) or a triceratops (OLLI) site. We have worked on the hadrosaur site for the past few summers and it is unclear at this point if we have reached the end of the bones or if there are more in the hillside, so Tate Museum crews will do some exploring in the spring to find out. The Triceratops site is likely to contain a lot of bones form what we have seen so far. There are other sites we may explore as well, including microsites (locally rich accumulations of small fossils), and we may find some time for prospecting. The fossils here are from the late Cretaceous, about 65-66 million years old.

In August and September we will be will be returning to the Morrison Formation at Como Bluff. The fossils here date to the Jurassic Period and are about 140 million years old. We will continue to explore and collect at the NASA site which contains a sauropod and a far. Last year we collected here and found a beautiful small turtle, which is rather uncommon for the Morrison Formation.

The trips are run by the Tate Museum’s field operations and prep lab manager, JP Cavigelli. JP’s expertise has led to his participation in numerous paleontological expeditions throughout the West as well as in Niger, Mongolia, and Tanzania. JP’s recent projects include leading the excavation and preparation of Lee Rex, the only Tyrannosaurus rex found in Wyoming that will stay in Wyoming.

NOTE: All three 2015 digs are full.

Fee Includes
Accommodations in Casper are included on the Sunday evening prior to the dig and the Friday evening after the dig at the Platte River Resort. The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from Casper-Natrona County International Airport. Complimentary transportation to the museum before and after the dig can also be arranged. The hotel in Lusk (June dig) offers continental breakfast. The hotel’s indoor pool and hot tub are always welcome after a hard day in the field. The hotel in Medicine Bow (Aug and Sept digs) is not as fancy, and folks will have to pay for their breakfasts there. All hotel accommodations are double occupancy. Roommates are assigned as necessary. Single occupancy, based on hotel availability, can be arranged at extra cost. Simple, delicious lunches in the field are provided daily, as are dinners each night in Lusk, Medicine Bow or Casper. Cost is $825. Booze is not included in the cost of trips.
Attendees are required to sign a Medical Release Form. Registration and Medical Release Forms are available for printing below:
• Registration Form 2015
• Medical Release Form

For more information please call 307-268-3008 or email J.P. Cavigelli.

Photos from recent Tate Museum Summer Digs

NASA Quarry The NASA Quarry on a cool day in June 2014. Bones and jacket in foreground are Camptosaurus. The person in plaid is working on a small Jurassic turtle found among the Camptosaurus bones. Sauropod bones are beyond the bucket and bag of plaster.
sauropod rib pieces Sauropod rib pieces from the NASA Quarry.
Jurassic turtle in situ

This one is a challenge. Find the turtle in this photo.

Answer: Half of the plastron (bottom of turtle shell) is the dark bones to the right of the label. The carapace (top of turtle shell) is to the left of the label, upside down, and actually mostly covered with loose dirt. The vertical row of blackish dots immediately to the left of the label is the end of the turtle's ribs, which protrude from the shell.


Merle femur Uncovering a femur from the Merle Quarry. This is first day of dig. Removing the dirt, tarp and foil that protected the bones all winter. The moisture trapped under the foil makes the bones more visible.
Merle Quarry The Merle Quarry. Many bones have been partially jacketed with plaster and burlap, while others are being exposed and prepared for jacketing. The femur from the above photo is seen between the foot on the right edge of photo and the roll of aluminum foil.
hauling the femur Here are a few diggers hauling that same femur on a stretcher to the truck.
pubis bone Merle's pubis bone and a toe bone.
Tate MuseumTransprotation Here is our transprotation while out in the field. The Merle Site is not quite visible in the background behind the truck front bumper.



Click on the graphic below for a printable pdf which inlcudes all the info above.

Note: The 2015 edition is Under Construction.


Click for details!


Museum Tours

Come and take a guided tour of the museum. Find out about dinosaurs, minerals, gems and check out our fantastic exhibits.

A group tour makes a great field trip for any class. Be it at the end of a unit, or as an introductory look into what students will be studying in class, a tour of the Tate Geological Museum is a wonderful addition to any lesson plan. We have a wealth of specimens and fossil casts that students can handle and examine during theiRJH Deer visit. Open access at the Fossil Preparation Lab window gives students a chance to see some of the "behind the scenes" operations you don't always get to see at every museum. If you'd like a more interactive visit to the museum, we also have scavenger hunt questionnaires for students to fill out, giving them a chance to get more involved with their museum visit.

If you can't make it to the museum for a tour we also have a selection of Teaching Trunks filled with a great variety of specimens, fossil casts, books, posters and many other resources that can be checked out for use in the classroom.

It is best to schedule your tour or classroom visit as far in advance as possible to ensure you get the day and time that best fits your schedule.

Not sure if you will be able to attend a tour at the museum? We can bring the museum to you! Tate staff members have made presentations to local classrooms and community groups, as well as accompanied classes on field trips. Museum staff arrive with a number of materials, from fossil casts to the real thing, and always have plenty of hands-on items to be passed around the room.

Call today to make your appointment!
(307) 268-2447    ~    (800) 442-2963, ext. 2447

russell with a bunch of lil kids


Fundraiser Events

The next Tate Fundraiser is scheduled for autumn 2015.





Annual Summer Conference

Hoof it on over to the Tate for Tate 2015

"Artiodactyls, Perissodactyls and Whales"

Tate 2015 Logo

June 5-7, 2015

Talks on June 6, field trips planned for June 5 and 7.

Keynote Speaker: Hans Thewissen from Northeast Ohio Medical University
“Walking Whales: Paleontology in India and Pakistan”
Saturday evening with dinner at the Ramkota Hotel

Thursday 4 June 2015
1-6 PM Early registration at the Tate Geological Museum

Friday 5 June 2015
7-8 AM Check in at Tate Geological Museum, coffee provided by P Hawk Coffee and Tea
8 AM to 5 PM Field Trip to Douglas White River Formation; meet at Tate
6-8 PM Ice Breaker at The Science Zone, dinner provided by Famous Dave’s Burgers. The Science Zone is located in the basement of the furniture store at 111 W. Midwest Ave

Saturday 6 June 2015
7:30-8:30 AM Registration outside Nichols Auditorium (or here at Tate)XXXX
8:30 AM - 5 PM “Artiodactyls, Perissodactyls and Whales” Talks at the Nichols Auditorium (see details on following page)
6 PM - Keynote talk and dinner at Ramkota Best Western (800 N. Poplar Street)
Hans Thewissen, Northeast Ohio Medical University: “Walking whales: Paleontology in India and Pakistan”

Sunday 7 June 2015
7-7:30 AM Coffee and Tea at Tate provided by P Hawk
8 AM - 5ish PM Field Trip to Hughes Ranch, north of Lusk. Meet at Tate.
6-7ish PM Dinner in Lusk provided by The Sunset Grille
7ish-8:30ish PM drive back to Casper


Tate Conference 2015

Schedule of Talks

June 6, 2015

Nicholls Auditorium, Casper College

8:30-8:40 Tate Staff Welcome comments

8:40-9:10 Lou Taylor, Denver Museum of Nature and Science

9:10-9:40 Ben Burger, Utah State University Uintah Basin Regional Campus
“The systematic position of the Middle Eocene Leptotragulus from Utah and the timing of the origin of Ruminant Artiodactyls in North America.”

9:40-10:10 TJ Meehan, Rockhurst University
”Freaky Feet and Other Ruminations of Stibarus (Leptochoeridae): The First Skeleton of a Rare, 20 Million Year Survivor of the Initial Artiodactyl Explosion.”

10:10-10:30 Coffee Break

10:30-11:00 Luke Holbrook, Rowan University
“The Where and When of Perissodactyl Origins and Their Early Evolution.”

11:00-11:30 Matthew Mihlbachler, New York Institute of Technology
“Diet, Dirt, and Dental Wear: Evolutionary Paleoecology of horses and other ungulates in the changing Cenozoic Climate.”

11:30-12:00 Kaitlyn Maguire, UC Merced
“Horse diet and evolution in the Miocene of Western US.”

12:00-1:40 Lunch on the Tate Museum lawn; Tate Museum open

1:40-2:10 Shane Tucker, Nebraska DOT
“Ashfall Fossil Beds, a late Miocene mass-death assemblage from northeast Nebraska.”

2:10-2:40 Kari Prassack, Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument
"Beyond the Horse Quarry: Peccary Localities at Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument.”

2:40-3:10 Sue Ware Denver, Museum of Nature and Science
“There Must Be Something In the Water: A case of Fluoride Poisoning in the late Pliestocene (Rancholabrean) antilocaprid (Mammalia, Artiodactyla, Antilocapridae) Capromeryx minor from central Mexico.”

3:10-3:30 Snack Break

3:30-4:00 Bobby Boessenecker, Otago University
“Oligocene Eomysticetidae from New Zealand: new insights into the early evolution of ‘toothless’ baleen whales (Cetacea: Mysticeti)”

4:00-4:30 Mark T. Clementz, University of Wyoming
”Ontogenetic Variation in Dental Stable Isotope Values of Two Species of Basilosaurids (Zygorhiza kochii and Dorudon atrox).”

4:30-5:00 Laura Vietti, University of Wyoming
“Life after Death: A Review of Whale Fall Scavenging Successions”


Later, At the Ramkota Best Western

6:00-??? Keynote Speaker and dinner
Hans Thewissen, Northeast Ohio Medical University
“Walking whales: paleontology in India and Pakistan”






Field trip details:

The first field trip, June 5, will be to the White River Formation outside of Douglas, Wyoming. Regular participants are familiar with this area. It is known for exquisite small skeletons found in nodules, but also has the more typical White River fauna. The outcrops here are Chadronian (about 38 million years old) and Orellan (34 million years) and include a distinctive boundary layer of ash. A delicious hot lunch will be served on this field trip. Dinner will be back in Casper at the Friday evening icebreaker.

The second field trip will be to a new area of White River Formation north of Lusk. This is on the same ranch where we collected ammonites on recent Tate Conferences. This time we will spend the day looking for mammals (and turtles). This area does not have the famous nodular layer seen in Douglas, but, as an enticement, three bird eggs have been found here in the past few years. The outcrops here are primarily Chadronian (about 38 million years old); titanothere bones and teeth are present. Lunch onsite and dinner in Lusk are included in this field trip.

Participants may collect for their institutions or for themselves, but donations of finds to the Tate Museum are also appreciated. The Tate Museum may lay claim to any extraordinary or excessively time-consuming finds.

Here is an oreodont skull freshly exposed by the elements, at the site of the Sunday Field trip.

oreodont skull in situ


We have a block of rooms reserved at the Ramkota Best Western. If you call them to get a room, you will have to use the Group Code TATE15. Their number is 307-266-6000. NOTE: The special rate at the hotel is available until May 20. Get a room before then for a better deal. There is also a big veterans' get together in Casper that weekend, so we advise getting a room before May 20th.


The cost to attend the 2015 Tate Conference is $130. This include conference registration as well as lunch and dinner on Saturday, and dinner Friday evening. Speakers are offerd a half price discount on this. Students (college and high school) are offered a $40 discount.

Field trips are extra... the Friday field trip is $45 and includes a light breakfast and delicious hot field lunch provided by Old Dead Things. The Sunday field trip is $55 and includes a light breakfast, bag lunch and dinner in Lusk.

Register today!

Download mail-in registration form or register online

Teaching Trunks

Exciting hands-on learning for your students!

Each trunk contains various specimens, activities, replicas, videos, books, resource materials and a teachers guide.

Funded by the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (B.O.C.E.S.) and Classroom Wyoming

These trunks are available for teachers in Wyoming to check out for use in the classroom. Contents are targeted to enhance 2nd & 4th grade curricula and outcome criteria; however, they can be used for any grade level. The trunks have been designed and created by a cooperative team of Tate Museum staff and Natrona County School District teachers.

Teaching trunks can be checked out for a two week period, which can be extended if the trunk does not have a waiting list.

Trunks are available to teachers free of charge.
To reserve a trunk for a two week period, please contact the Tate reception desk (307) 268-2447

The Tate Teaching Trunks can help the teacher in the classroom in many ways. Not only do they have hands on samples of various rocks, minerals and fossils, but each trunk also comes with a great selection of posters, books, videos and activities that make the teaching of various aspects of Earth Science fun and easy. The trunks are great for grades 1,2,3,4 and 6 to reach the goals set in the Earth Science requirements.


Rocks and Minerals [inside trunk]
Casper is a great place to learn about rocks and minerals. Investigate the properties: hardness, crystal shape, cleavage, color, magnetism, streak, acid reactions. Learn to sort and classify rocks. Find out about local sites.



General Geology and Economic Geology in Wyoming [inside trunk]
Activities about volcanoes, earthquakes, erosion, deposition and more are contained within this trunk. Students can also learn about oil, coal, gas, uranium, trona, bentonite and other resources that are important to Wyoming.



Fossils [inside trunk]
What is a fossil - and how is it formed? This trunk contains examples of fossils through geologic time and shows what they can teach us about ancient environments.



Dinosaurs [inside trunk]
Students can learn about the different kinds of dinosaurs, what environments they lived in and also where they lived. Teacher's guide includes many worksheets and there are also many hands on activities aimed primarily at 2nd graders.

Scavenger Hunt

Tate Museum Scavenger Hunt

Do you want to make your visit to the Tate Museum more interactive than just looking at displays?

Here is a list of questions to help you make a customized visit of activities for your and or/ your students.

Please note that displays in the museum are often changing and new ones are being constructed. This list may not always be as updated as our displays.

  1. During which epoch did Dee live?
  2. Were mammoths herbivores, omnivores, or carnivores? How do we know this?
  3. Who has a bigger brain, humans or Tyrannosaurus rex?
  4. What product mined in Wyoming is used in kitty litter?
  5. Where was Wyoming located during the Cambrian period?
  6. Describe the climate in Wyoming during Eocene time. How do we know this?
  7. On the touch table is a fossil that might be described as the "Milky Way." What kind of fossil is this and what part are you seeing in the rock?
  8. Name the three types of meteorites. Which is most common?
  9. Name the two types of jade.
  10. Which Oligocene animal has a tooth shaped like the Greek letter pi?
  11. How many bones are there in a Triceratops jaw?
  12. What is a theropod? How many toes do they have?
  13. Which case has a penny in it and what is its purpose?
  14. What shape are the scales on a gar?
  15. Where was Dee's skull found? Describe a hypothesis as to why the skull was not near the rest of the skeleton.
  16. What is "fool's gold" and how is it different from gold?
  17. What is the chemical formula for Stibnite? Is it a silicate or non-silicate mineral?
  18. What was one of the largest predators of the White River badlands?
  19. What marine animal had the largest eye of any vertebrate?
  20. What kind of animal is "Twinkle Toes?"
  21. During what era was the granite that makes up the core of Casper Mountain formed?
  22. What kind of teeth does a whale need to eat a mixed diet? Use the whale wheel to help answer this question. Can Basilosaurus eat a mixed diet?
  23. What type of animal is Oomtar? Where was he discovered?
  24. What do the dark gray circular areas on Dee's skull indicate?

Click here to print a version of this scavenger hunt (with spaces for answers) for your Tate Museum visit.

We encourage you to come on in to the museum and try the scavenger hunt, but if you must know the answers... click here.

Content coming soon
In the Classroom
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Prehistoric FAQ's

Here are some of the most Frequently Asked Questions at the Tate Museum.
If you have a question that isn't on this list, feel free to email it to:
Russell Hawley, Education Specialist

  1. Was Tyrannosaurus rex a predator or a scavenger?
  2. Why did the dinosaurs become extinct?
  3. Did birds really evolve from dinosaurs?
  4. Were dinosaurs warm-blooded or cold-blooded?
  5. How fast was Velociraptor?
  6. How big was Velociraptor?
  7. How smart was Velociraptor?
  8. Is it true that if you don't move, a Tyrannosaurus can't see you?
  9. Why isn't a plesiosaur a dinosaur?
  10. So if a plesiosaur wasn't a dinosaur, what was it?
  11. What was the biggest dinosaur?
  12. Why did they change the name of Brontosaurus to Apatosaurus? Is it because they had attached the wrong head to the wrong skeleton?
  13. What's the difference between an ammonite and a nautiloid?
  14. How big was a pterodactyl?
  15. How can you tell real gold apart from fool's gold?
  16. What was the fastest dinosaur? It was Velociraptor, right?
  17. How can we tell what dinosaurs ate?
  18. What's the difference between Allosaurus and Tyrannosaurus?
  19. What kinds of sounds did dinosaurs make?
    Listen to an example of a Parahorn
  20. What color were dinosaurs?
  21. Wyoming used to be under the ocean, right? When was that?
  22. Where did the fossils in the Tate Museum come from? Are any of them from Wyoming?
  23. Did Dilophosaurus really spit poison?
  24. How can we tell how old dinosaur bones are?
  25. Why don't you have the real Tyrannosaurus rex skull on display?
  26. What was the smallest dinosaur?
  27. Which state has the most dinosaur fossils?
  28. Is it true that Spinosaurus was really bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex?
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Dee the Mammoth and the Pleistocene Exhibit

Dee display

Dee the Mammoth is an 11,600 year old Columbian Mammoth who lived in the American West during the Pleistocene, or Ice Age.  65 to 70 years old when he died, Dee is unique in both his advanced age and his completeness.

Dee was discovered in 2006 by a backhoe operator who was preparing an oil well pad site north of Glenrock, WY. The operator, Dee Zimmerscheid, knew that he had hit something big when several large white bones were churned up from under his machine. He called in his site supervisor, Bill Allen and together they decided that it was time to call in the land owners and the experts.

It was determined that the bones were from a mammoth and that more of the huge mammal was probably located below the surface. Dr. Kent Sundell recommended that the oil wDeeell be moved over about 100 feet and the oil companies that were involved agreed. Additionally, the Allemand/Byrd family who owned the land and thus the bones, generously donated the skeleton to the Tate Geological Museum.

During three of the next four summers, over 300 mammoth bones were recovered from the site. After recovery, the bones were transported to the museum lab to be cleaned and cataloged.  Many of the bones were complete and identifiable, making the staff and volunteer’s jobs in the lab easier.  The skeletons completeness enabled the the Black Hills Institute of Geologic Research to reassemble and mount the mammoth for display in the museum where it can be seen today.

The Pleistocene Exhibit, featuring Dee, informs visitors about Wyoming’s Pleistocene environment, introduces a few of Dee’s contemporaries and discusses the differences and similarities between mammoths, mastodons and elephants. Visitors can play the PSI (Pleisto-Scene Investigation) game to determine, on their own, how the mammoth died and follow the Timeline of Discovery for a quick view of the events leading up to and occurring after the skeleton’s discovery. Watch a video on mammoths or look at photos and home videos from the field as you learn about the life and times of Dee the Mammoth.

Dee the mammoth staring me down Dee's broken left tusk

We have this cool time-lapse video provided to us by the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research
of them working on mounting Dee's bones in their warehouse in Hill City, South Dakota.

But wait... there's more... a few questions on the subject...

How much of the skeleton is real?
Not all of the bones on the mammoth are real. The lighter, yellowish colored bones on the skeleton, such as the left leg and foot, are casts or copies. It was necessary to make casts of several bones because the originals were never recovered. 84 of the bones mounted on the skeleton are casts. Of those 84, 62 are foot and toe bones. The remaining 22 cast bones are from the leg, ribs, vertebrae and tail. A few other key bones have been cast and painted to resemble the original bones including the pelvis, skull and both tusks. In these cases the actual bone was recovered, but it was too fragile to mount in the exhibit. We believe that Dee is the largest and most complete mounted Columbian mammoth in North America.

What are tusks made of?
Mammoth, mastodon and elephant tusks are made up of dentin, a basic component found in all teeth. The dentin in the growth layers can indicate what their diet was, how healthy they were, when they were weaned, and even the time of year that they died. Baby mammoths had tiny milk tusks that erupted at around 6 months of age. They measured approximately 5cm (2 in.) in length and were replaced with permanent tusks by the end of their first year.
Mammoth’s tusks grew continuously anywhere from 2.5 cm to15 cm (1 to 6 in) a year. Growth occurred in the tusk socket and as much as a quarter of the tusk was embedded there. This means that the oldest layers of dentin, formed when the mammoth was young, were toward the tips of the tusks.

RJH skulls

How do tusks grow?
Tusks are made up of a series of "ivory cones" that spiraled as they grew, creating the distinctive twist. It has been suggested that this twist is what allowed the tusks to grow to massive lengths (up to 4.88 m or 16 ft.) without creating excessive torque on the spine and skull.
The cones (photo to right is looking into the base of a tusk) that make up the tusks have been compared to growth rings in trees. By studying the rings (photo to left) or cones, the approximate age of the mammoth can be determined. However, this method cannot be used to determine their exact age since the tips are often worn down or broken off, effectively erasing the early years.Annual and weekly growth lines can be seen in the tusks. Under high magnification even daily growth can be seen. The color of the growth lines indicates the rate at which the dentin was depos-ted. A lighter shade equals faster growth and darker lines indicate slower growth.

inside inside base of tusk

Why study elephants?
Much about extinct species can be learned by studying the habits and behaviors of their living relatives. While elephants are not direct descendants of mammoths or mastodons, they are related, and physically similar. Elephants, mammoths and mastodons are all members of the order Proboscidea (pro-boSIH-dee-a) which includes over 150 species that originated during the last 50 mil-lion years. Proboscidea is Latin in origin and means “nose” or “long flexible snout”. Today this order is represented by the two living elephant species Loxodonta africana (African elephant) and Elephas maximus (Asian elephant ).

Elephants are the closest living relatives to mammoths, and scientists can infer possible mammoth behavior and herd structure by observing elephants. Scientists are able to use the information that they gather from such behavioral studies to develop hypotheses about mammoth behavior. They then support their hypotheses with skeletal evidence from discoveries such as Dee, The Mammoth Site in South Dakota, and the Waco Mammoth Site in Texas. Dee’s skeleton helps to corroborate the theory that many bull mammoths were loners, just as many bull elephants are. By studying his remains they can further support the idea that the average Columbian mammoth life span did not extend much beyond 70 years.

Death of a Mammoth
No one can be 100% sure how Dee died. While there are several hypotheses, the most probable one is that he was ‘neutralized by natural causes’. Dee was an extremely old mammoth. He had severe arthritis in his lower back, odd growths on his bones, a bone tumor, and several other problems that would have made it difficult to walk, move and chew. (The medical term used for these bony growths or bone spurs is spondylopathy which is a type of reactive arthritis.)
Additionally, Dee was using his sixth and final set of teeth. (See Mammoth Teeth for more information) He used his last set for as long as he could, however they were worn down so far that it would have been impossible for him to eat enough food to stay healthy. Eventually, he would have starved to death.

Radio-carbon Dating
Radiocarbon dating was used to determine the approximate date that Dee died, which was 11,600 (+/- 70) years ago. This dating method was developed in 1950 and is used world-wide to determine the age of organic-based materials. Organic materials are materials that were once alive, so radiocarbon dating methods can be used on, but are not limited to, wood, charcoal, seeds, plant materials, plant-based cloth, bone, ivory, shell and hide.
Radiocarbon dating measures two levels of carbon, carbon 12 (12C) and carbon 14 (14C), which is found in organic materials. 12C is a stable isotope, meaning that it remains at the same level after the organic material that produced the carbon in life stops producing it (i.e.: the animal died or the tree was cut down). 14C is not a stable isotope, it is radioactive or unstable, and will decay at a known rate. Scientists can determine the levels of 14C and 12C in a sample, and compare the proportion of the two carbons to a modern sample, which will give an approximate date of death. The date is given plus or minus (+/-) a variable number of years, allowing for possible uncertainties in the measurement.

Working together
Continental Production Company, Mountain West Energy, LLC, and Nerd Gas Company, LLC, along with Discovery Resources, LLC, Basic Energy Services and the Allemand family all made this ‘mammoth-sized’ exhibit possible. Based upon Dr. Sundell’s recommendation, the oil companies decided that it would be in the best interest of the community to move the location of the well to facilitate the mammoth dig. Both the oil companies and the community benefited from this historic event.
Through conscientious and community-minded decisions, these companies allowed the Tate Geological Museum and Casper College to step in, collect and preserve the specimen. It is also due to the forethought and cooperation of the Allemand family and their generosity in donating the mammoth bones that Dee the Mammoth is here on display at this museum.

Dino Den

The Dino Den is located in the front, northeast corner (opposite the gift shop) as you enter the museum. Created as a dinosaur discovery zone, it gives kids room to play and investigate on their own. The Dino Den features coloring, puzzles, a mineral ID game, fossil rubbings, touchable fossil casts and dino themed toys for all ages. Stop by to play and learn anytime!

dino den


Hall of Minerals

The Mineral Exhibits line the north wall of the museum and cover mineral types, diagnostic mineral features, silicates and non-silicates, Wyoming’s extractive resources and the state gemstone, Jade. Currently in the development stages, the extractive resources and mining in Wyoming cases will be receiving a face-lift to include more up to date mining practices as well as a brief review of the history of mining in Wyoming.


Walk Through Time

The Walk Through Time, located along the back (west) wall of the museum takes visitors back through time from the Holocene hunter and gatherers of North America right back to the formation of the earth. Along the way there are several drawers with touch samples which allow visitors to interact with the fossils as they move back through time. Be sure to look for the plant fossils, the T.rex tooth, and the trilobites along the way.

Walk through time


...Two Views...


paleocene part of the WTT



Mesozoic Marine

The Mesozoic Marine exhibit exposes the underwater world that existed here in Wyoming during much of the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous. Wyoming’s warm, tropical seaways were home to a plethora of marine animals and some plants, including ammonites, belemnites, star shaped crinoids, ichthyosaurs, mosasaurs and hybodont sharks. Of particular interest (here at the Tate Museum, anyways) is the Sundance Plesiosaur (Tatenectes laramiensis), named for the founders of the museum Marion and Inez Tate.





Bones of Oomtar the mosasaur found near the town of Midwest, north of Casper are featured inthe Marine mesozoic display

marine corner




Mesozoic marine display includes mosauaurs, sharks, ammonites and more

Mesozoic Terrestrial

It was the time of the dinosaurs. The Mesozoic Era is usually better known by its three periods, the Triassic, the Jurassic and the Cretaceous. The Mesozoic Terrestrial area highlights the massive size of the dinosaurs as well as a few of the features that made some of them terrifying and so fascinating. Stand next to a Torvosaur leg, see how big an Apatosaurus foot really was, check out the size of an Allosaurus claw and have a face-off with Stan the T-rex!

Our Cretaceous Corner is currently under construction, but will soon feature several Cretaceous dinosaurs including our Hadrosaur, Dead Sheep 148, portions of Gret the Triceratops (the triceratops is the Wyoming state dinosaur) and other Cretaceous creatures.

The Mesozoic Aerial display introduces the pterosaurs that called Wyoming home. Jurassic pterosaur footprints have been discovered near Alcova Reservoir and models in the display have been reconstructed (to scale) from these footprints. These footprints also helped to solve the riddle of how pterosaurs walked when they were on the ground. Did they walk on two feet? On all four? Like a dog or a bat? Visit the Tate to find out the answer to this important question. 

t rex skull




A cast of the skull of Stan the T rex is a popular item at the Tate.

A claw of Allosaurus

allosaur claw




The Tate's pterosaur tracks display features tracks found at Alcova, 40 miles south of Casper, one of the best places in the world for pterosaur tracks.

Dead Sheep 148, our articulated partial hadrosaur skeleton. ds 148


Eocene of Wyoming

The Eocene Epoch had a warmer, wetter environment and large variety of animals flourished. The landscape was full of archaic mammals that were vastly different from mammals today. Conversely, the reptiles were amazingly similar to their modern counterparts. The Eocene display features a fossilized crab, turtles, fish, mammals, birds and feathers, crocodiles and alligators and plant pieces many of which were found in Wyoming. Learn about life after the dinosaurs, and find out for yourself how similar the Eocene reptiles were to modern reptiles.




The Tate's Eocene display features 50 million year old fossils mostly from Wyoming... fishes, birds, mammals, turtles, crocodiles, insects, leaves and more.


Oligocene/ White River of Wyoming

The Oligocene Epoch came after the Eocene. By this time dinosaurs had been extinct for about 30 million years, and mammals ruled the earth. The variety of fauna that lived during this time is well preserved in the White River Formation of Wyoming which is known for its preservation of mammals including oreodonts, titanotheres and predators such as the entelodont. See if you can find the skeleton of the three-toed horse and discover how different it is from the modern horse. How many differences can you find?

White river



This portion of the Tate Museum's White River display features a titanothere skull, a smaller rhino skull and a death assemblage of 11 small oreodonts.





The White River Diorama features reconstructions of the saber-toothed Hoplophoneus attcking a hapless oreodont. Cretaures that lived in burrows can be seen "underground".



Prep Lab

The prep lab is where the specimens are cleaned and made ready for exhibit in the museum gallery. Our prep lab is visible to the public via a sliding glass window, so you can see what we are working on and even ask questions.

One of our main projects in the prep lab these days is Dead Sheep 148, a hadrosaur skeleton found in 2005.  This jacket (at right) contains a beautifully articulated pelvis region of the animal.  We have been working on it on and off in the lab for a few years, with an interruption to clean the mammoth skull.  As of this writing, (Jan 2011) we are doing the final touches on it to put it on display. (Dead Sheep 148 is named after a recently deceased ewe that was lying in the vicinity of the hadrosaur site. Her ear tag was number 148. Her two little lambs were hiding behind her, waiting for her to wake up... a sadly tragic scene. We reported them to the rancher, who raised the lambs before setting them out to join the herd).      




dead sheep 148


The Tate Gift Shop has a variety of souvenirs for all ages, whether one enjoys dinosaurs, rocks and minerals, fossils, or all of the above. Our mission is for the learning experience to continue, even when you are all done touring the museum.

The avid reader can find the perfect book, no matter what reading level


Choose your favorite dinosaur or mammal from our collection of Carnegie/Safari models or plush animals.

animals plushes


If the rock and minerals exhibits sparked an interest in rock hounding or collecting, we can guide you on how to start!


Maybe you are interested in displaying decorative pieces in your home.

copper splash

Copper Splash

shiny rocks

Geodes, crystals, polished rocks and more

Even wearing decorative pieces is an option here!


Hand-made jewelry; made in Wyoming


Gift ShopA Tate Museum Membership will afford you
10% off of every purchase at the Gift Shop!

Gift Shop Hours

  • Monday - Friday
    9:00am - 500pm
  • Saturday
    10:00am - 4:00pm
  • Sunday

Geology Club

The Casper College Geology Club is dedicated to helping students get out of their normal day to day grind by offering weekend field trips that include fossil collecting, hiking, caving, photography, snow shoeing, caving and cross country skiing. It is mainly composed of geology students but is open to any Casper College student that has a desire to get out and enjoy the outdoors. 

The Geology Club meets every Friday at noon for an informal meeting to discuss various topics that concern trips and other activities that the club is planning or involved in. The Friday meetings are also a way for the club to catch up and hang out. The club also holds monthly meetings on the first Monday at noon of each month where we discuss and vote on activities associated with the club.

If you are interested in joining the club, come to one of our meetings and see what the club can do for you!

cave 1

Casper College Geology Club members in Boulderchoke Cave outside Lander, WY


Where is the Tate Geological Museum?
We are part of Casper College in Casper, Wyoming. The Casper College address is 125 College Drive, but that is the whole college. If you try to find use with Google Maps, you will end up a half mile away. We are actually on Lisco Drive, which is only a bit better. Casper College addreses have stumped Google. Additionally, our entrance road is not even on google maps.

The following directions are based on the Google Maps version of "125 College Drive": From the base of Casper College, get onto Casper Mountain Road and go south (uphill). Go through the stoplight (wait for it to turn green), continue uphill (south), past the road to the right that leads into the college and then take the next road on the right. The Tate Museum is right in front of you, a bit to the right.

We would love to have you visit


Casper College would like to acknowledge the Blue Envelope Health Fund for generously donating two AEDs,
one of which is housed at the Tate Geological Museum while the other will be carried into the field at the dig site by the Tate's Paleontological Team.

Blue Envelope Health Fund

  Click to view

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and Dee the Mammoth
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Tate Museum

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Museum Hours:
Monday - Friday | 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Saturday | 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Sunday | Closed
Phone: | 307-268-2447

Tate Geological Museum Mission Statement

The mission of the Tate Geological Museum at Casper College is to provide educational resources to its community and visitors by being a leading Earth Science Education Center in the region through its exhibits, collections, and programs.

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