Dinosaur digs at Egg Mountain get new owners
Egg Mountain, site of one of North America's premier dinosaur discoveries, will soon have a new owner.
The Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman has agreed to purchase the 553-acre property west of Choteau from The Nature Conservancy. The Conservancy will retain a conservation easement on the property.
The Museum's curator of paleontology, Jack Horner, who rose to international fame for his theories based on the dinosaur bones found at Egg Mountain, calls Egg Mountain the most significant dinosaur research site in the world. "Egg Mountain, so rich in dinosaur history, has been tremendously important for the museum. We're pleased we're able to purchase this property, where we'll continue our paleontology research and education programs," said Museum of the Rockies dean and director Sheldon McKamey. The Egg Mountain property will be renamed the Beatrice R. Taylor Paleontology Research Site in honor of Bozeman resident Beatrice Taylor, whose family donated the money for the purchase.
Taylor first visited Egg Mountain in 1983 and was a frequent volunteer on the field crews. Currently she is chair of the Museum's National Advisory Board and is a past board president. She has also chaired several capital campaigns. The Nature Conservancy purchased Egg Mountain in 1985 from the James and Marian Peebles family, as part of the Conservancy's larger purchase of the Pine Butte Swamp Preserve. The Conservancy leases the property to the Peebles for cattle grazing, while allowing the Museum to run a paleontology field camp.
As the new owner, the Museum plans to continue that lease agreement. "We're very pleased that the Peebles will continue to be stewards of this area for us," said Carl Lehrkind III, chair of the Museum's board of directors. The Museum of the Rockies is in the "paleontology business, so it's fitting that it takes ownership of this property and becomes the steward of its paleontological treasures, said Dave Carr, the Conservancy's Rocky Mountain Front program director.
"Through the conservation easement, we'll continue to make sure the natural values of this site are protected." Egg Mountain started its ascent to fame in 1978 when Bynum, Montana, resident and fossil enthusiast Marion Brandvold discovered the fossilized baby dinosaurs there. Brandvold showed the fossils to Jack Horner, who was then a fossil preparator at Princeton University on vacation in Montana.
A dinosaur statue in Choteau, Montana. David Reese photo
He immediately recognized the importance of the Egg Mountain find. The discovery led Horner to his now widely accepted theory of maternal nurturing of baby dinosaurs. Egg Mountain was rich in fossil discoveries of Maiasaurs. He named the dinosaurs "Maiasaura peeblesorum" after the Peebles family. The Museum has held paleontology field schools at Egg Mountain for years, and continues to bring tours and workshops to the site, as does the Old Trail Museum in Choteau.
Sam Rose, board chairman of the Old Trail Museum, said the sale is "welcome and exciting news. We look forward to a long productive relationship with the Museum of the Rockies in providing educational programs to dinosaur enthusiasts. We believe this collaboration will attract visitors to the Choteau area." "We want to continue to be responsive to the local community and its interest in Egg Mountain," said McKamey.
On the Web: www.museumoftherockies.org