Alabama Museum of Natural History

Museum Expedition 41 – Dallas County Paleontology – Exploring Marine Vertebrate Diversity in the Cretaceous Alabama Tides

The Museum Expedition, sponsored by the Alabama Museum of Natural History, offers a unique summer field experience for middle and high school students as well as the general public. In an effort to provide hands-on scientific field research in the areas of paleontology, archaeology, and practical ecology the Museum Expedition was designed to offer the participant an opportunity to work side by side with professional researchers on an actual field project.

Founded in 1979, the Expedition has gone to many different sites in Alabama and Mississippi, from the fossil-rich black belt region to the bluff shelters of the Tennessee River Valley, from historic archaeology at the ghost town of Old Cahawba to Native American mounds near the mighty Mississippi River.

Operating from a large tent camp in remote settings, the Expedition offers participants a chance to experience scientific research in much the same way it would have been carried out 60 years ago. With only a generator for electricity at night and a water tank to provide the only running water in camp, the participants learn to experience a way of life from a much simpler era.

Expedition 41 Dallas County Paleontology
Exploring Marine Vertebrate Diversity
in the Cretaceous Alabama Tides

Alabama’s rich fossil history awaits us as we conduct paleontology in Dallas County, Alabama with UA’s Dr. Takehito Ikejiri. We are excited to work with Dr. Ike once again to explore the area’s ancient past! Camp will be at the scenic and historic Old Cahawba Archaeological Park. We look forward to exploring Dallas County and getting to know it on a geological and historical scale. So get ready for Fossils, Fun and of course Dr. Ike’s famous sushi! See below for a word from Dr. Ike about this year’s project:

For the first time since 1993, Museum Expedition will be back to University of Alabama’s ‘Harrell Station’ Paleontological Site – one of the single most productive fossil sites for Cretaceous marine vertebrates in the Southeast. In this 320 acre chalk exposure, over 3000 vertebrate fossils (including, at least, 50 species)  have been discovered, including large predatory shark teeth, rare bony fish species, and many skeletons of marine reptiles (e.g., mosasaurs, sea turtles, elasmosaurs). We are planning to conduct some scientific investigations (e.g., systematized fossil excavation, field geology, fossil and diversity analyses). To accomplish them, we will need to discover and excavate more fine fossils such as ‘skeletons’ that provide important scientific clues to understand the mechanisms of their evolutionary success and declines during the latest dinosaur era – the Late Cretaceous.

Note: Some information about Harrell Station and fossils can be found in this paper (Ikejiri et al., 2013):

We will be offering three sessions this summer and like last year each camp will start on a Monday and will end on Saturday.

  • Middle School Camp (6, 7 & 8th Grade): June 3-8
  • High School Camp (9, 10, 11, & 12th Grade): June 10-15
  • Public Archeology Camp (age 14 and up or accompanied by parent if younger): June 17-22

We hope you’ll plan to join us for a fun, action-packed week at camp.  So, act now and reserve your place to participate in the 41st Museum Expedition.

Course Credit

Students can earn elective high school credit through advance arrangements with their school and the Expedition staff.  Teachers can earn University of Alabama continuing education units or professional development hours.


Space is limited to 20 participants per week, so contact us soon to reserve your spot.  To register for the program, please complete a registration form (click and print the document below) and return it along with a $50 deposit to reserve a space to participate in the Museum Expedition 41. Download the Museum_Expedition_41_Application.


Program tuition is $395 per week ($370 for UA Museums Members).  Accommodations, food, free t-shirt, and scientific equipment will be provided; a detailed list of what to bring is included in the registration packet.  For more information or to become a member of the Museum, call 205-348-7550.

More Information

Email us at museum.expedition@ua.edu for information about the next Museum Expedition.