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Young Muscle, Very Old Bones

Volunteers remove dirt from around the dinosaur bones.

Sun Advocate associate editor

The dinosaur pit at the USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum will never look the same.

On Tuesday, shovels were scraping, wheelbarrows were rolling and dust was flying everywhere as about 20 volunteer workers removed the dirt around the dinosaur bones that have rested in it for years.

The whole effort was organized by 15-year-old Michael Clark of Wellington, who chose the dirty work for his Eagle Scout project.

"I was on an archaeological dig at Monticello with Grant Smith, who works for the BLM," Clark said. "I asked him if there was something I could do for an Eagle project that had something to do with that. He told me to talk to the museum, and I talked to John Bird there. He told me he had an idea, but it was sort of ambitious."

Indeed. The yards of desert dirt removed made a sizeable mound in the parking lot behind the museum, and the dust coated the respirator masks of all the workers and soiled their work clothes head to toe.

The labor-intensive work of cleaning the pit is the first step in transforming the appearance of the whole display. Museum Director Ken Carpenter has said the dinosaurs need to be remounted in more dramatic poses. Right now two of them are lying flat, looking, well, dead.

The black paint on the bones will also be removed so people will know they are viewing authentic fossils.

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