Killing the Cockroach

Cockroaches are feared, hated, sprayed, and stomped. But, we can’t seem to get rid of them. They have survived multiple global disasters and even outlasted the dinosaurs, but can all of their fancy adaptations save them from the current extinction crisis? In his 2019 TEDxBuffalo talk, Penn Dixie Executive Director Dr. Phil Stokes explores why some species are more prone to extinction than others.

Dig With The Experts

Cancelled — 2021 Date TBA

Join us for our signature fossil dig — Dig with the Experts! This is our very popular, once yearly opportunity to unearth the best, most complete, and most unexpected fossils at Penn Dixie. We’ll have equipment do the heavy lifting and scientific experts on site to help with locating and identifying the best fossils. You’ll have to do your share of splitting and digging, of course, but you’re guaranteed to find something cool and interesting.

Tickets – Select date to purchase
Saturday August 29: Members $35, non-members $40
Sunday August 30: Members $20, non-members $25, under 18 $15
Weekend Pass: Members $45, non-members $55 – SAVE $10

Expert volunteers — including scientists, leading fossil collectors, and experts on local geology — will lead the dig in a freshly excavated section of the Lower Windom Shale and will demonstrate how to find Devonian Period trilobites, cephalopods, fish remains, brachiopods, corals, wood, and a range of other marine invertebrates. Thanks to our experts — all volunteer collectors and paleontologists who travel to Penn Dixie to share their time and knowledge — we are celebrating our 16th dig in 2020! Saturday participants will receive a special commemorative gift.

Dig Times
Saturday August 29 – 8:00 am to 3:00 pm
Sunday August 30 – 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

Want to stick around a few more days? Dig With The Experts guests are welcome to continue collecting fossils at Penn Dixie for no additional charge during the week of August 31 to September 4. Just show your wrist band at the entrance and you’ll be all set.

But, wait — there’s more! Superstar paleontologist ‘Paleo’ Joe Kchodl and Executive Director Dr. Phil Stokes will join us for special science talks the evening before the dig in the Gateway Building Auditorium, 3556 Lakeshore Road in Blasdell, NY.

On Friday August 28, Dr. Stokes will present his overview of Penn Dixie’s rocks and fossils, titled Britain to Buffalo: The Fossil Connection, at 6:30 pm. Keynote speaker PaleoJoe will present Devonian: The Age of Fish at 7:00 pm. PaleoJoe will also display some of his fossils and will host a book signing following his talk.

These family-friendly presentations are FREE for Penn Dixie members AND registered dig guests, or $4 for the public. Refreshments included. No reservations needed. Talks begin at 6:30 pm.

Director’s Notes: This program will sell out — please reserve in advance to guarantee a spot. By popular demand, we offer Child (under age 18) tickets for Sunday’s dig at $15 each. Children must be accompanied at all times. We do not recommend that children under age 7 attend this program due to the technical and safety requirements of splitting rocks. Children are welcome to attend on Saturday at the regular rate. During Dig With The Experts, other areas of Penn Dixie will be open to fossil collectors of all ages and regular tours will be available. Tickets are electronic and will not be mailed.

International Guests: If the Square Store cannot process your transaction, please email Dr. Phil Stokes at with your name, order info (i.e., dates, numbers and types of tickets), and membership status. We’ll send you a PayPal invoice directly. When you arrive, please request special documentation to help at customs.

Dig with the Experts draws collectors from around the globe for this unique opportunity, which was developed and is currently co-led by our friends from the Cincinnati Dry Dredgers. Bring a hammer, chisel, safety glasses, newspaper, and paper towels to wrap your fossils. Extra water is recommended, plus bring rain gear just in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Food trucks will be on site Saturday and Sunday to serve lunch. Guests are welcome to bring their own food and beverages, as well as a small cart to transport personal items and specimens. Chairs and umbrellas are okay, too. We thank Zoladz Construction Co., Inc. for their help to get Penn Dixie ready for this big event.

Additional information:

Penn Dixie Frequently asked questions

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An Eyecatching Trilobite

By Dr. Phil Stokes, Executive Director

I’m always elated when a guest finds a really neat fossil and 2019 Dig With The Experts provided enough excitement to carry me forward for a long while! Many collectors uncovered large, excellently preserved specimens from the newly-excavated portion of Penn Dixie Fossil Park & Nature Reserve. Complete trilobites were on the menu, and the dig did not disappoint hundreds of enthusiastic diggers like Jimmy Cyrus from Kentucky.

Jimmy large phacops 1
The unprepared trilobite as found by Jimmy Cyrus at Dig With The Experts.
Jimmy large phacops 2
Preparation a little further along.

Jimmy submitted these photos of this beautifully-prepared Eldredgeops (Phacops) rana trilobite. As you can see, the carapace is entirely intact and all of the distinctive Eldredgeops features are visible. Malcolm Thornley — one of Penn Dixie’s amazing volunteer experts — did an incredible job preparing this specimen.

Finished 1
Ta-da! Great job, Malcolm!

My most favorite attribute of our trilobites is the eyes. Once prepared, you can — with a magnifier — count the dozens of eyelets on each compound eye. But, that’s not the weirdest thing. Did you know that the eyes were located on turret-like organs which could swivel? Trilobites could rotate their eyes in nearly 360 degrees!

Even the trilobite name — ‘Rana’ — refers to the eyes. In Latin, it means ‘frog’ due to the frog-like nature of the eyes! But, maybe there’s one more language connection to make. In Arabic, Rana is a somewhat common name. The meaning? Eyecatching.