Across the West, the stage is set for a new type of gold rush: the hunt for prehistoric dinosaur fossils. In the badlands of Wyoming, Montana and the Dakotas, ranchers and cowboys are uncovering valuable dinosaur bones on their land and using the discoveries to help save their livelihoods. The stakes to advance the understanding of prehistoric creatures are high, and so is the possible payday as these fossils can be worth millions.
In the all new series DINO HUNTERS, cowboys and ranchers rely on their deep knowledge of the land to search for prehistoric dinosaur fossils – from T-Rexes and Triceratops to, excitingly, the historic discovery of contested species Nanotyrannosaur. Take a look at the video below to learn more about rancher Clayton Phipps' exciting find.
DINO HUNTERS | Clayton Phipps Makes History with New Fossil Discovery 01:49
You can follow Phipps' discovery this season, but take a moment to meet him and the other ranchers featured on the new series below.
Born into cattle ranching, Phipps discovered that the land his family owned had a lot more to offer when he found his first dinosaur fossil in 2003. Only three years later, he unearthed what is considered one of the greatest fossil specimens ever discovered, the spectacular “Dueling Dinosaurs.” With deep roots in Montana, Clayton is well connected to other ranchers who sit on fossil-rich badlands dating back 65 million years. Along with his 12 year-old son, Luke, and a small team of fossil experts, Clayton sets out every digging season on the trail of his next major discovery.
A true cowboy and businessman who “just can’t slow up,” Mike Harris has kept himself busy working since he was a kid. When he stumbled across a triceratops horn on his pastureland about 20 years ago, he realized there was more to ranching than cattle. In 2011, he found a T-Rex worth millions; its sale could pay off his ranch, but it’s hard to find a buyer with that kind of cash—so “Cowboy Rex” is still on the shelf. While he hunts for a buyer, he’s hedging his bets, prospecting for another big dinosaur that could bring the payday he needs.
With a father like Mike Harris, it’s no wonder Jake Harris has spent his whole life trying to catch up to his dad. After spending eight years as a teacher, Jake returned to the ranch to work alongside the person he admires most. More manpower expedites the cattle work, freeing up precious time to pursue what they love most—hunting for dinosaurs.
Back in the day, Aaron Bolan ran heavy machinery for a living and studied to be a homicide detective. But his free time was spent prospecting for dinosaurs on his Uncle John’s Wyoming ranch. Five years ago, he took a leap of faith and moved to the ranch, tying his digging and forensic expertise to his passion for paleontolog. Now, he has to make sure it pays off. Aaron is one of the few who’ve been struck twice by lighting, but he’d rather make his reputation by discovering a unique and historic dinosaur.
Jared Hudson has been hunting dinosaurs with the pros since he was 16 years old, getting his start at a site known worldwide for its mammoth fossils. Inspired by the team that found the famous T-Rex, “Sue,” Jared found a South Dakota T-Rex of his own. But what should have been the high point of his career was dashed by a contract dispute with the landowner. The bad blood spread to neighboring ranches, cutting off access to his best dinosaur hunting grounds. With legal bills piling up and his revenue stream in a stranglehold, Jared finds himself starting from scratch. He’s determined to find another great fossil—but also to clear his name and return to the area he once called his “second home.”
In every episode, these ranchers uncover new fossil discoveries. But if they are unable to excavate the finds before the harsh winter bears down, they risk losing the fossils to erosion, turning their potential fortune to dust.
DINO HUNTERS premieres Friday, June 19 at 9P ET on Discovery. In addition to watching the series on Discovery, viewers can watch DINO HUNTERS by downloading the Discovery GO app. Fans can join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #dinohunters. Follow Discovery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for the latest updates.