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Hello, Dolly!

Great Plains Dinosaur Museum and Phillips County Hospital team up to investigate 'Diplodocus' Dolly death with CT Scan in Malta


Mark Hebert

Setting up the CT Scan - last Wednesday night, Phillips County Hospital and Great Plains Dinosaur Museum staff met at the hospital to scan fossils from Dolly, a 'Diplodocus', for research purposes. Pictured are, from the left, Tammy Hubeny, Phillips County Hospital CT Tech, Emily Keeble, GPDM, Donny Bagley, Lab/X-Ray Manager, Amanda Hendrix, GPDM, and Cary Woodruff, GPDM Director of Paleontology.

The Great Plains Dinosaur Museum (GPDM) teamed up with the Phillips County Hospital and Family Health Clinic in Malta last week at the hospital to conduct CT Scans on "Dolly", a long-neck dinosaur species known as Diplodocus.

GPDM's Director of Paleontology, Cary Woodruff was joined by Museum interns Emily Keeble, of the United Kingdom, and Amanda Hendrix, hailing from Virginia, to meet up with Phillips County Hospital's CT Tech Tammy Hubeny and Donny Bagley, Lab/X-Ray Manager, to scan remains of "Dolly", which Woodruff is very familiar with.

"This is a dinosaur I collected while I was with the Museum of the Rockies when I was a master's student at Montana State and we started digging it up in 2015," he said. "We spent three summers digging it up and they have loaned them to us."

Woodruff explained that what is special and unique about Dolly is it was not an adult dinosaur, is one of the most complete Diplodocus ever found and died from a respiratory infection.

"This is the very first case of a respiratory infection in a dinosaur and we are CT Scanning the bones to actually look at the signs in the bone of that respiratory infection. It is really cool that this is not only is this the very first documented case of respiratory infection in a dinosaur and it was found in Montana, but also the scientific work is being done here in Malta."

Woodruff said that what will hopefully come from the scans is narrowing down what kind of respiratory infection Dolly died from and added that the scientific team - made up of paleontologists from Montana, Ohio, California, and Florida - will also hopefully be able to determine the cause of the infection. Woodruff thanked Bagley and the entire Hospital .

"The Phillips County Hospital has been incredibly generous to the museum, and has donated not only CT use, but also lots of important office equipment," Woodruff said. "Without their incredible generosity, this project wouldn't be possible, and it's amazing to think that a 'very first' in paleontology is actively happening here in Malta!"

As the Museum staff and the Hospital X-ray staff strategically placed the fossils on the CT Scan table prior to scanning, a few made remarks on the event.

"I've never done this before, so it seems pretty cool," Hendrix said. "We are going to hopefully get to see what caused the infection."

"We have had some interesting people in here today," Hubeny said of the X-ray room, "but none were this old."

Woodruff said he would share the finding of the scans with the PCN as soon as possible.

The scanning of Dolly comes just days before the GPDM hosts the Judith River Formation Symposium in Malta which gets underway on Friday, June 28, runs until June 30, and will feature a field trip, nearly 20 speakers, the annual Wine & Dino, and a last hurrah at Blue Ridge Brewery on Sunday. See more information about the Judith River Formation Symposium in their advertisement on page 6A of this week's PCN or visit the GPDM website at


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