A record 1,200 members of the Society for Vertebrate Paleontology are expected to attend the conference at Montana State University. This is the first time the society has met in Montana.
Shelley McKamey, a conference organizer and assistant director of the Museum of the Rockies, attributes the increase to an interest in Montana dinosaur sites and the popularity of Bozeman paleontologist Jack Horner.
"This is going to be a very busy meeting," said Pat Leiggi, administrative director of paleontology at the museum and chair of the host committee.
Presentations are scheduled every 15 minutes from 8 a.m. on Oct. 3 until 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 in three separate ballrooms of the Student Union Building on the Montana State University campus. Nearly 250 posters will be set up in the Shroyer Gymnasium on campus.
Some participants have called or e-mailed the museum, wondering if the conference was canceled following the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington D.C.
Leiggi said some scientists taking international flights may not make it to the conference owing to a slow down in air traffic, but he doesn't expect many cancellations.
The society plans to collect donations from members and forward them to the victims and families of the recent tragedies.
"The feeling is, 'We know we're going to assemble so let's try to do something together [to help]'," Leiggi said.
When they get down to the business of science, participants will hear presentations on more than just dinosaurs. They'll hear about extinct sharks, sea turtles, rodents, sabertooth cats, bears, dolphins, woolly mammoths, horses, elephant birds, armadillos and lizards.