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"Buster's Dino Dilemma"
Season/Series: 1
Number in season: 3b
Original Airdate: United States October 9, 1996[1]
Canada January 8, 1997[2]
Germany December 11, 2001[3]
Written by: Matt Steinglass
Storyboard by: Raymond Lebrun
"D.W. All Wet"
"D.W.'s Imaginary Friend"
Read transcript

"Buster's Dino Dilemma" is the second half of the third episode in the first season of Arthur. It was later adapted into the book Buster's Dino Dilemma.


Buster and Arthur make a long-awaited field trip to a dinosaur excavation site and museum. On his own, Buster discovers a fossilized dinosaur footprint and takes it home. Despite it being against museum rules, Buster does not want to relinquish his find.


Arthur talks to the viewers about how people can get carried away with things sometimes, like when D.W. played the Hippo Hunt video game for four days straight, and when Francine tried to score a hundred baskets in basketball in a row (which she probably failed at). Arthur then says "Well, now Buster's gone crazy for dinosaurs!"

In Mr. Ratburn's class, he announces that they will be taking a field trip to Rainbow Rock State Park, where they will find different kinds of fossils. Buster is so excited that he knocks over his chair.

Buster's Dino Dilemma

The class arrives at Rainbow Rock State Park. Buster and Arthur arrive with Arthur carrying a heavy load of supplies. The whole class begins playing around until Mr. Ratburn alerts everyone to follow him.

They enter the exhibition area and meet up with Ranger Ruth, who will be their fossil-hunting guide. She asks the class what a fossil is and Buster answers in a very scientific manner, much to everyone's surprise.

The show begins, and Ranger Ruth explains about life many years ago: how there were different plants, bugs and of course, dinosaurs. She further explains how the animals would die out. During this scene, the back person of the dinosaur costume accidentally falls backwards and runs away. Mr. Ratburn has the laughing class quiet down.

Ruth continues and explains how certain parts of the bodies such as bones would last during the rotting time, and how water covered the land and eventually became rock and dirt, thus covering the remains, turning them into fossils.

After the show, the class heads out to hunt for fossils. On the way, Ruth talks to the children about how certain layers in the cliff date how old a certain fossil is depending on where it is found. Muffy asks how they are going to search in the cliffs, but Ruth says that they will be searching in the water.

In excitement, Francine rushes into the water and begins searching. Later that day, all the kids are still searching, with Buster and Arthur not having any luck. Mr. Ratburn notifies them that they will be leaving soon.

Buster, in determination, wants to keep looking until they leave. Arthur protests at this, for the other students are having soda during their lunch break. He accidentally picks up a rock, which turns out to be a fossil. Buster notices, and goes through a daze.

Nervously, Arthur drops the fossil into the water, but Buster jumps after it and begins digging through the rocks rapidly until he finds it. Arthur thinks it is a leaf fossil, but Buster rebukes this and sees that it is a footprint.

When the kids are gathered together, Brain shows Ruth a shell fossil and she places it into a sack. Buster notices this and is surprised to see that they do not get to keep their findings. Ruth explains to him that they take the fossils to the museum.

Buster is upset at this and hides the footprint in his hat. He also pretends that he and Arthur have not found any fossils. As they leave, Arthur tells Buster he should give his fossil up, but Buster does not yield and still wants to keep it.

Ruth meets up with them, congratulates Buster for being an excellent paleontologist and pats him on the head, where the fossil is. Because they are so nervous, they imagine Ruth as a dinosaur on the way out. On the way home on the bus, Arthur asks if they could tell someone about the fossil, but Buster denies this, for he thinks it is too dangerous.

When Buster gets home, he wraps the fossil in tinfoil, and stuffs it in a bag in a box of marbles to hide in his closet. At dinner, Buster's mom asks him if he found any fossils on the field trip, and he nervously says no.

The next day at school, Arthur asks if he can come to Buster's house see the fossil, but Buster declines this, for he thinks his mom would see it. Arthur attempts to reason with Buster that there is no point in having the fossil if they can not even see it themselves.

Mr. Ratburn enters the classroom, then talks to the class about their field trip and about how rare certain fossils are, especially footprints. In shock, Buster faints and falls backwards on his chair.

Later that night, Buster is at home writing at his desk, until there is a pounding on the door. After he asks who it is, Ruth answers as the "fossil police". They then break down the door and the police bring in Arthur, who apologizes to Buster for telling; they had tickled him. Ruth believes that Buster is keeping a dinosaur in his room. Buster protests, but a roar is suddenly heard in Buster's closet, and a T-Rex bursts in. Buster screams, only to wake up in his bed; it was all a dream. He goes to Arthur's house with the box and wakes up Arthur by throwing rocks at his bedroom window. When Buster tries to give the fossil to him, Arthur refuses.

Buster is desperate and says that it is causing him distress. He thought it would be great to have the fossil for himself, but the guilt of stealing is driving him crazy. Arthur says it does not belong to Buster nor himself. Arthur and Buster call Ranger Ruth and the next day, give the fossil to the museum.

The curator tells the boys that they are not quite sure what made the footprint. Professors think it may be a baby Daspletosaurus or maybe an adult Coelosaur. Ruth shows the boys the nameplate for the fossil, which says: Dinosaur Footprint — discovered by Buster Baxter and Arthur Read. With that, Arthur and Buster exchange a high-five.






  • When Arthur and Buster are talking to each other at night, it is revealed that Buster has aardvark slippers, as opposed to Arthur's bunny slippers.
  • Arthur Holden, who voices Mr. Ratburn, also voices the professor at the end of the episode.
  • Buster screaming in the title card is similar to him reacting to the dinosaur in his nightmare.
  • In the computer game "Arthur's Camping Adventure" Arthur and Buster can discover a fossil at a hidden location. They hand it over to park rangers at the end of the game. This appears to be a reference to this episode.

Cultural references

  • The professor at the museum mentions "Dr. Marsh" and "Dr. Cope" offering their own ideas as to what dinosaur made the footprint. This is a real-life reference to paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, who shared a personal rivalry in their hunt for fossils in the so-called Bone Wars of the 1800s.
  • The video game system D.W. uses strongly resembles the Atari 2600 and the controller resembles the Gamepad for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
    • A few of the sound effects used in Hippo Hunt are the same as in Pac-Man for the Atari 2600. Note: the SFX was used from the Series 1000 Sound Library by Sound Ideas.

Episode connections


  • The cold open is missing when this episode is made available on the PBS KIDS website and app.
  • When Buster defines what a fossil is, George's skin is much darker.
  • When Ranger Ruth first appears, her watch is missing, but in the next few seconds, her watch appears.
  • When Buster raises his hand, Maria is missing from behind him.
  • When Buster throws a rock back, the rock pile is gray, but when the camera shows both Arthur and Buster, it is yellow

Difference from the Book version

Production notes

  • This is the first episode in which the tongue coloring is pink, as opposed to white.

Home video