Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Brush up on the past with National Fossil Day events in North Texas
The day to play is Saturday, October 15.
Paleontologists and park rangers across the nation will celebrate the second annual National Fossil Day on Wednesday, October 12 as part of National Science Week. But in North Texas, the majority of lessons about fossils and the importance of preserving them actually take place on Saturday, October 15.
(One exception is National Fossil Day on Wednesday at the Museum of Nature & Science, which teaches participants Paleontology 101. If you and your kids can get away midday on a Wednesday, it's worth your time.)
In prehistoric times, the tyrannosaurus rex and the microraptor roamed the Earth. Fast-forward about 65,000 millennia (give or take a few thousand years) and these prehistoric pets have been replaced by modern society. Though they are no longer a part of everyday life, artifacts of these antediluvian animals can be found right beneath our feet.
Stephan Gozdecki, president of the Dallas Paleontological Society (DPS), not only has his own affinity for the subject but also enjoys observing others as they learn about paleontology. As he puts it, it is an “interesting, ever-changing subject.” He and many of the DPS’s 400 members will be out at one of four partner locations on October 15 to share their love for learning about fossils.
For a great hands-on experience for the kiddos, go to Mineral Wells Fossil Park. It is one of the few parks in the country that allows you to keep what you find. The FBI — that is, the Fossil Bureau of Investigation, a sub-division of DPS — will be on hand with literature. Guided walks, history lessons, and fossil identification will also take place.
Officials at the Heard Museum in McKinney will demonstrate how to prep recovered fossil remains. These will feature the “Garland Mosasaur,” an extinct marine creature that was discovered in a creek in Garland in 2008.
The Arlington Archosaur site presents a great opportunity to discover our past. More dinosaur fossils have been removed from this site than any other site in North Texas. Derek J. Main, a key member of the site’s research team, will be on hand to help.
The Army Core of Engineers will team with members of DPS at the North Sulphur River in Ladonia Park. The two teams will work to determine where to dig to preserve paleontological history. They will also develop an environment impact statement. Vertebrate paleontologist Louis Jacobs, and David Hill of DPS, will be in attendance for a tour of the area.
If you’ve never participated in a paleontological dig, be careful. Says Gozdecki, “[You] kind of get hooked on the whole thing.”
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