October 15, 2014 By Karpf
“Fossil Roadshow” to be Included in
National Fossil Day Festivities at
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument
Festivities for the National Fossil Day at Agate Fossil Beds will kick off at 9 a.m. on Saturday, October 18 with children’s activities lasting throughout the day. At 10:30 a.m., Ranger Fred MacVaugh will lead a hike to the historic quarries on the Fossil Hills Trail. At 1 p.m. Dr. Emmett Evanoff from the University of Northern Colorado will present, “Animals, Plants, Volcanoes, and Ancient Climate Change; the Fauna and Flora of the White River Group of the Great Plains.” After his talk Dr. Evanoff and some of his students will conduct a “Fossil Roadshow” and identify fossils that visitors bring in.
Ranger Fred MacVaugh has worked at Agate Fossil Beds National Monument for two seasons and has researched both the physical excavation sites and the Cook papers where he has learned much about the history of the excavations and the people involved. His walk at 10:30 a.m. will be fun, informative and a great time to get out in the prairie. Both trails will be open from dawn till dusk.
At 1 p.m., Dr. Evanoff will present “Animals, Plants, Volcanoes, and Ancient Climate Change, the Fauna and Flora of the White River Group of the Great Plains.” The White River fossil fauna is one of the best preserved in the upper Eocene and lower Oligocene rocks of North America, and records the environments during one of the most volcanically active times and one of the most major climatic changes in the Cenozoic (Age of Mammals). Plants are rare in the White River rocks, but we know much from the Florissant fossil flora of Colorado. This will be a tour of the organisms and ancient environments preserved in the White River Group.
Dr. Emmett Evanoff is an Associate Professor of Geology at the University of Northern Colorado where he teaches a variety of courses in sedimentary geology, paleontology, and Colorado geology. Dr. Evanoff also teaches adult education courses in paleontology and geology at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. He received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Wyoming, and his masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
Throughout the day, fossil refrigerator magnets will be available for youngsters to paint using their imaginations. These magnets imitate fossil casts which are an important part of the preservation of the original fossils while allowing the public to see what the animal skeletons looked like. The Junior Paleontologist Activity Book will also be available. When youngsters finish this book they will receive a badge and a certificate as well as a special prize to remember the day. The trails are available from dawn till dusk for on your own exploration of the sites where fossils were found in the late 1800’s.
October 15th is the sixth annual National Fossil Day, with many events around the country held that day and the weekends surrounding it. National Fossil Day is held in conjunction with Earth Science Week, an event that encourages people everywhere to explore the natural world and learn about the geosciences. Earth Science Week is celebrated during the second full week of October. National Fossil Day is organized by the National Park Service to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values. Visit the National Fossil Day website at http://nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday/ .
The non-profit Oregon Trail Museum Association operates the bookstore in the Agate Fossil Beds Visitor Center and carries the official National Fossil Day posters, pins, magnets, and postcards. These products, featuring some of the amazing fossils found in this country, are great keepsakes of Fossil Day. Books about fossils, fossil exploration, and The Cook Collection of American Indian Artifacts are also available.
Agate Fossil Beds National Monument is located just 22 miles south of Harrison, or 34 miles north of Mitchell, Nebraska on State Highway 29, then east on River Road for three miles to the visitor center. The visitor center is open from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. and the two trails are open from dawn till dusk. The park charges no admission. For more information, go to www.nps.gov/agfo or visit Agate Fossil Beds on Facebook.