Explore the world of ancient creatures that once roamed the Earth at one of the many programs taking place across the country for National Fossil Day on October 14th. The National Park Service and partners across the country will host events and programs throughout the week that promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils.
“Fossils not only offer clues to the history of life, past climates, and ancient landscapes, but also spark our curiosity and discovery,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “Two national park sites created within the last year – Waco Mammoth National Monument and Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument – are examples of the success of communities and partners working together to preserve these irreplaceable resources for future generations.”
Fossils discovered on the nation’s public lands, including more than 250 national parks, preserve prehistoric life from all major eras of Earth’s history and include samples from every major group of animal or plant. Visitors have the opportunity to see fossilized remains in the same places where those animals and plants lived millions of years ago.
National Fossil Day was started in 2010 by the National Park Service and the American Geological Institute. This year, more than 300 partners, including museums, federal and state agencies, fossil sites, science and education organizations, avocational groups, and national parks such as Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, and Fossil Butte National Monument, will sponsor special events.
For more information on National Fossil Day, including a calendar of events, visit http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday/. Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
Join the National Fossil Day Celebration in D.C.: Paleontologists and geologists from the National Park Service will be part of a marquee kickoff Fossil Day celebration at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. on October 10th from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Along with colleagues from the Smithsonian Institution, American Geosciences Institute, the National Science Foundation, Dinosaur Valley State Park, and Maryland Dinosaur Park, they will help children explore prehistoric life and dig for fossils. Children are invited to sworn in as “Junior Paleontologists” every hour from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Celebrate the 100th anniversary of Dinosaur National Monument: Help Dinosaur National Monument commemorate its 100th anniversary at Rocktoberfest from October 10th-17th. Travel millions of years in the past through the Fossil Discovery Trail Hike and Quarry History Exhibit, make your own fossils, and become a Junior Paleontologist. Can’t make it to the Colorado-Utah border – then take a virtual tour with the Digital Quarry Project at www.CarnegieQuarry.com.
Discover Two New National Parks: Check out two National Park Service sites established within the last year. Waco Mammoth National Monument in Waco, Texas is having a celebration on October 17th with games, food, contests, and tours. Every Saturday afternoon in October, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument in Las Vegas, Nevada is offering family-friendly fossil activities in the Nevada State Museum. The park will also join the Las Vegas Natural History Museum and Protectors of Tule Spring at the Museum on October 17th from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate fossil discovery in southern Nevada.
Become a Junior Paleontologist: Earn a Junior Paleontologist badge by downloading a book and completing fun fossil activities. Books are also available at many National Park Service sites that have fossil resources.
Take a Fossil Field Trip: Schedule a field trip at a park or museum or download a lesson plan for your class! National parks that have in-park fossil field trip opportunities or in-class projects include Grand Canyon National Park, Curecanti National Recreational Area, and Cumberland Island National Seashore.