Fossil Festival and activities – Museum of the Rockies

The Museum of the Rockies–located in Bozeman, Montana–has an enormous collection of fossils.  It is also home to Jack Horner, known even to those who do not follow paleontology as the consultant to the “Jurassic Park” films (next movie potentially released in 2015).  When I connected with him earlier this year, the museum had, among many others, over 100 Triceratops fossils.

The Boston Museum of Science held an entire day of presentations by paleontologists in March 2013 called “Dinosaur Day“.  Two of those presentations were done by Jack Horner himself, and John Scannella, mentioned below.  It was a fascinating day, so I am a bit envious of those who live near Bozeman and are able to visit this museum regularly.

The Museum of the Rockies has been celebrating National Fossil Day since its inception in 2010. The Fossil Festival events they have planned are listed further below.

Currently, there is a lot of activity surrounding the Wankel T-Rex (so named for its discoverer, Kathy Wankel, in 1988), a fossil they are trying to move to the Smithsonian.

Nonetheless, Angie Weikert, Education & Public Programs Director, generously responded to some of my questions:

———————————————–

1. What events occur during National Fossil Day?

We host three different events to celebrate with the Fossil Fest only being one of them.  This is our second annual Fossil Fest to celebrate National Fossil Day.

Fossil Festival
Tuesday, October 15| 3:30 – 6:30pm | Free with Museum admission
Join MOR in celebrating National Fossil Day.  Children ages 5-12 can become a “Junior Paleontologist” and receive an official badge or certificate from the National Park Service by completing fossil activities.  Explore the ways that paleontologists work, learn about Earth’s history, ancient plants and animals, and discover how you can protect fossils through engaging hands-on activities.

AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS (GRADES K–5)

Digging Dinos
Monday, October 14 or Tuesday, October 15| 3:45 – 5:00pm| $10 for members, $15 for non-members
Get your hands dirty as you learn how a fossil finds its way from the ground to a museum display.  Play a role in preparing a real dinosaur bone. Wear clothes that can get dirty – this class is going to get messy!
Tours for Tots (3–5 years)
Tues & Thurs: 10-11am | Wed: 2-3pm | Free for members, $5 for non-members
This program continues our efforts to introduce little ones (ages 3 – 5) to the wonders of museum learning. Each program offers a chance to ask questions and explore with a hands-on activity. We offer the same program three times a month.  Pre-registration is not required unless you are a preschool group.*

Fantastic Fossils
October 15 – 17

2. What is the oldest fossil you have in your collection?

Trilobites from the Horseshoe Hills north of Manhattan, MT are approximately 355 million years old.

3. What is the smallest fossil you have in your collection? (I ask because so many of them are enormous!)

Algae and insects (mites) from Canyon Ferry, near Helena, MT (approximately 25 million years old)

4. Are there any anecdotes about fossils, the museum or reactions to your collection that you would like to share?

MOR’s Paleontology research is always making waves in the established understanding of dinosaurs.  Several years ago our research found that two different dinosaurs were actually just different ages of the same species.  John Scannella’s research determined that Torosaurus was the adult stage of Triceratops.  Not long after John’s research was published, he received a letter from the mother of a 5 year old.  This mother was angry with John because her 5 year old would not stop crying.  Torosaurus was the little boy’s favorite dinosaur.  He did not want Toro to be a Triceratops.  The mother asked John to change his mind about his Toro and Trike research.  He politely declined.

To see more info on events at the Museum of the Rockies, please visit their website: http://www.museumoftherockies.org/Calendar.aspx

For more information on John Scannella and his work: http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2010/09/torosaurus-is-triceratops-5-questions-for-paleontologist-john-scannella/

http://billingsgazette.com/news/state-and-regional/montana/msu-paleontologist-questions-traditional-views-of-triceratops-torosaurus/article_8ece1ff0-8f9a-11df-a582-001cc4c002e0.html

For a fascinating talk by Jack Horner of the theories behind Triceratops, please see his TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/jack_horner_shape_shifting_dinosaurs.html

For more information about the Wankel T-Rex and its transition, please see Meg Gannon’s piece from LiveScience: http://www.livescience.com/40218-government-shutdown-smithsonian-t-rex.html

Many, many thanks to Angie Weikert!!

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