October 13 is National Fossil Day, according to the U.S. National Park Service. It’s an under-celebrated event, IMO. Want to join the fun? Here’s how:
- Put together a dinosaur Halloween costume. I mean really, who doesn’t want to be a T. rex? Don’t forget to wave your hands and practice your roar.
- Go local with this interactive database and map to find out what ancient creatures lived near you. I bet it’s something totally cool.
- Take a for-real or virtual trip to a natural history museum or other attraction. Here’s a few.
- Gawk at sketches of fabulous discoveries like:
- Carnotaurus: a horned relative of T. rex that hung out in Patagonia.
- Australotitan cooperensis, the biggest dinosaur ever found in…well, I think you figured out where.
- Everybody’s favorite armored ankylosaurs including this “newcomer” from prehistoric Morocco.
- Do some bird watching. Yes, birds are avian theropods and thus the descendants of one line of dinosaurs.
- Find still more fun ways to celebrate the day with paleontologists, educators and students.
- Bonus idea: Read about the hunt for dinosaur DNA remnants in wonderfully preserved fossils from China dating to 125 million years ago.
What’s new on this day dedicated to things ancient? Quite a lot! We have not just a slew of new species, but also spectacular preservation such as:
- an extraordinary giant armored nodosaur from 110 million years ago
- prehistoric bird feathers, claws & suchlike preserved in amber
- this skin impression from a tyrannosaur:
Did you know that since 1990 or thereabouts, more new dinosaur species have been identified by their fossil remains than in all the previous years during which scientists had been studying dinosaurs?
Lastly, hats off to the National Park Service, purveyors of insights about fossils:
Here’s wishing you a happy National Fossil Day.
Calling all cat lovers: Who doesn’t need a wonderful drawing of a sabertooth in honor of National Fossil Day 2016? Today! The official name is Smilodon fatalis, and it’s not the only feline hunter of the Pleistocene. There were also thoroughly scary prehistoric versions of lions, cougars, jaguars, lynx, and cheetahs in bygone eras. Just look at those seven-inch teeth. This is 600 pounds of predator.
Here’s a Smilodon fossil skull from the famous La Brea Tar Pits.
For more about National Fossil Day and fossils discovered in the United States, have a look here.
Quick quiz for those of you who’ve always been into fossils.
1. What is a fossil?
A) The bones of a dead creature
B) Stone in which minerals have replaced the remains of a dead creature
C) A footprint, claw mark, burrow or other record of what a dead creature once did
(Hint: More than one answer may be correct.)
2. At how many national parks in the United States have fossils been discovered?
B) Fifty six
C) Over two hundred sixty
The National Park Service has an interesting website about fossils. Some terrific fossils have been discovered in our national parks. Apart from the fact that fossils are way cool, why does the government spend some (a very small portion) of our tax dollars on studying fossils? The website explains that, too. In brief, what’s gone before has much to tell us about life on Earth today.
So here’s wishing you a happy National Fossil Day.
- A, B, & C