Central California’s Fossil Discovery Center Readies for National Fossil Day

Tuesday, October 01 2013 06:24   Museums
The Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County in Central California will be celebrating National Fossil Day on Oct. 19, 2013 with numerous hands-on activities and exhibits meant to engage kids and their parents.

National Fossil Day was created four years ago by The National Park Service and the American Geosciences Institute to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational value. The variety of activities planned at the Fossil Discovery Center, located in Chowchilla, California, is expected to do just that.

mammoth_g4"Besides our usual amazing exhibits of Columbian mammoths, giant sloths, and Saber-tooth cats, we have other fun and hands on activities for kids," said Blake Bufford, director of the museum.

"We have a new exhibit called ‘Microfossils.' Look through a magnifier to see the tiny bones and teeth of small prehistoric animals. There are also two temporary displays of fossilized plants including leaves and pinecones as well as insects. The ancient sea-life exhibit includes crabs, shrimp, fish, and trilobites that are millions of years old," he said.

A popular activity from last year is back as well: the atlatl throw. Bigger kids, and their parents, will have the chance to see how his prehistoric weapon worked and even see how they'd fair during the Pleistocene themselves.

"Learn how this prehistoric weapon brought down mammoths by throwing it yourself," Bufford said.

Paleontologists will be on hand operating a "wet screening" machine searching for the newest finds form the fossil bed adjacent to the museum. Kids can also enjoy the mock fossil dig for free, or search for "cross rocks" and keep whatever they find.

"Cross Rocks, or Chiastolite, occur locally and have an "x" or cross in them from the crystal forming process millions of years ago," Bufford said.

Representatives from Fresno Chaffee Zoo will be on hand from 11-1 with a skunk and barn owl for kids to get an up-close and personal chance to see these modern animals.

The activities run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and the cost of admission is $8 for adults, $4 for students and seniors over 55 are $6. The mock dig, normally $4, is free.

The Fossil Discovery Center is located at 19450 Ave. 21 1/2 in Chowchilla. Take exit 164 west from Highway 99.

The Fossil Discovery Center showcases the fossilized remains of numerous animals, including the California State Fossil, Smilodon Fatalis, more commonly known as the Saber Tooth Cat. Other animals include the massive Colombian Mammoth, the Short Faced Bear and the Dire Wolf. All of the fossils were found adjacent to where the museum sits, making the area the largest Pleistocene era fossil bed in the western United States. Learn more at
www.maderamammoths.org .


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