Tag Archives: paleontology

Happy National Fossil Day!

Some body fossils I made into jewelry.

Since I periodically mention fossils, I’m borrowing from the National Parks Service list of FAQs and adding/abridging a little, complete set here: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/fossilday/faq.htm
Fossil FAQs:
What is a fossil?
Fossils are traces or remains of things that were once alive. Most of us immediately picture giant dinosaurs, but there are also microfossils-fossils that can’t be seen without the aid of a microscope. Bacteria and pollen can fossilize too! Fossils that are physical remains of an organism are called body fossils. Fossils from actions, like footprints, are called trace fossils.

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Swift Footed Mystery

I was reviewing a children’s nonfiction graphic novel on dinosaurs-First Second Press’s Science Comics (love the concept!) Dinosaurs: Fossils and Feathers. It was more about the discovery and scientists than dinosaurs themselves. There were some aspects of the book that I liked, some I wasn’t so fond of.

podokesaurus

One thing that did catch my eye was the name Mignon Talbot. They mentioned that she was the first woman to name a dinosaur. I hadn’t heard of her before. So of course I had to hunt down a little more information. She was a professor of Geology and Geography at Mount Holyoke College for thirty-one years in the early 20th century.

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Filed under Books, Historical Facts and Trivia, Natural Science

Fossil Rhythm

I saw one of my coworkers had a Saint-Saens CD and she let me borrow it. I remember dancing (using the word very loosely) to the ancient record of it my parents had when I was a little girl. I didn’t realize or remember that one of the movements was called fossils.

 

Apparently Ogden Nash was hired to write a series of short poems to go along with the movements. Some of them are pretty bad/badly dated. But the introduction one is excellent and I very much like the images of his fossils poem!

 

Fossils

by Ogden Nash

 

At midnight in the museum hall

The fossils gathered for a ball

There were no drums or saxophones,

But just the clatter of their bones,

A rolling, rattling, carefree circus

Of mammoth polkas and mazurkas.

Pterodactyls and brontosauruses

Sang ghostly prehistoric choruses.

Amid the mastodontic wassail

I caught the eye of one small fossil.

“Cheer up, sad world,” he said, and winked-

“It’s kind of fun to be extinct.”

 

A charming reading and performance. And because I’m a sucker for the imagery: a series of fossil stamps from around the world set to the same piece. (Oh, and I want most of those stamps!)

Along the fossils theme–I visited the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits weekend before last. Had a few hours to kill before a family wedding so decided to go take a look despite everyone saying it was just a pit and not worth it.

 

Apparently they didn’t notice the museum you have to walk around to see said tar pits and not a one went in… It’s a nice little museum, I went in and goggled at the fossils they’ve found in the pits. They range from the huge Columbian Mammoth they have on display to the teeny mouse toes in their Fishbowl Lab to the vast quantity of dire wolf skulls on the wall…yes, dire wolves were real creatures and weren’t invented for fantasy novels….

 

Basically the tar pit is just that-natural asphalt. Animals would get stuck to the tar, and not all would be able to escape. Those that got stuck would attract predators and scavengers, and some of those would also get trapped. So it’s a whole ecosystem of life, predation and death from 11,000 to 50,000  years ago preserved in a smelly sticky mess! (How the La Brea Tar Pits Work for more details.)

 

I didn’t have enough time to take one of the tours, so I can’t vouch for those. But the atrium was lovely, and the displays were very nicely done. They have some assemblages of bird fossils and then a painting of what it might have looked like right behind it in the display case.

A short photo essay I found on the museum. (Their photos turned out better than mine!)

 

(Okay, the animatronic mammoth is seriously dated besides being the wrong species, but kids seemed to love it.)

 

So if you’re in the area and up for braving the insanity of traffic in LA, stop by and go inside. Take time to walk through the park too.

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