Big bites with the big guy: Grab breakfast with Dr. Bakker this Saturday

You’ve probably heard what today is by now: Finnish/Swedish Heritage Day!

Just kidding. It is a day for celebrating Finnish Swedes and Swedish Finns (not Swedish Fish) — but it’s also Election Day, if you hadn’t gathered.

If you’re as over-saturated by the election as we are at this point (we are about on par with this little girl), we suggest you look ahead a few sunrises from now to the most important meal of the day — breakfast.

Dino Days! This Saturday, Nov. 10, start your day with world-renowned curator and all-around hoot Dr. Bob Bakker. We’re serving up the bacon with Bakker from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and some of the staff that put the whole paleo party together.

Guests can meet Dr. Bakker, watch his special presentation geared especially to kids, participate in dinosaur activities and enjoy nibbles and noms with the Bakkster.

Tickets are $40 for the general public, $30 for members and may be purchased online here. Children under 1 year old are admitted free; all children must have adult supervision.

For more information, click here.

Find Fun Fossils at Dino Days 2009! This Saturday

dinoDaysJoin us Saturday, Nov. 7 for HMNS Dino Days, a family paleo festival that features fossil related activities and arts and crafts. Museum paleontologist Robert “Bob” Bakker will be on hand to answer any of your dinosaur questions.

This is a great chance for enthusiasts of all ages to come learn and discuss dinosaurs. We encourage you to bring in your own rocks, fossils, and other unique objects for identification. While you are here, take some time to help our volunteers sift through soil to recover bone fragments, teeth, and claws spanning 287 million years of natural history. Some of the Cretaceous age sediments you can sift through come from Texas and may contain fossilized shark teeth – and if so, finders keepers!

C. chubutensis 2
Creative Commons License photo credit: reed_flickr

So come join us this Saturday for an afternoon of dinosaur fun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The activities are included free with your museum admission.


Living Fossils Living Large

Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches

Frances and I were asked if we would set up a living fossils table for the HMNS’s annual Dino Days celebration that took place here last week. Not having had any history or paleontology classes I was a little clueless as to which of our living animals would fit into the category of living fossils, other than our alligator.

We did some research and what we read lead us in several directions for what it means to be a living fossil. Some animals, like the echidna and platypus, are nicknamed living fossils because they exhibit “primitive” characteristics – like oviparity, or egg-laying, in mammals. The overall consensus is that a living fossil is an organism that originally lived during the time of the dinosaurs (or even predates them), has remained unchanged morphologically and appears the same as a species otherwise only known from the fossil record, has no close living relatives and has survived major extinction events.

Chambered Nautilus

There are several examples that fit this description: the crocodilians, horseshoe crabs, turtles, opossums, salamanders, roaches, millipedes, dragonflies, and the nautilus. These are some of the critters we have in our collection and you can also add ferns, ginkgos, gar fish and the coelacanth to the list. There remains a healthy debate over which plants or animals can and should be included. I have included some pictures of our fossils, both living and non-living at the end of this entry.

All in all, we had a great time in sharing our casts, skins, skulls and live animals with everyone who came up to the table during Dino Days. Hope to see you there next November!

Dino Days Baby Gator

Tiger Salamander - too cute

Fossilized crocodilian scute and modern scutes

Volunteers manned the Touch Tank giving visitors a chance to touch these little fellows - Horseshoe Crabs.

Cast of fossil turtle shell