In celebration of the fifth annual National Fossil Day on Wednesday, Oct. 15, people in the Moab area are invited to go back in time Thursday and Friday, Oct. 9 and 10 at the Dinosaur Festival at Museum of Moab and the Moab Information Center.
National Fossil Day was established in 2010 by the National Park Service (NPS) and American Geosciences Institute (AGI) to promote the scientific and educational values of fossils. This nationwide celebration takes place yearly during Earth Science Week.
“National Fossil Day is a celebration organized by the NPS to promote public awareness and stewardship of fossils, as well as to foster a greater appreciation of their scientific and educational values,” according to the park service.
To celebrate National Fossil Day, the Canyonlands Natural History Association (CNHA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Forest Service and Museum of Moab put together the Dinosaur Festival in Moab, which kicks off with BLM paleontologist ReBecca Hunt-Foster’s Moab Information Center (MIC) Lecture Series presentation, “Walking in Their Foot Steps: Fossil Tracks of Grand County.”
Hunt-Foster said the lecture will give visitors a fascinating look at fossil tracks from the Moab area – how they’re formed and preserved, what animals made them and where visitors can go to see tracks in the area.
On Friday, Oct. 10, visitors are encouraged to visit the MIC, on the corner of Main Street and Center Street; and the museum, 118 E. Center St., to see dinosaur bones and learn about the animals they belonged to.
The museum currently has on display a full-cast skeleton of Gastonia, one of the armored dinosaurs that lived in the area during the Early Cretaceous, as well as the real pelvis and tail of a Camarasaurus, a 40-foot-long plant eater that inhabited the Moab area during the Late Jurassic period. There are also track imprints and the cast hind leg of a Utahraptor, which is a large meat eater first found near Arches National Park in the Cedar Mountain Formation.
Museum of Moab Director John Foster said that during the festival, patrons will be able to see a few fossils from the museum’s collection that aren’t normally on display.
Hunt-Foster said the museum will also have a sandbox that kids can make smaller tracks in with wood cutouts. The Utah Friends of Paleontology, Moab Montessori and the Moab Valley Multicultural Center will also be there, helping with various other games that have an educational fossil-related component, she said.
In the afternoon, from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., the MIC courtyard will host games, face painting and information tables. The MIC suggests people bring cameras to have their pictures taken with a velociraptor.
Hunt-Foster said the BLM will have a booth at the MIC with information on local fossils, and the BLM’s “Discovery Trunk” will also be able to be viewed.
“The Discovery Trunk has been developed to share information with public groups, organizations, teachers and students about paleontological resources,” Hunt-Foster said. “The Discovery Trunk is a self-contained trunk with lessons and activities that instruct and reinforce basic concepts such as mathematics and science. The activities are targeted for Utah fourth-grade curriculum, but can be modified for other age levels.”
At 7 p.m., the MIC will host a free screening of the 2013 movie “Walking with Dinosaurs” about dinosaurs of the Late Cretaceous period, which was about 70 million years ago. The film features voice-overs from renowned actors John Leguizamo and Justin Long. Popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase during the film.
A short paleontology question-and-answer session will take place after the movie, hosted by Hunt-Foster and Foster, her husband.
Each of the Dinosaur Festival events are free, but donations are appreciated.
“We hope it will become a yearly event,” Hunt-Foster said.
“Dinomite” dinosaur festival celebrates National Fossil Day
What: National Fossil Day Dinosaur Festival
“Dinomite games, face painting and information tables”
When: Friday, Oct. 10, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Moab Information Center courtyard
On the corner of Main and Center streets
Cost: Free, but donations are appreciated
The Discovery Trunk is a self-contained trunk with lessons and activities that instruct and reinforce basic concepts such as mathematics and science. The activities are targeted for Utah fourth-grade curriculum, but can be modified for other age levels.