Family Fossil Day features dinosaur exhibit and children’s activities

Sylvia Butanda

“Family Fossil Fun Day” at the Texas Memorial Museum offered a look at a dinosaur discovered by a UT professor and hands-on activities for children.

The Texas Natural Science Center hosted the 10th annual event Sunday.

Children’s activities included arts and crafts, games and stations where they learned about fossil identification and dinosaurs.

“Kids are so excited about dinosaurs in particular and fossils in general, and it’s a way to get them excited about our research and our collections,” said Christina Cid, education director at the Texas Memorial Museum.

The new museum exhibit featured Sarahsaurus aurifontanalis, a dinosaur discovered in 1997 by Timothy Rowe, director of the center’s vertebrate paleontology lab and geological sciences professor.

In a presentation, Rowe discussed how he discovered the 180-million-year-old dinosaur fossil in northern Arizona, outlining the pre-planning, the actual expedition and his interest in the Jurassic period.

“History tells us a lot of what’s going on today, and it will eventually forecast the future and that’s why we do paleontology,” Rowe said. “You want to be able to see what’s coming next.”

After three years of excavation and 11 years of separating the rock from the fossil, Rowe’s discovery is on display for a limited time until Feb. 12, 2012.

Other presentations included “Mammoths on the Move,” where the public learned about mammoths and their relatives from the last ice age, and “Meet a Preparator,” which demonstrated how fossils are made ready for exhibition and research.

Pamela Owen, senior paleontology educator for the center, led the “Mammoths on the Move” presentation and talked about the importance of the exhibits and presentations to the Texas public.

“[The event] helps people get a better feeling for the great fossil resources we have here in Texas and an understanding of the history and evolution of life,” Owen said. “It’s a great learning experience and it’s in a really fun way, so it’s not like you’re sitting in a classroom.”

Printed on October 10, 2011: Texas Memorial Museum debuts about fossil on family day