Wednesday, October 6, 2010

NATIONAL FOSSIL DAY AT NEW RIVER GORGE

New River Gorge National River

Release date: Immediate
Contact(s): David Caldwell
Phone number: (304) 466-0417 x18


National Park Service Celebrates the First National Fossil Day!

National parks are home to some pretty intimidating species. There’s the saber-tooth cat, for example. The flesh-eating Allosaurus, with 5½-inch claws. And the hulking entelo-dont, a seven-foot-tall, boar-like scavenger and predator with a nasty nature and powerful jaws. If it sounds like bears (which, yes, can also be found in national parks) will be the least of a visitor’s worries, let it be known that the creatures named above exist only within the national parks’ wealth of fossils. At least 230 parks preserve fossils from throughout geologic time; billion-year-old stromatolites, 200 million-year-old dinosaurs, ice age mammals from thousands of years ago, as well as plant records all appear in national park fossils. To promote awareness and stewardship of fossils—the record of evolving life on a dynamic planet—and to foster greater appreciation of their value to scientists and educators, the National Park Service and the American Geological Institute will hold the first National Fossil Day on October 13, 2010, during Earth Science Week.
“Fossils deserve Americans’ attention and appreciation,” said National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, “and I am proud that the National Park Service has been one of the driving forces behind the establishment of National Fossil Day. Fossils provide clues to how living things respond to change and hold important lessons for us, here on our warming Earth. Fossils excite children and adults and draw them into the world of science. Everyone should come out and learn more about America’s paleontological heritage on October 13.”
Throughout the country, children and adults can participate in National Fossil Day events. These include the National Fossil Day Celebration at New River Gorge National River's Canyon Rim Visitor Center in Lansing, West Virginia between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Here people of all ages will explore the richness of this area's fossil record, along with the connection of the landscape's ancient plants to our modern times. Some can even earn a National Park Service Junior Ranger Paleontologist Badge through this hands-on program. Stop by Canyon Rim Visitor Center any time to explore Earth's history and the ways that this heritage is preserved.
To learn more about this and other special celebrations on October 13, please visit the National Fossil Day website at http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/nationalfossilday/.
The site lists National Fossil Day events by state, provides guidelines for the National Fossil Day 2010 Art Contest, and serves as a one-stop shop for teachers, students, and paleontology-lovers seeking activities and resources to help them pursue their interest further. The website also lists the many partners helping the National Park Service to organize National Fossil Day. These federal and state agencies, vocational groups, professional organizations, fossil sites, and museums include the National Science Foundation, the American Geological Institute, the Association for Women Geoscientists, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.
For more information about New River Gorge National River and this local event, visit www.nps.gov/neri or call 304-574-2115.

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